An Analysis of Louise Erdich’s “Red Convertible”
The “Red Convertible” by Louise Erdich is a realistic short story which presents readers a picture of the effects of the Vietnam War on American Indian families, which reflected the existing situation of Native Americans at that time. Erdrich is of Chippewa Indian decent and is well known for her psychological depth in literature. In the story “Red Convertible” we (as the readers) follow along as Lyman narrates the blissful times of his youth to the tragic death of his brother. Two young brothers, Lyman and Henry set off on an adventure with their new red convertible. On this trip they form a deep bond as brothers. The red convertible is a symbol of their relationship, it reflects the state of the brother’s relationship as it goes up and down. Their bond loosens when Henry is drafted into the War and returns a different person. Louise uses her story to help today’s readers understand the effects of war on families in the 1970’s.
The character Lyman is the younger brother of Henry. From a young age Lyman has always been able to take care of himself. Lyman describes himself as “lucky” and having a talent for “always making money” (306). At fifteen he starts out as a simple dishwasher at the Joliet Café. He manages to work his way up to owning the restaurant by sixteen, but tragedy struck and Lyman lost it all. Lyman was a smart young man, he had the restaurant insured. His characteristics are those of a boy trying to grow up too fast. He seems as if he’s in a hurry, trying to catch up to someone. Could he be comparing himself to his older brother Henry? Or could he simply be training to take care of the family as a foreshadowing of Henry leaving.
Henry is Lyman’s older brother. Henry is seen as the comic relief almost. Every joke or origin of laughter in the story, all came from Henry. He is the radiant sun which Lyman grows from. Henry is described as being “built like a brick outhouse…He had a nose big and sharp as a hatchet.” (308). In the beginning of the story Henry gets laid off at work. He does not seem as distraught as Lyman over his loss. Henry simply does not care as much as Lyman does, this contributes to Henry’s care-free character. He is content to living day to day.
It is clear that the brothers love each other. Lyman often refers to Henry as “my brother” instead of simply Henry, this shows he puts effort into recognizing his brother with respect and love (307). When they first see the car, they do not argue over it like petty siblings normally do. Instead the brothers decide, together, that the car belongs to both of them. They drove in the car together and spend time together in that car. They even decide to go on a road trip together. Road trips have been known to bring people closer together. It is the adventure and experience people encounter that brings them closer as people and grow as human.
At this point the car is still new and fresh. Just like the brother’s...