What metaphors are used in “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” by Raymond Carver?

Updated 21 March, 2023
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver is a collection of short stories that deal with the complexities of love and relationships. Throughout the book, Carver uses various metaphors to describe love, such as a "quicksand" or a "hollow cavity." These metaphors are used to highlight the depth of emotion and the struggles that come with love.
Detailed answer:

In "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love," Raymond Carver uses several metaphors to explore the complexities of love. One of the most striking is the metaphor of love as a "knife." This metaphor is introduced early on in the story when one of the characters, Terri, describes an abusive ex-husband who once threatened to kill her with a knife. She then says, "I'm scared of love when it gets like that. . . It's kind of like a knife, you know. It can be used for good or bad."

The metaphor of the "knife" is used throughout the story to highlight the danger and pain that can come with love. For example, another character, Mel, compares love to a knife, saying, "Love is the knife that cuts us. It's the knife that kills us." This metaphor underscores the idea that love can be both a source of joy and pain, pleasure and destruction.

Another metaphor used in the story is that of the "light." The characters often talk about love as something that illuminates their lives, but also as something that can be blinding and overwhelming. For example, Mel says, "I just want it to be perfect. I want it to be like it was the first six months, when we were so much in love. . . But that's impossible. . . It's like trying to recapture a glow in your cheeks from a cold day in January."

The metaphor of the "light" highlights the fleeting nature of love and the difficulty of holding onto it. It also suggests that love can be both illuminating and blinding, bringing clarity but also confusion.

Overall, Carver's use of metaphors in "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" adds depth and complexity to the characters' discussions of love, highlighting the different facets of this complex emotion.

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