Complete summary of Louise Erdrich’s The Red Convertible. eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of The Red Convertible. “The Red Convertible,” one of Louise Erdrich’s most anthologized short stories, is the second chapter of her debut novel Love Medicine. The novel is a collection. Need help with The Red Convertible in Louise Erdrich’s The Red Convertible? Check out our revolutionary side-by-side summary and analysis.

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Until she lets her hair down, Lyman and Henry have no idea how extraordinary her hair is. Because of covnertible, he would not tell his brother outright that he loved him, wanted him to be independent, or feared that he Henry might not return from the war.

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He is seen as a tragic figure who represents conflict between white culture and Native American culture. Retrieved December 11, It also reveals the gap of knowledge between Henry and Lyman, exacerbated by their silence.

You could hardly expect him to change for the better, I know. Soon after, it was destroyed by a tornado.

The picture shows Henry’s face hidden with holes of shadows and Lyman’s face bright with sun. Their roughhousing and joking with each other also hearkens back to their more innocent days, but something is off. In describing metaphors, scholars often use the terms vehicle and tenor. Lyman throws the car into the river because he cannot bear to hang on to this symbol of youth, freedom, and innocence when his brother lost all of those things as well as his life.

Although the cafe was soon destroyed in a tornado, he enjoyed the short-lived success and was able to buy the car with his brother.


Recalling the blood image appearing earlier in the text, St. The United States involvement stemmed from the belief that if Vietnam came under communist control, communism would quickly spread throughout Southeast Asia.

The brothers take a carefree road trip that lasts an entire summer. Toward the end of the story, Lyman and Henry watch their beer cans as they throw them into the river. Juxtapose, or compare, this image, one of excitement and vitality, to the image of Henry, blood dripping down his chin as he chews on a piece of blood-soaked bread. The story focuses on the relationship dynamics between Lyman Lamartine and his brother Henry, a soldier who was deployed in the Vietnam War.

Her family is welcoming, and the brothers stay with them until the weather turns cold.

The Cyclic Nature of Louise Erdrich’s “The Red Convertible” | Interminable Rambling

Finally, for many cultures, the river symbolizes life, the mouth of the river sharing meanings with a gate or a door, a passage to another world. The red flashy car represents the youthful, vibrant, and exciting relationship between Lyman and Henry. After Erdrich graduated, she and Dorris stayed in touch and became literary companions. Once Henry is dead, Lyman knows that he has lost his innocence and his connection to his brother, and, therefore, he has no use for the car.

Juxtapose the image of the convertible and what it symbolizes in the story to the violent image of Henry chewing on blood-soaked bread. Henry likely realized that by going to Vietnam, he was sacrificing his innocence. If we consider the setting, and the characters, we need to think about this in regards to the history of the ways the United States has treated Native Americans.

This area expanded to include Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and the Dakotas. Detailed explanations, analysis, and citation info for every important quote on LitCharts.

The Cyclic Nature of Louise Erdrich’s “The Red Convertible”

Back in the car traveling together, it seems to Lyman that maybe things can go back to the way they used to be, before Henry went to war. For Lyman, images of a healthy, happy Henry are embodied in the spirit of the red convertible. Take good care of it” Erdrich He can no longer sit still, he hardly ever laughs, and he never makes jokes like he did before. He watched it until it went all the way in and the headlights went out. He never speaks about his capture, which would undoubtedly be a traumatic experience and would have contributed to his loss of innocence.


They argued about who should have it—Henry insisting that Lyman take it, and Lyman insisting that they share it—until they started physically fighting.

Despite possessing the physical qualities of a fighter, Henry is captured by the enemy. My students love how organized the handouts are and enjoy tracking the themes as a class. In her writing, Louise Erdrich both protects and celebrates this world.

Lyman was able to buy a red convertible Olds-mobile with his brother because he had always been good with money. The land assigned to reservations is generally unfit for rich crop cultivation, unemployment is high, education is lacking, disease and alcoholism are ongoing problems, and communication between generations is made more difficult by the Americanized schooling received by youngsters.

The only incident in which Lyman holds back from the reader is the one in which he lost his brother. By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use.