“Where I’m Calling From” is one of many of Raymond Carver’s stories about alcoholism. Like the problems J. P. and the narrator experience, many of the problems of Carver’s other working-class characters are exacerbated because of alcoholism. At the end of the story, the narrator says that he will call his wife, from whom he is separated. He suspects that his estranged wife will ask where he is calling from, and he knows he will have to tell her. Where he is calling from represents both Frank Martin’s institution and the narrator’s psychological state of mind.
It is significant that the story ends on New Year’s Day, a holiday in which resolutions are made. However, the narrator vows not to make any resolutions. Like the process of recovering from alcohol, the story is open-ended. The story shows a few days at the beginning of that process, which never ends for those recovering. As the symbolic significance of the title suggests, the story concerns the place from which the narrator calls, the psychology of the first few days of an alcoholic’s recovery process.