Literary Analysis: "The Red Convertible"

1906 words - 8 pages

When reading literature we often attempt to use particular threads of thought or lenses of critique to gain entry into the implied historic or legendary nature of literature. To accurately process a tale in the light in which it is presented, we have to consider the text from multiple viewpoints. We must take into consideration intentional and affective fallacies and the socioeconomic circumstances of the presenter/author/narrator. We also have to consider how our personal experience creates bias by placing the elements of the story into the web of relationships that we use to interpret the external world. There also is the need to factor in other external pressures, from societal norms, cultural ideals, and psychological themes, and how they impress themselves upon us from the outside in.
All of these factors are at play in the relations between the objects within a text, creating a form of reality with its own historic and mythic properties. Characters have their own histories and structures, expressed or not, and their perception in the fictional world they reside exerts influence outward to the reader of literature, or the viewer of art. This influence can create a sense of immersive reality that renders the reading experience to be mythic truth, based in facts but not emotion or direct perception, a somewhat distanced portrayal of events. However it can also be an expression of perceptive truth, events are experienced much they would be in real life – confusing and disjointed. To look into these narrative elements of text, I will use examples from “The Red Convertible” by Lois Erdrich to demonstrate how Lyman’s narration style is representative of psychoanalytic concepts, showing how he deals with the situations presented in his life.

Oftentimes the lens we use when interpreting any art is based on our interpretation of the truth of the story – if a story is perceived as historically accurate, we look at the story as concrete, tangible, sensible. Other stories, perceived as unrealistic, often are posited so because they contain elements we do not see in the real world; metaphoric fantasy, symbolism, abstractness. These concepts are all based on our own filters of perception – we discern what is historically accurate and what is legend, or myth, based on our position in culture and the lenses which we view ourselves. In “The Red Convertible”, we can see these concepts at play – Lyman, narrating the story of the relationship with his brother Henry, tells a story that flows very effortlessly. Things that happen around him seem to brush off of him, as if they are no big deal.
An example of this is when the brothers are watching the television Lyman purchased, as it is an example of how Lyman uses defenses to repress the reality of what is occurring to his brother and subsequently their relationship. Rather than experience the shock of Henry biting through his tongue, he ascribes all of the reasoning to the objects surrounding them –...

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