Short Story Analysis: The Red Convertible
“The Red Convertible” by Louise Erdrich is a short story about two Native American brothers, Lyman and Henry, and their growing bond as brothers. Symbolism is used rather heavily in this story. One of the main symbols of the story, as noted in the title, is the red convertible. The red convertible symbolizes the relationship status of the two brothers, and the struggles they face as Henry is drafted into the Vietnam War as well as when he returns home.
In the beginning of the story, Lyman and Henry go in together and purchase a red Oldsmobile convertible. In the beginning the condition of the convertible was fantastic. Although the story never clearly stated whether the car was brand new or not, the brothers drove the car on a summer road trip all over the country including Alaska and back. “We’d made most of the trip, that summer, without putting up the car hood at all. We got home just in time.” (Erdrich 327) Not only does this passage show the condition of the car being very well, but the relationship between Lyman and Henry being strong as well. During the whole road trip the brothers were very content with each other. They stopped and enjoyed their freedom on the road at every chance they got, and loved every minute of the trip together as brothers.
The next section of the story describes the time that Henry was away at war. Henry was drafted into the Vietnam War and was held as a prisoner of war for 3 years. During this time Lyman wrote several letters to Henry overseas, but Lyman only received 2 letters from him. In the meantime the car was described to be “…up on blocks in the yard or half taken apart…” (Erdrich 327). This indicates that their brotherly bond was on hold or at a standstill at the moment. The fact that the car was described as “half taken apart” (Erdrich 327) indicates that the relationship between the two may need some work.
When Henry returned...
Cited: Erdrich, Louise. “The Red Convertible.” Literature and the Writing Process. Ed. Vivian Garcia.
Boston: Pearson, 2011. 325-331. Print.
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