The Effects of War Shown in Louise Erdrich's The Red Convertible
It is always said that war changes people. In the short story 'The Red Convertible', Louise Erdrich uses Henry to show how it affects people. In this case, the effects are psychological. You can clearly see a difference between his personalities from before he goes to war compared to his personalities after returns home from the war. Before the war, he is a care-free soul who just likes to have fun. After the war, he is very quiet and defensive, always watching his back as if waiting for someone to strike.
The first and most obvious change in behavior is shown by comparing Henry?s actions when they stopped at the place with the willows during the road trip and the description of Henry when he first returned home from the war. While resting at the willows, Lyman said, ?Henry was asleep with his arms thrown wide? (366). Henry was completely relaxed. When a dog or cat lies on his back with his belly exposed, he is making himself vulnerable, so therefore this is a sign of trust. Henry is showing a similar trust by lying in that position. This changes drastically when Henry comes home from the war. Lyman states, ?Henry was very different, and I?ll say this: the change was no good. You could hardly expect him to change for the better, I know. But he was quiet, so quiet, and never comfortable sitting still anywhere but always up and moving around? (367). The war has turned him into a very cautious man. ?[B]y the time Henry returned home, the war was over in the minds of most Americans, ?but for him it would keep on going?? (Sutton). Instead of just having fun and telling jokes, he is very quiet and keeps to himself. He acts as if he is waiting to be ambushed.
Another major change brought by the war is a change in Henry?s personality....