The Red Convertible Symbolism

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Cori Hosford Mrs. Warren ENG 1113 February 13, 2012 The Red Convertible by Louise Erdich is a realistic short story written about two Native American brothers and their changing relationship. The story itself is a memory of the younger brother, Lyman Lamartine. Erdich uses symbolism, irony, and foreshadowing to show the reader the changes that Henry Junior, the older brother, goes through when he comes home from being a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Lyman and Henry were both fun-loving children at heart before Henry was called to fight in the war. The two brothers did everything together. Lyman always had a way with money, and he ran his own restaurant as a teenager. However, when he was just sixteen years old, a tornado blew away his…show more content…
When the two brothers bought the convertible, it was in the best shape. The car was flashy, fast, and everyone noticed it. It was a beautiful car, in other words. This symbolized Henry before he became a Marine. Growing up, Henry was a calm boy that had a great personality. He got along with everyone. The red convertible bonded Henry and Lyman together. After Henry came back from Vietnam, he was a completely different person. He was no longer calm; instead he was mean and jumpy. He constantly sat in front of the television, and he did not associate with his family any more. Henry did not pay Lyman or the convertible any attention. Lyman believed that if he could get Henry to notice the convertible again, Henry might start acting like the brother that he knew before the war. Lyman took the car and damaged it almost to the point of no repair. After a few weeks, Henry noticed the convertible’s condition and began working to repair it back to its old state. Even after Henry repaired the car, it was not the same as it was originally. The convertible’s state after Lyman tried to destroy it symbolizes Henry’s mental state. Henry came home from the war, but he would never be the same person that he once was. He had a severe form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Henry did repair the car, but it was not the same as it first was. This is the same case with Henry’s mental state: He…show more content…
When Henry came back from fighting in the war, he never changed his clothes. He always wore the same outfit that he came back home in. This obviously symbolizes that Henry cannot let go of the events that happened in Vietnam. Another thing that changed about Henry was his laugh. Replacing the joyful laugh that he used to have was a laugh that sounded like he was choking. This symbolized that Henry was literally choking on the pain from his past. This foreshadowed that he would not live much longer.
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