To change is to become different, to progress, and to grow. In Louise Erdrich’s stories “Red Convertible” and “The Shawl” the idea of change is used as a catalyst to advance the stories in a new and interesting direction.
Both stories explain or imply some sort of change within their first sentences. The first sentence of “Red Convertible” reads, “I was the first one to drive a convertible on my reservation.” This is a change for the reservation, as it is the first time someone has driven a convertible on the reservation. Additionally, a convertible is a type of car that can transform to either have a roof or not. The first sentence of “The Shawl” reads, “Among the Anishinaabeg on the road where I live, it is told how a woman loved a man other than her husband and went off into the bush and bore his child.” This, too, has multiple examples of change. First, the narrator states that there is a story in which a woman loves a new man, which is a change for her. She also has a child with this new lover; having another child will change anybody’s life. The narrator also uses the words “it is told” showing that he did not experience the story first hand, which implies that the story could have been altered in some way after being told several times. So, from the first sentence of each short story, the audience knows that change is going to be a common topic throughout the remainder of the stories.
In the story of “Red Convertible” Henry owns a red convertible, which is his pride and joy. But after his departure and return from the Vietnam War, both he and the convertible have changed. Henry, as noticed by the narrator, Lyman, “was very different, and… the change was no good.” So Lyman, thinking “the car might brin...
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...arrator’s father. The legend narrates that upon being enclosed by the wolves, Aanakwad threw her daughter to them to save herself, which the boy witnesses; not knowing what is was from a distance. The narrator proposes a new idea at the end though. He questions, “don’t you think… [the daughter] jumped… Don’t you think she lifted her shawl and flew?” Even the last sentence proposes a change in or a new perception of the story. Perhaps the narrator’s opinion of the legend has changed, and he is the one who has changed. So, from the first sentence to last sentence, a change is the driving force of the story.
Change is what keeps life interesting, for better or for worse. Without change, life would be static and, for most, boring. Louise Erdrich, the author of the short stories “Red Convertible” and “The Shawl” uses change as prominent topic to progress her stories.
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