The Red Convertible
By Louise Erdrich
Red Convertible is a story based on two Native American brothers, Henry and Lyman and the damaging effect that the Vietnam War has on their relationship. The story begins with Lyman Lamartine telling us about his red convertible and how he procured the money to buy it. The car plays a significant role in this tale, giving symbolisms in these two brothers’ lives forever. The main characters, Lyman and Henry Lamartine, develop an apparently inseparable bond with a red convertible. Lyman who is younger than Henry describes his memory of the relationship between Henry, himself and a red old convertible they purchased together on an impulse. As the yarn unfolds, so does the relationship of the brothers and the evidence that Henry’s spirit is breaking with a tragic ending. “We owned it together until his boots filled with water on a windy night and he bought out my share. Now Henry owns the whole car, and his younger brother (that’s myself), Lyman walks everywhere he goes.” (Erdrich 241). Lyman, the younger of the two was very hard-working. He manages to ascend up the employment ladder at Joliet Café from “washing dishes” (Erdrich 394) until he eventually owned the establishment. "My one talent was I could always make money. I had a touch for it, unusual in the Chippewa. From the first I was different that way, and everyone recognized it. [...] Once I started, it seemed the more money I made the easier the money came. Everyone encouraged it" (Dutta).Henry was full of fun and cheer. “He’d always had a joke, then too, and now you could not get him to laugh” (Erdrich 242). After getting the money of the restaurant Henry and Lyman happen to find a ride to Winnipeg and had brought all their money with them when they saw a red car convertible. They agreed to buy it. When they first got the car they went joyriding all summer and meet a friend named Susie. The brothers agreed to take her home. Lyman admires his brother’s joking,...
Cited: Erdrich, Louise. "The red convertible." Exploring Literature. Ed. Frank Madden. 5th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2004. 241-47.
Dutta, Pratima. "Erdrich 's 'The Red Convertible. '." Explicator 61.2 (Winter 2003): 119-121. Rpt. in Short Story Criticism. Ed. Jelena O. Krstovic. Vol. 121. Detroit: Gale, 2009. Literature Resource Center. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.
Bussey, Jennifer. "Critical Essay on 'The Red Convertible '." Short Stories for Students. Ed. Jennifer Smith. Vol. 14. Detroit: Gale Group, 2002. Literature Resource Center. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.
Korb, Rena. "Critical Essay on 'The Red Convertible '." Short Stories for Students. Ed. Jennifer Smith. Vol. 14. Detroit: Gale Group, 2002. Literature Resource Center. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.
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