A Serious Talk

This study guide will help you analyze the text “A Serious Talk” by Raymond Carver.  You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective

Presentation of the text

Title: “A Serious Talk”
Author: Raymond Carver
Published in: “What We Talk about When We Talk about Love” (collection)
Date of Publication: 1983
Genre: Short Story

Raymond Carver was an American minimalist author of poems and short stories. Carver's style of writing was hugely inspired by another American author, Ernest Hemingway. In his works, Carver constantly explored themes related to marriage, love and violence.


Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide: 


The social setting of the short story “A Serious Talk” by Raymond Carver deals with the relationship dynamics of a separated couple. Burt and Vera are most likely separated or divorced, and they have different ways of understanding the meaning of family. Vera accepts Burt’s presence in her life, most likely for the sake of the children or out of obligation, but she also wishes to rebuild her life with another man. Although she lets Burt know of the man’s presence in her life, she avoids telling Burt too much about him. 

Burt, on the other hand, is unaware of how his destructive behavior affects his family and is unable to understand the seriousness of the situation between him and Vera. When he leaves Vera’s house, he thinks about having “a serious talk” with her soon, but he is more concerned about how to bring up the topic of the ashtray. This could suggest that Burt is in denial and refuses to believe his relationship with Vera is over.

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A Serious Talk

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