In "The Red Convertible," by Louise Erdrich, the red convertible symbolizes the brothers relationship at different stages through the story. In the story Erdrich uses specific actions of the brothers to show change in their relationship, which corresponds with the red convertible. Erdrich uses scenes involving the red convertible to show different stages of the brothers relationships. The story begins with a road trip representing the boys closeness, then precedes onto Lyman beating up the red convertible symbolizing the brothers separation. Erdrich then continues the story with Henry giving the red convertible to Lyman representing their reunion. The story finishes when Lyman runs the red convertible into the lake, which parallels with the end of the brothers relationship. All of the scenes that are significant in this story involve the red convertible, which is the center of the brothers relationship.
The story begins with a road trip that the brothers take in the red convertible to Canada. In this scene the red convertible is symbolizing Henry and Lyman's close relationship to one another. Lyman and his older brother Henry decides at random, with no plans, at spur of the moment to just start driving. The red convertible represents their free spirited connection to one another showing the brothers happier side of their relationship in the story. Throughout their trip Lyman describes it as being "comfortable" and "quiet," just like their relationship(365). Henry and Lyman enjoy being together, and we get to see their relationship through this simple scene that Lyman describes. In this first major scene of the story Louise Erdrich manages to convey many personality traits among the brothers that all revolve around the red convertible.
The next scene that portrays the brothers' relationship through the symbolism of the red convertible is when Lyman fixes the car up for when Henry comes home from war. When Henry had gone away to war Lyman decided to put the car in "perfect shape" before he came home(367). This act of Lyman shows his love and respect for his brother. The car was in good shape before Henry went off and joined the Marines but Lyman wanted it in perfect condition for when his brother arrived at home. The red convertible to Lyman is everything that he wants his relationship with his brother to be once he returns. Lyman wants everything to go back to the way things were like the summer before Henry left. When Henry finally does arrive at home, however, Lyman describes him as being "very different" and "jumpy and mean"(367). Henry no longer seems to have any interest in the car or in Lyman any longer. In desperation, to retrieve his old brother, Lyman goes out one night when Henry had gone out and "did a number" on the red convertible(367). This desperate act of Lyman is in order to try to bring the brothers together. Lyman feels that since they were connected through the red convertible in the past that it would bring them together now. When Henry sees the car messed up he becomes upset and instead of bringing the brothers together Henry becomes fanatically obsessed with fixing the red convertible. This event in the story shows how the war has changed their relationship from close knit to distant. However, once Henry gets the car fixed up he asks Lyman to go for a drive once again showing how the car and their relationship are hand in hand. The red convertible continues to bring the brothers together even in the worst of times.
The next scene that involves the red convertible portraying the brothers relationship is when Henry gives the convertible to Lyman. Henry and Lyman go for their last ride in the red convertible together and pull over for a nap. After resting, the boys start talking and that's when Henry tries to give Lyman the red convertible. Lyman refuses to take the red convertible, which causes a fight between the two brothers....