The Red Convertible, by Louise Erdich Essay

The Red Convertible, by Louise Erdich Essay

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It is said that when a man returns from war he is forever changed. In the short story, “The Red Convertible,” Louise Erdrich demonstrates these transformations through the use of symbolism. Erdrich employs the convertible to characterize the emotional afflictions that war creates for the soldier and his family around him by discussing the pre-deployment relationship between two brothers Henry and Lyman, Lyman's perception of Henry upon Henry's return, and Henry’s assumed view on life in the end of the story.
Throughout "The Red Convertible" Erdrich embraces the car as a symbol for the powerful relationship between two brothers, Henry and Lyman. The brothers combine their money to acquire a red convertible which they drove everywhere together; the car symbolized that relationship. Lyman preserved the vehicle while Henry was in the Army, deployed to Vietnam. Even when Henry gave Lyman the car, Lyman always regarded the car as Henry’s, which Erdrich depicts with the following passage, “I always thought of it as his car while he was gone, even though when he left he said, ‘Now it’s yours,’ and threw me the key” (Erdrich 357). The brothers held their relationship with high regard, Henry trusted Lyman with the car enough to give Lyman his share of the vehicle while he was away. Conversely, Lyman surmised that the car would always belong to Henry; just like their relationship, the car was important and would always belong to both of them. During Henry’s deployment, Lyman preserved the state of the car, he kept it in immaculate condition while waiting for Henry's return. By spending so much time caring for the car, Lyman in a way was caring for his brother. Little did Lyman know that his brother was going to come back a changed man and t...

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...vironment where they can witness the changes in a soldier and horrible mental state for those soldiers with PTSD when they return from war. War affects a person’s relationships with people close to them and their relationships with themselves. Erdrich embodies those changes through the text in “The Red Convertible.” “‘My boots are filling,’ he says. He says this in a normal voice, like he just noticed and he doesn’t know what to think of it. Then he’s gone” (Erdrich 363) shows the reader the last moments between the brothers before Henry is gone forever. Henry is assumed to take his own life, concluding the short story and further enforcing the devastating effects that the war had on Henry.

Works Cited

Erdich, Louise. “The Red Convertible.” 1984. Literature: A Pocket Anthology. Editor Gwynn, R.S., ed. 5th edition. New York: Penguin, 2012, 354-363. Print.

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