What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

by Raymond Carver
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What has disturbed Nick and his friends after their extended conversation about the nature of love in "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love"?

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After their extended conversation about the nature of love, Nick and the three others are disturbed because they realize that none of them really knows what love is.  Terri has argued that her ex-husband Ed really loved her even though he tried to kill her and afterwards killed himself.  Mel says that Ed could not have loved Terri because he was violent towards her, but Terri says that Ed's love fueled his rage.  Nick and Laura benignly say that they would have to know a person to judge him or her, so they get out of fully agreeing or disagreeing with Terri's point.  Mel goes on to say that he wishes his ex-wife was dead and then he thinks it strange that even though he cannot stand her now, there was a day in the past when he loved her more than anything.  Then Mel points to both Nick and Laura, both of whom have been married before, and says that they must have similar feelings.  But Nick and Laura are still in newlywed bliss, painting a perfect picture of happiness at the table.  Terri tells them to just wait and see how they feel in later years.  It seems that they start to wonder whether or not they really love each other, and if so, how that love is characterized.  So all at the table now have conflicting feelings and ideas about what constitutes true love and whether or not they have these feelings for their current partners.

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