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The Lie

This study guide will help you analyze the short story “The Lie” (1985) by Raymond Carver. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective

Raymond Carver (1938-1988) is an American author from Oregon, best known for his short story collections. His works are mainly part of the dirty realism movement and the minimalist movement which are both closely related to each other. A major part of his published works focuses on the everyday experiences of ordinary people and the exploration of interpersonal relationships.

Extract

Here, you can read an extract from our study guide: 

Symbols

When it comes to symbolism, Carver chose to use cultural references that depict certain aspects of the characters’ relationship or even the characters themselves.

As the narrator is trying to convince himself of the wife’s innocence, references come up in his mind.

I’m a broad-minded man, I told myself. I can work this through. I began to think about my wife, about our life together, about truth versus fiction, honestly opposed to falsehood, illusion and reality. I thought about the movie Blowup we’d recently seen. I remembered the biography of Leo Tolstoy that lay on the coffee table, the things he said about truth (...)

The movie Blowup represents the couple’s relationship. It starts with a photographer that captures two lovers kissing, and when the woman finds out, she demands the pictures to be given to her. The cause of her desperation is unknown, just like in Carver’s short story.

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The Lie

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