In Louise Erdrich’s “The Red Convertible” the usage of symbolism, setting, and the first-person point of view, exemplifies how war can take a tragic toll on a person. It completely and utterly detaches them from the person they once were, and leaves behind an empty and often angry shell. Despite the efforts of others to recreate some semblance of the life they once had, normalcy is impossible after such a dramatic change.
In her critical essay on “The Red Convertible”, Rena Korb describes three different journeys that the Lamartine brothers share. The first is a summer road trip they take after they purchase the car together, the second is Henrys tour in Vietnam, and, finally, the third is their trip together to Red River. Throughout all of these events one thing is symbolically constant; the red convertible.
The first time the brothers see the car it seems to have qualities beyond that of an average car, “I thought of the word repose, because the car wasn’t simply stopped, parked, or whatever. That car reposed…”(144 Erdrich). The word repose in this quote conveys a sense of calm and in effortlessness. This is also the sense that you get from the two brothers. They are young and without care, and have a bond that is as yet undefined but also unquestioned. Furthermore the car seems to represent possibility and a promise of something more spectacular then they are used to. Jennifer Bussey further infers that, “…it [the convertible] represented freedom…Together, Lyman and Henry used the car to leave the reservation where they lived and to see what was beyond its borders.”
Upon returning from their road trip, Henry is called to war. While he is away, Lyman works to maintain his relationship with his brother through letters, much like he works to maintain the condition of the car. He figures his brother will return the same person who left as he has kept the convertible the same as when he left. Unfortunately, that is not the case, as...