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ENG226 - English 226 TR 11:00 March 22nd 2007...

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English 226 – TR 11:00 March 22 nd , 2007 Interpretation and Analysis of Louise Erdrich’s “The Red Convertible” Louise Erdrich’s “The Red Convertible” is a short story narrated in first person from Lyman Lamartine’s point of view. The story is about two brothers, Lyman and Henry, and the relationship that they have with each other. Throughout the story, Lyman shares his feelings about Henry and the bond that they share, and the way that it differs from pre-war Henry to post- war Henry. It is obvious that Henry becomes a completely different person, and that the red convertible serves as a symbol to depict this. In the very beginning of the story, Lyman makes a statement that strikes the reader as odd and can only be understood when the plot line has been finished: “I owned that car along with my brother Henry Junior. We owned it together until his boots filled with water on a windy night and he bought out my share. Now, Henry owns the whole car, and Lyman walks everywhere he goes” (1162). This statement shows us that there is something that we do not yet know, which will be explained later in the story. From the beginning, we are made aware of the fact that Lyman is the luckier of the two brothers – the one who “could always make money; I had a touch for it” (1162). His luck also came in handy later in the story when he was consistently able to avoid the draft. He was also a strong person who was able to persevere in the face of obstacles, such as his restaurant being destroyed by a tornado.
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The story truly starts to take shape with the purchase of the red convertible. The two brothers put all the money that they have together to buy the car, and from this point on, the car becomes a symbol of the bond between them. They share a fun-filled, carefree summer together and the car takes them everywhere they want to go. It symbolizes freedom, happiness, and the memories that they made together on that trip. Lyman states that he does not remember much from that summer, but that he does remember “this one place with the willows” (1163). The beautiful, peaceful description of this comfortable place embodies the tone of this whole trip – the boys were happy and free. Henry, “asleep with his arms thrown wide”, is at peace in this part of the story. At the end of the summer, the fall is at their heels and the boys must return home. This seems to foreshadow the “death” of their good times and the end of their freedom. Henry must go off to war, and things will never be the same. They had “made the most of their trip, without putting up the car hood at all”; this can be taken, to an extent, as a representation of Henry (1164). The boys never did one thing that summer to take care of the car, just as Henry was totally unprepared for what was to come. Erdrich nonchalantly throws in the statement that they got home “just in time, it turned out, for the army to remember Henry had signed up to join it” (1164). The foreshadowing continues with premonitions that the relationship between the boys will change when Henry gives the car keys to Lyman before leaving for the war.
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