What We Talk About When We Talk About Love | Study Guide

Raymond Carver

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Course Hero. "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love Study Guide." Course Hero. 6 Feb. 2018. Web. 20 July 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/What-We-Talk-About-When-We-Talk-About-Love/>.

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Course Hero. (2018, February 6). What We Talk About When We Talk About Love Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved July 20, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/What-We-Talk-About-When-We-Talk-About-Love/

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Course Hero. "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love Study Guide." February 6, 2018. Accessed July 20, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/What-We-Talk-About-When-We-Talk-About-Love/.

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Course Hero, "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love Study Guide," February 6, 2018, accessed July 20, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/What-We-Talk-About-When-We-Talk-About-Love/.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love | One More Thing | Summary

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Summary

"One More Thing" is narrated in the third person by a narrator with insight into the thoughts of LD, the alcoholic husband of Maxine and father of teenaged Rae. Maxine comes home from work to find LD drunk and arguing belligerently with Rae. Rae insists the brain controls everything that a person experiences, and LD slams the table in disagreement, calling Rae crazy. Maxine tells LD he must leave at once, and LD throws a jar of pickles through the window, shattering it.

LD tells them it will be a relief for him to leave "this nuthouse." In the bedroom LD packs Maxine's old suitcase to the brim with things he will need and things he will not need. The narrator remarks, "He put everything he could into the suitcase, everything it could hold." Returning to the living room, he tells them he will never see them again. A moment later he tells them he will be in touch. As they wait for him to walk out the door, he claims to need "to say one more thing" but cannot "think what it could possibly be."

Analysis

Like Burt in "A Serious Talk," LD is being ejected against his will from his home and his family. Similar to Burt, LD expresses himself not directly through speech but symbolically through domestic items and personal possessions. Carver's statement LD puts "everything he could into the suitcase, everything it could hold," at first seems quite literal: LD is feverishly packing the thing as full as it can go. But when Carver follows with a list of all the mundane, easily replaceable and even useless items LD packs—like dental floss and his wife's toiletries—these words take on a second meaning. LD is trying to pack the life he is about to lose into the suitcase and take it with him. But a suitcase can hold only material baggage, not emotional baggage.

LD's pressure to say something very deep and important is, like Burt's in "A Serious Talk," paradoxically coupled with his inability to know what he wishes to communicate. When LD does speak, he doesn't say what he means. Instead, he says whatever he thinks will make his wife and daughter react in a way that reassures him they care about him. This leads to the absurd situation of LD making one pronouncement and then its opposite, in the space of a single breath. It is the patterns of his speech, rather than its content, that reveal LD's true feelings. But he cannot see this, just as he cannot see his alcoholism is at the root of his crisis.

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