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Duane and Holly’s relationship is doomed from the moment it began. Carver uses Duane’s affair to display the deterioration of their marriage, but reveals a past that indicates their inevitable unhappiness.

Drinking’s funny. When I look back on it, all of our important decisions have been figured out when we were drinking. Even when we talked about having to cut back on our drinking, we’d be sitting at the kitchen table or out at the picnic table with a six-pack or whiskey . When we made up our minds to move down here and take this job as managers, we sat up a couple of nights drinking while we weighed the pros and the cons.”

Duane begs Holly to forgive his indiscretion, but he reveals that every decision in which they made together was the result of alcohol.  He’s doubting their marriage just as Holly is, and can’t help but to think of the maid while begging for forgiveness. Their relationship is dysfunctional, unfixable even, and they are aware of this, but stay in the shitty hotel in which they refuse to work at anymore.

And the woman said that years before, I mean a real long time ago, men used to come around and play music out there on a Sunday, and the people would sit and listen. I thought we’d be like that too when we got old enough. Dignified. And in a place. And people would come to our door.”

Holly has this idea of what their life should be in holding onto this memory, but she knows it is over.  She has become obsessed with Duane’s affair, all the while neglecting the hotel completely, but their relationship is still deteriorating. They are holding on to something that isn’t there and hasn’t been there in a while, all the time blaming Duane’s infidelity, but it isn’t the root of the problem.  Carver illustrates their marriage, their decay in an isolated world in which reveals a complete understanding of how they both feel, while making it subtle.  Carver doesn’t have to say how distant they have become, it is clear through the language he uses, it’s desperate.

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