What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

by: Raymond Carver

Motifs

Main ideas Motifs

Drinking

Nick, Mel, Terri, and Laura consume copious amounts of alcohol during their discussion about the nature of love, and their increasing intoxication mirrors their growing confusion about love and inability to define it. The friends have gathered to talk and drink gin, and the pouring, stirring, and sipping of drinks punctuates their conversation. As the friends get drunk, their conversation grows blurry and incoherent and finally stops completely. Drinking also serves as a kind of ritual in the story as the friends pass the bottle of gin around the table and make toasts to love. At the end of the story, as the friends discuss going out to dinner, Mel says they must finish the gin first, as though only finishing the bottle can free them from the discussion.