Themes and Characters of Raymond Carver’s “Gazebo”

Plot and Point of View

Gazebo by Raymond Carver tells a story of a married couple whose happiness is ruined after the husband’s affair with their maid. Duane, the spouse who has committed infidelity narrates the story of the conversation that he is having with his wife, Holly. As a first-person narrator, he displays an account filled with regret and hopelessness. In the story, the reader learns about the cheerful past of the couple and its subsequent gradual disintegration. The topic of infidelity that the piece is based upon has been thoroughly raised in world literature, for example in Fitzgerald‘s “The Great Gatsby”.

Characters and Setting

The central characters of the story are Duane and Holly. Both characters suffer the consequences of their ruining relationship. Duane desires to save the marriage but is incapable of doing it as in response to his wife he “does not have anything to say” (Carver 35). In turn, Holly is devastated and states that Duane killed something inside her (Carver 34). The story is set in the motel that the couple runs. However, they are not able to continue keeping it in the correct state: “I stopped cleaning the pool. It filled up with algae so that the guests wouldn’t use it anymore” (Carver 36). The condition of the motel symbolizes the state of the couple’s relationship. It is gradually falling apart due to the devastating reality of their lives.


The narrator describes in detail the ritualistic consumption of alcohol that accompanies the couple’s dialogue. The attention applied to these illustrations adds to the importance of alcohol as a relevant symbol. As stated by the narrator, all of their “important decisions have been figured out while drinking” (Carver 35). Their consumption of alcohol symbolizes the devastating path of the couple’s relationship, while the state of drunkenness might be a metaphor for Duane’s irresponsibility to act maturely in a marriage.


The themes of infidelity and trust are central to the story. Being the victim of betrayal, Holly is hopeless and heartbroken. She sees a few ways out of the situation: “I’m going to Nevada. Either there or kill myself” (Carver 35). Both characters, however, suffer from the consequences of their shared tragedy. Duane’s account is filled with an understanding of the irreversible effects of his behavior: “I feel so awful from one thing and the other” (Carver 33). The characters’ painful contemplations are additionally fueled by their use of alcohol and the inability to continue accomplishing daily tasks.


Carver, Raymond. “Gazebo.” The Missouri Review, vol. 4, no. 1, 1980, pp. 33–38, Web.

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