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The Red Convertible - Book Review

Essay by   •  May 21, 2011  •  Book/Movie Report  •  975 Words (4 Pages)  •  2,738 Views

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The Red Convertible

In "The Red Convertible" written by Louis Erdrich. symbolisms are seen throughout the short story. Erdrich's use of these symbolic elements goes from something as simple as a photograph or a color television to the most important symbol, the red convertible. While all of the symbolic elements within this story have great purposes, the red convertible portray the relationship between the Lamartine brothers, Henry and Lyman. "Their time together is punctuated by a red convertible which seems to connect these two brothers in life and death" (Griffin). The importance of the car is pointed out in the title itself, "The Red Convertible". As the story develops, the condition of the car is a mirrored image of the bond of the co-owners, Lyman and Henry and comes to an end with one brother being the sole owner of the car. The story is told from Lyman's point of view in which he describes the emotional highs and lows of the relationship he shares with brother as well as the transformation of the red convertible.

As the story begin, we see the brothers are full of life as they go out one day sightseeing. Although the brothers had no intention on buying a car, Lyman and Henry laid their eyes on this red convertible in which they purchased without a second thought. Lyman describes the car as being alive. "There it was, parked, large as life. Really as it were alive" (252). Lyman's reference to the car at this point is parallel to the life of him and his brother, alive as they hit the road, traveling in their newly owned car. The brothers enjoyed themselves traveling all summer throughout North Dakota, South Dakota, Idaho, and Montana. As the summer and their road trip come to an end, the red convertible and their brotherly bond being are in good condition. Lyman and Henry return home to find out that Henry has been called upon to serve in the army.

While Henry is away, Lyman keeps his bond with his brother alive by taking good care of the car and writing his brother. "During Henry's absence, it represented Lyman's love for his brother since he cared for it as if it were a candle he lit for Henry every night" (Griffin) He updates Henry on the car through the letters he sends him. Meanwhile, the war was over and Henry had come home but Lyman quickly realizes the difference in Henry. The bond the two brothers once shared had changed due to the war's affect on Henry. Henry had come back mean, jumpy, quiet, and fidgety. Lyman also realized that his brother had no interest in him or the one thing that gave them both joy, the red convertible. As Lyman began to feel neglected by Henry, he destroyed the car. The physical condition of the car portraying the brothers' damaged relationship. Upon Henry noticing the damage that was done to the car, he began to fix it which can be



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