A Deconstruction of the Themes of The Red Convertible
The Red Convertible is the story about the trials and tribulations of two brothers, Lyman and Henry, and their red convertible. The story covers the relationship between the brothers from the rime when they buy the red convertible to the time when Henry and the convertible drown in a raging river (Dorris, Edrich and Chavkin 14). In the story, the red convertible is used to symbolize the ups and downs of the two brothers’ relationship. The car has come to signify their relationship to the extent that the state of the car can paint a good picture of the kind of relationship Henry and Lyman have. When the convertible is in a prime condition, their relationship is also in a prime condition, but when the convertible is whacked up, their relationship is also ruined. In the end, the red convertible “dies” alongside Henry and their relationship in a raging river (Dorris, Edrich and Chavkin 15). In Edrich’s story the recurring themes of love, death, poverty, trauma and loneliness are brought to bear as each brother deals with each of these themes. Theme of Love
The theme of love is clearly illustrated throughout the book. In the book, there is a lot of love between the narrator (Lyman), his brother (Henry), and the red convertible. The narrator’s close relationship with his brother began after they bought the red convertible and ever since that day they have lived to share good and bad moments together (Eldrich 394). The good moments occurred during the first few years after they bought the red convertible. The car lightened up their lives and they used to hop with it from one state to another looking for fun and happiness. In one occasion, Lyman and Henry found a lady stranded on the road and asked to give her a ride to her house in Alaska. The trip was long and when they arrived, the girl’s family was so appreciative of their kindness that they allowed Henry and Lyman to stay with them for a while. While they were at Sussy’s house, they had a lot of fun and there was sadness on the face of Sussy when Henry and his brother informed them that they would be living (Eldrich 395). The car played a very important role in creating a strong bond between Lyman and Henry. It is used throughout the story to symbolize the highs and lows of Lyman’s relationship with his brother (James 32). When the car was in prime condition, there was a lot of happiness between Lyman and his brother. Lyman talks about the nights he and his brother would spend sleeping in the wild not worrying about the problems of the Native Indian world. However, when the relationship between Henry and Lyman was on the rocks, the car was also on the rocks. This fact was clearly illustrated after Henry came back from the Vietnam War. He would not speak and so Lyman took a sledgehammer and whacked the red convertible (Eldrich 397). This was used to indicate that the cordial relationship between him and Henry was now on the rocks. Theme of Death
Although the theme of death is brought out at the latter stages of the short story, it is one of the themes that mark a major turning point in Lyman’s relationship with his brother. This theme is illustrated when Henry and Lyman are separated as a result of Henry enlisting as a US marine. Henry goes to war and comes back a changed man and this marks the beginning of the end of his cordial relationship with Lyman. Lyman does not understand what has happened to Henry because he is no longer the quiet person he used to be (Dorris, Edrich and Chavkin 16). Henry no longer speaks or smiles like he used to and this shatters Lyman because he is not sure on where he would get his brother back. The good memories Henry had with his brother seem to have been erased by the traumatic memories of the Vietnam War. This state of affairs forces Lyman to rip apart the red convertible in a bid to revive his relationship with his brother. However, this does not seem to work because it only brings...
Cited: Dorris, Michael, Louise Edrich and Alan Chavkin. Conversations with Louise Edrich and Michael Dorris. New York: Prentice Hall, 1994.
Eldrich, Louise. The Red Convertible. McMahan, Elizabeth, Susan X. Day, Robert Funk, And Linda S. Coleman. Literature And The Writing Process. Longman, 2010.James, Missy. Reading Literature and Writing Argument. New York: Routelege, 2004. p. 394-400
Nagel, James. The contemporary American short story cycle: The ethnic resonance of genre. New York: Longman, 2004.
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