Love and Alcohol in Beginners College

In Raymond Carver’s short story “Beginners,” the use of alcohol is the most apparent and important image and helps show the characters’ true feelings about their love life. Through the characters’ consumption of alcohol, we are able to see their eventual confusion and simplification of the meaning of true love.

Carver begins the story with the characters having a full bottle of gin, symbolizing their full understanding of their views of the meaning of love. Herb explains that his view of love is spiritual love, and nothing less, which initially brings them onto the subject of love (Carver 1). While Terri explains her past abusive relationship and how it was Carl’s way of showing his love, the group becomes uncomfortable and continues drinking. Terri seems sure of herself when she explains that true love is expressed physically and asks the group, “What do you do with love like that?” (2).The conversation eventually drifts, giving Nick and Laura the opportunity to explain their “perfect” relationship. At this moment, Laura believes that she has found true love in Nick. After “putting on a show” for the group by showing their affection, Herb announces,...

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