Raymond Carvers “Whoever was using this Bed” and “Elephant”

“Whoever was using this Bed” by Raymond Carver starts out with the phone call ringing at three thirty in the morning with a drunk woman on the other line saying, “Is Bud there”?  Then she calls again saying “I have to talk to Bud.” The man then tells the woman that there is no one here named Bud and that she should never call again.  His wife is very angry that someone is calling so late.  Her husband wants to go back to sleep but all she wants is a cigarette.  

As the phone was ringing, his wife Iris was having a dream.  It is a thing that happens almost every night.  Iris then goes on and telling her husband about her dream.  He gets kind of mad that he is never in her dreams.  He says to her, “ I don’t think I like it, knowing you’re supposed to be here beside me all night but instead you are dreaming about strange dogs, parties, and ex-husbands.”  It makes you wonder why he gets so mad that he isn’t in her dreams? They are just dreams and she can’t control it.  However, sometime dreams are actually real.  So does she really feel the way she is in her dreams but is too scared to admit it?

They decide that they won’t be sleeping the rest of the night and continue to talk.  Their conversation turns from talking about dreams to talk about dying and different way they could die.  They also talked about their family members and how each one of them have died and that they could possibly die from that too. 

Elephant by Carver was the second story I read.  It begins with a man talking about his brother and that he is struggling for money.  His brother asks him for money because he didn’t know what else to do.  Him and his family were going to be on the streets if they didn’t get money.  Feeling for his brother, he left him the money.  He told his brother that instead of playing him back he need to pay their mother so he didn’t have to send her a check every month.  The brother didn’t pay either of the back.   

            He thought that because his brother didn’t pay anyone back that he would never ask to borrow any more ever again.  He was wrong.  And the next time his brother asked for money it was a thousand dollars.  He was in complete shock.  Too his surprise he lent the money to his brother.  He just couldn’t say no.  On the day they agreed to cash the check his brother wrote him and asked him not to.  Over time everyone kept asking him for money and he didn’t know what to do because he had no money to give them.

            These two stories have some similarities but they also have some differences.  They both are about life and things that happen on a daily basis.  And struggles that we face.  The differences are that they are dealing with two separate things.  The first story is about a husband and wife and her dreams and how they think they are going to die.  The second story was about a man who was two generous with his money and couldn’t say no to his family members even when he had no money to give.  Why was he so nice to his family when he didn’t have money to give?


Carver, Raymond. Where I’m Calling from new and selected stories. New York: Vintage Books 1989.


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