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The Red Convertible
The story “The Red Convertible” by Erdrich is a story of the relationship between two brothers. The story gives an account of their bond, and how the relationship changes over a period of time due to some factors both internal and external that took place in the late 1960s to the early 1970s. The story is narrated from the point of view of a young man by the name of Lyman Lamartine a Chippewa Indian who is living in a reservation in northern Dakota in the year 1974. In the story the author uses the red convertible to bring out the condition of the relationship between the two brothers. As the story is told Henry is the one who owns the whole car whereas Layman has to walk wherever he goes.
As the story unfolds Henry and his brother are able to buy a red convertible, restore it back to working condition and travel around the continent together. So as to buy the car each of the brothers had to contribute his share, Layman tells how he had to work as a shoe shine boy in order to get the money. He recalls how they were the first people in the reservation to drive a convertible. This symbolizes the good relationship and normal life just before the effects of the war on the relationship. The two brothers travel around the continent having fun but eventually Henry has to leave to go and join the war. After Henry goes off to war Lyman takes the car apart, the act of dismantling the car is used symbolically to signify the separation of the two brothers (Erdrich, pg 304).
When Henry comes back from war, he has totally changed due to the effect of the war. He does not associate with his brother as they used to before he took off to war and is not interested in the convertible as before. Feeling neglected Lyman bangs the car, this again symbolizes the dented or “banged up “relationship between the two brothers. He refuses to let go of the effects of war, this is portrayed in the way he relentlessly wears “his field jacket and worn-in clothes he’d come back in” (Erdrich, pg 464). He keeps to himself and feels that nobody can really understand his feelings as a result he drifts further and further away from his brother. After some duration Henry discovers the damaged red convertible, here the car is symbolically used to bring out the fact that Henry realizes that his relationship with his brother is damaged. He confronts his brother “When I left, that car was running like a watch. Now I don’t even know I can get it to start again, let alone get it anywhere near its old condit.............
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