Brothers' Relationship: The Red Convertible By Louise Erdrich

1359 words - 5 pages

The relationship of brothers usually lasts forever, but in Louise Erdrich’s short story “The Red Convertible”, the relationship of the main characters Lyman and Henry takes a turn. Erdrich takes her audience through the experiences these brothers face and how they must come to terms that their relationship has changed. Knowing that it will most likely never be the same both Lyman and Henry try to fix their relationship until eventually one falls because of the experiences he faced in life. While Lyman may think the red convertible will save his and Henry’s relationship, Erdrich makes it clear that it will not through the characterization of the brothers, the plot of the story, and the symbolism she uses to tell her story.
At the beginning of the story, the reader meets Lyman who is the narrator of the story and automatically one knows that the story is written in the first person narration. While Lyman sets up the story line he discusses how he got the money to buy his share of the convertible. He explains, “My one talent was I could always make money. I had a touch for it, unusual in a Chippewa” (Erdrich 126). From this example the reader understands that Lyman is a Native American because he uses the term Chippewa and one can conclude that it is of a reservation. Also, one can see that money fortunately came easy for Lyman, meaning that he was able to hold a steady job since age fifteen.
The reader also meets Henry, Lyman’s brother who is older than he is. Unlike Lyman, the reader is given a physical description of Henry. Erdrich writes, “He was built like a brick out house anyway. He had a nose big and sharp as a hatchet” (128). One may conclude that a physical description was given for Henry and not Lyman because he was drafted into the army and taken to fight in the Vietnam War. Further, Henry is characterized as a dynamic character in the story because of the change that occurs. Lyman explains, “When he came home, though, Henry was very different, and I’ll say this: the change was no good” (Erdrich 129). The change Henry goes through is not for the better, the war made him vulnerable and he kept playing his experiences through his head over and over again. One can see that this change was no good for him or Lyman because Lyman was affected by it too.
Looking at the plot of the story, one can see that the story deals with a psychological conflict. Before Henry had left for the Vietnam War he and Lyman had a close relationship and since coming back he changed significantly because of what he saw and experienced. Lyman explains, “Once I was in the room watching TV with Henry and I heard his teeth click at something. I looked over and he’d bitten through his lip. Blood was going down his chin” (Erdrich 129). This example shows how Henry is dealing with the post war stress and how he cannot get what he went through out of his head. As he sits and watches the replaying war videos, he is unable to get past that he can live again and go...

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