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. “The Red Convertible” is a short story by American-Ojibwe author, Louise Erdrich . The short narrative follows a Native-American family’s attempts to deal with the.

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One day just dirt or moss, the next day flowers and long grass. That summer, they took the car on a trip without an itinerary or any plans. Over a month later, Henry confronts Lyman about the state of the car, and Lyman goads him into fixing the car himself.

Slightly drunk and high, he suddenly saw clearly in the photo how haunted Henry was, with his shadowed eyes and forced, painful smile. When Holt published it init became a bestseller that won awards such as the National Book Critics Circle Award and the American Academy of Arts and Letters award for best first fiction. Early on, Lyman establishes that he lives on a reservation, which implies that he is probably Native American.

This image foreshadows the events to come, and Henry’s fading away from his family. The family visited the reservation often, giving Erdrich a strong sense of her Native American heritage.

Twice Henry tries to give Lyman full ownership of the car, but Lyman refuses because the car symbolizes their union. Henry even seems calmer, and Lyman starts to think that maybe his unusual homemade plan for treating Henry has worked. The old Henry has been replaced by a war-hardened soldier who cannot simply rejoin his and Lyman’s youthful brotherly relationship.

Lyman wants to remain close with his brother and restore his personality, so he spends countless hours trying to repair the car. Henry continues to be withdrawn as he fixes the cnovertible in the winter, but when spring comes, he seems renewed if only temporarily.


Lyman also suggests that Henry would object to going to a hospital, which may be because of the silencing and stigma around illness, mental illness in particular. When he was fifteen, he started working at the Joliet Cafe as a dishwasher, and he became first part owner and then sole owner when he was only sixteen. She can create value and meaning through a Native worldview or through a contemporary American worldview or ded at the same time.

The Red Convertible () – Wikipedia

He said that he fixed it so that he could give it back to Lyman. It also reveals the gap of knowledge between Henry and Lyman, exacerbated by their silence. In the final sentence, Lyman eschews referring to himself in the first person. The branches bent down all convrtible me like a tent or a stable. For Lyman, images of a healthy, happy Henry are embodied in the spirit of the red convertible. You could erddich expect him to change for the better, I know. The only incident in which Lyman holds back from the reader is the one in which he lost his brother.

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The Red Convertible Summary & Analysis from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes

He struggles to re-adapt to his normal life with his family at home and eventually is drowned by his boots filling with water, or more symbolically by mentalities he adopted during his time in the war.

Lyman felt very close to his brother, even when his brother was emotionally unavailable.

They hit each other too hard, drawing blood, and finally they stop, agreeing that Lyman will have the car. At the end, when Henry drowns and is lost forever, Lyman pushes the car into the river to sink with him, representing that the connection that they once had is srdrich drowned, dead, and lost forever.

This journey is not a pleasurable one; Henry must go without the company of his brother and the potent force of the red convertiblw. Fraternal bonds, freedom, innocence, control, and wisdom—all of these themes are carried by one red convertible.


At the time of the story, she is not married although she has been married many times in the past. Conevrtible Anishinaabe culture, like many indigenous cultures, relies on stories and storytellers to communicate and therefore preserve cultural values.

The Red Convertible (1984)

Chavkin, Allan Richard, ed. The color red is symbolically associated with love, passion, health, and vitality; however, red is also connected with the sun and all gods of war, anger, bloodlust, and vengeance.

The work is also out of synch or sequence, as if it was being recalled and then told by the narrator. The Lamartine family lives on a reservation, just as Erdrich’s did.

Lyman convfrtible the car as a means to reach out to Henry. This line also carries another meaning that we need to keep in mind.

Perhaps it occurs to Lyman for the first time that Henry could easily have been miserable enough to kill himself. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie PolicyPrivacy Policyand Terms of Service.

One summer, they travel all over the Great Plains, into Canada, even up to Alaska in the car without a care in the world. When she tells Lyman and Henry that she wants to go home to Alaska, they take her. Notify coonvertible of new comments via email. 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. This dual vision allows her either to use one code to illuminate another, convedtible to ignore one code and stay within another if she wishes.