What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

by

Raymond Carver

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Ed (Terri’s ex-boyfriend) Character Analysis

Terri tells Nick and Laura anecdotes about her ex-boyfriend, Ed, whom she lived with before she dated Mel. Ed used to physically abuse Terri while telling her that he loved her, which led to Terri’s somewhat confusing outlook about what constitutes love. She believes that Ed truly loved her despite his brutal treatment of her, whereas Mel doesn’t think that love and violence can coexist. After Terri broke up with Ed, he relentlessly terrorized and threatened Terri and Mel, to the point that Mel kept a gun in his car out of fear. Emotionally unstable and distraught over the situation, Ed attempted suicide twice: first by drinking rat poison, second by shooting himself in the head. A few days after the second attempt, Ed succumbed to the gunshot wound and died in the hospital, with Terri by his side (much to Mel’s chagrin). As Terri shares this story, she says that she still feels sorry for Ed.

Ed (Terri’s ex-boyfriend) Quotes in What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

The What We Talk About When We Talk About Love quotes below are all either spoken by Ed (Terri’s ex-boyfriend) or refer to Ed (Terri’s ex-boyfriend). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Nature of Love Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Library of America edition of What We Talk About When We Talk About Love published in 2009.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love Quotes

“He was dangerous,” Mel said. “If you call that love, you can have it.”

“It was love,” Terri said. “Sure, it’s abnormal in most people’s eyes. But he was willing to die for it. He did die for it.”

“I sure as hell wouldn’t call it love,” Mel said. “I mean, no one knows what he did it for. I’ve seen a lot of suicides, and I couldn’t say anyone ever knew what they did it for.”

Mel put his hands behind his neck and tilted his chair back. “I’m not interested in that kind of love,” he said. “If that’s love, you can have it.”

Related Characters: Mel McGinnis (speaker), Terri, Ed (Terri’s ex-boyfriend), Nick, Laura
Page Number: 313
Explanation and Analysis:

“Well, Nick and I know what love is,” Laura said. “For us, I mean,” Laura said. She bumped my knee with her knee. “You’re supposed to say something now,” Laura said, and turned her smile on me.

For an answer, I took Laura’s hand and raised it to my lips. I made a big production out of kissing her hand. Everyone was amused.

“We’re lucky,” I said.

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Nick (speaker), Mel McGinnis, Terri, Ed (Terri’s ex-boyfriend)
Page Number: 314
Explanation and Analysis:

“But sometimes I have a hard time accounting for the fact that I must have loved my first wife too. But I did, I know I did. So I suppose I am like Terri in that regard. Terri and Ed.” He thought about it and then he went on. “There was a time when I thought I loved my first wife more than life itself. But now I hate her guts. I do. How do you explain that? What happened to that love? What happened to it, is what I’d like to know. I wish someone could tell me. Then there’s Ed. Okay, we’re back to Ed. He loves Terri so much he tries to kill her and he winds up killing himself.”

Page Number: 315
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire What We Talk About When We Talk About Love LitChart as a printable PDF.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love PDF

Ed (Terri’s ex-boyfriend) Character Timeline in What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

The timeline below shows where the character Ed (Terri’s ex-boyfriend) appears in What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
The Nature of Love Theme Icon
Love and Violence Theme Icon
Terri shares that her ex-boyfriend, whom she lived with before Mel, tried to kill her because he loved her so... (full context)
The Nature of Love Theme Icon
Love and Violence Theme Icon
The Failure of Language Theme Icon
Mel tells Nick and Laura that Terri’s ex-boyfriend threatened to kill him. Finishing his drink, Mel reaches for the bottle of gin and... (full context)
The Nature of Love Theme Icon
Love and Violence Theme Icon
The Failure of Language Theme Icon
...Nick and Laura what they think, and Nick replies that he wouldn’t know—he never met Ed. He says that he believes what Mel is trying to say is that “love is... (full context)
The Nature of Love Theme Icon
Love and Violence Theme Icon
Terri recalls that, when she broke up with Ed, he’d tried to kill himself by drinking rat poison. He survived but had permanent gum... (full context)
Love and Violence Theme Icon
Mel tells Nick and Laura that Ed had used a .22 caliber pistol to shoot himself—the same one he’d used to continuously... (full context)
The Nature of Love Theme Icon
Love and Violence Theme Icon
Mel continues his story: Ed shot himself in mouth in the hotel room where he was staying. The manager came... (full context)
The Nature of Love Theme Icon
Love and Violence Theme Icon
The Failure of Language Theme Icon
...asks who won the fight, and Terri answers that she was in the room with Ed when he died—no one else was there for him. Mel repeats that Ed was dangerous,... (full context)
The Nature of Love Theme Icon
The Failure of Language Theme Icon
...how to reconcile the love he had for his ex-wife, or that of Terri and Ed—he wonders where that love has gone. Mel points out how Nick and Laura glow with... (full context)