An Analysis of The Red Convertible

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Kelly Taucher
ENG 102

The Color Red
In the short story “The Red Convertible,” Louise Erdrich depicts the relationship of two brothers, Lyman and Henry, who experience first-hand the reality of a soldier coming home from war. Erdrich uses the condition of the convertible the brother’s purchase together to reflect the status of their relationship. The red Olds represents their initial relationship, the togetherness they create from having it and eventually the disconnection of their bond after Henry returns from war. By using symbolism, Erdrich is able to reveal the effects war can have on a strong relationship. In the beginning of the story, we see that the brothers form a new relationship by buying the red Olds together. Despite their physical differences and contrasting personalities, they create a sense of brotherhood through the purchase, restoration and travels made in the car. These actions all represent the brothers’ normal relationship before Henry leaves. Erdrich describes the car as being in good condition, similar to the brothers’ wonderful summer together, traveling carefree across the country. Lyman shows just how carefree their time together is when he says, “we didn’t let them [details] bother us and just lived our everyday lives here to there” (394). They spent the summer in good company, not having to worry about anything but their freedom. Throughout the trip, their relationship is effortless and the red Olds runs efficiently, needing little maintenance at all. Lyman says, “We made the trip, that summer, without putting up the car hood at all. We got back just in time” (395). In this passage, he is referring to the end of the summer when they return home and Henry receives his letter from the Marines calling him to duty. Henry expresses his love and trust for his brother just before leaving by throwing him the keys saying, “Now it’s yours” (396). Unfortunately, this is the turning point in the brothers’ relationship because just as Henry has...
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