Symbolism in the Red Convertible

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October 1st, 2012
Symbolism in the Red Convertible
In writing, authors use symbolism to relay a deeper meaning to what they actually write. This technique captures important elements and gives the reader an idea of the theme of the story without the author directly telling them. Louise Erdrich uses symbolism to help emphasize and reveal the themes and message of her stories. “The Red Convertible,” by Erdrich, is a story about brotherly love as the highest value between two brothers, Lyman and Henry, and also about the difficulties veterans of war and their families face at post-war times. Symbolism plays a big part in this story, revealing the hardships Henry brings home from the battlefields of Vietnam, and to show Lyman's difficulties with handling separation and distance from his brother. The story is told from Lyman Lamartine’s point of view as he recounts the relationship he had with his older brother, Henry. He says how they both bought a red Oldsmobile convertible on impulse and traveled the country with it. He recalled it as a very happy and carefree time between the brothers. Then Henry went off to fight in the Vietnam War and when he returned he was a very changed man. He was depressed and lost interest in everything, including the car and his brother. When Lyman realizes the relationship between him and his brother will never be the same, he takes a hammer and beats the car up so it is in horrible condition. Henry sees the broken car and fixes it up. Once finished, the boys drive the car to a lake and Henry tries to give Lyman complete ownership of the car but Lyman constantly refuses. The brothers enjoy a tiny moment of laughter and hopefulness and after spending a couple good minutes together, Henry tells Lyman that he needs to cool off, and he jumps into the river. Apathetically, Henry says that his boots have filled with water and he goes under in the current. Lyman tries to save his brother but can’t. Then he turns the car on and sends it into...
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