In “The Red Convertible,” by Louise Erdrich, she shows how the war changes people when they get out. People that go to war often feel they will change due to war, and will not know how to react to being back home. This is proven by the plot of the story because the brothers’ relationship changed due to the war. Henry and Lyman went from being traveling buddies and good friends to hardly any contact. Erdrich uses Henry as a symbol showing the hard times in Vietnam that people go through when they return. The most important symbol is the red convertible itself, which represents the relationship that the two brothers have, but also Henry, which shows the hard times of war.
The red convertible represent their open connection to one another showing the brothers better side of their relationship in the story. In the beginning, before the war Lyman and Henry had a normal relationship. They did everything that two brothers would normally do. Erdrich uses the Henry giving ...view middle of the document...
By Lyman messing up the car shows Henry how Lyman feels, and he talk to him. Henry said, “When I left, that car was running like a watch. Now I don’t even know if I can get it to start again, let alone get it anywhere near its old condition” (Erdrich 456). With that Erdrich uses the car to portray the relationship Henry and Lyman has after Henry comes from the war. Henry alludes to what condition the car was in before he left for Vietnam and expresses his concern about bringing the car back to its old condition. Erdrich uses symbolism here to express the concerns soldiers have regarding the future of their relationships after war. They fear things will never be the same or even worse, that the relationship itself will become one of the many casualties of war
After Henry comes from the war he tries to fix the beat up red convertible, which Erdrich use as a symbol for him fixing his relationship with his brother. After Henry fixes the car, he asks Lyman to go for a ride with him, which causes Lyman to believe their relationship has been fixed along with the car. He discovers otherwise when Henry jumps in the river and drowns. The end of their relationship is marked by Lyman pushing the red convertible off the bridge: “I walk back to the car, turn on the high beams, and drive it up the bank. I put it in first gear, and then I take my foot off the clutch. I get out, close the door, and watch it plow softly into the water” (Erdrich 459). Erdrich uses symbolism as a way to show how people that go to war are changed and there former relationships will not be the same.
In summary, the Vietnam War had a horrendous effect on the soldiers who participated, but also on the people who knew them before”. Erdrich shows the horrible things war do to a person, and also how it effects a person’s relationship. She shows a more clear view of war; instead of showing soldiers as heroic and undamaged, she shows them for what they really are, human beings with feelings. Erdrich achieves her purpose by bringing her audience to the understanding that war affects more than just the soldier. Like death war effects everyone and everything a soldier is involved in.
Erdrich, Louise. “The Red Convertible.” MSU READER. New Jersey: Upper Saddle River,
2011. 452-59. Print.