The Red Convertible by Louise Erdrich

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The short story revolves mostly around two twins, Henry and Lyman, who are inseparable. The brothers are portrayed as young, wild, and enthusiastic, particularly when they jointly purchase a red convertible. They are traveling and enjoying themselves until Henry, the elder brother joins the Army and remains for three years without returning home while fighting in Vietnam (Erdrich). When Henry returns home from the war, he is unusual in that he is fidgety, quiet, and cautious, rather than jovial. He hardly laughs or engages in friendly interaction with his family members, causing them to be concerned about his welfare. Additionally, he shows little interest in the red convertible, which was his favorite ‘toy’ before he left. His brother has an idea on how to bring his vigor and happiness back. It involves ruining the red convertible and it actually works because Henry spends time working on it, which turns out to be quite therapeutic (Erdrich). The brothers at last enjoy a ride together and reminiscence the good times in their childhood. Sadly, these are the last moments that they get to spend together because Henry drowns in a river and Lyman pushes the Convertible into the river too.

The narrator of the story is worth listening to because the theme of the story is relevant in the modern world where soldiers are sent to fight in different countries away from their families. The story gives the audience insight on what to expect if one of their family members joins the army and goes for a mission away from home. Furthermore, those aspiring to join the army will have a clue on what transpires after that they go for a mission and the effect of war on their feelings, their perception of the world, and their families after coming back home. Moreover, the narrator brings out the importance of a family and the love that exists among siblings. It is through this love that the two brothers get to rekindle their good times to an extent that Henry is trying to open up to Lyman before dying. The narrator also portrays Henry as a young hardworking man who works hard to become a hotel owner at a tender age, and owns a convertible together with his brother, which encourages the youth to work hard and gain financial independence.

The narrator addresses some issues that my peers might not appreciate but can learn from. For instance, the issue of a young man achieving so much in his life looks exaggerated. As much as it encourages the youth to be responsible and work for financial independence, it seems unrealistic, and it may push youths towards setting unrealistic goals in life as well as denying themselves leisure time to accumulate wealth, which is unsuitable for their health. Further, the narrator instills some fear upon the youth who aspire to join the army by portraying the negative effects of war on the soldiers and their families after a mission. My peers who are aspiring to join the army might not find this thoughtful because the information presented does not give any positive quality that Henry acquired from the army but rather shows that the war drained him, rendering him cold, mean, withdrawn, and melancholic.

However, my peers should read the story because it is very educative on the aspect of being a responsible youth. Lyman was able to get jobs at a tender age and get promotions at a fast rate; hence, getting a managerial position and eventually owning the hotel and a Red Convertible (Erdrich). Further, Lyman acquired a television for their mother showing that he was a responsible man who took care of his family. He also took perfect care of the car that they had bought with his brother. His concern for his brother’s well being indicates responsibility, whereby Lyman ensured that he rekindled his brother’s jovial mood by ruining the convertible that was in good condition.

Works Cited

Erdrich, Louise. The Red convertible: selected and new stories, 1978-2008. New York: Harper Perennial, 2010. Print.

July 29, 2022

Literature Sociology

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