Louise Erdrich’s ’’ The Red Convertible’’:
Actions Are Stronger Than Words
Introduction to Literature
Essay #2, Topic #2
Actions Are Stronger Than Words in Louise Erdrich’s ‘’ The Red Convertible’’
‘’ The Red Convertible,’’ by Louise Erdrich, is a short story that focusses on the relationship between two brothers and a car. It explores the story of brothers who wants to have the same relationship that they had before one of them left for the Army. While Lyman tries to make the relation work, Henry does not seem to notice what his brother does for him. Even though the relationship has ups and downs, the brothers still love each other.
First, through the symbolism, the author shows the relationship of the brothers. This is demonstrated by the fact that when Lyman sees the picture, his mood changes. Lyman realizes how much his brother has changed since Henry came back. Before Lyman puts the picture in a brown bag he said, ‘’ I do not know what it was, but his smile had changed, or maybe it was gone ‘’ (Erdrich 379). He puts the picture in a brown bag because it reminds him of how much his brother is no longer the same. Otherwise, this action does not show that Lyman does not love or leave him it just shows that he finds it hard to have some flash-backs of the past, and this picture reminds him of too many memories. In addition, the car is a link between the brothers, the car represents the relationship. When the car is in bad shape, the relationship is not going well. For example, it is clearly shown when in the story the Lyman says, ‘’ that red car looks like shit’’ (378). Lyman uses the car as a way to forget everything that happened to them. For instance, at the end, when Henry jumps in the water, Lyman pushes the car, with the lights on, at the same place (382). This is demonstrated by the fact that by pushing the car in the water, Lyman no longer has his brother and therefore does not need the car anymore. Also, Lyman trying to make him understand that there is always hope, there comes the lights on. Furthermore, the car is also a way for the brothers to talk with each other without thinking that Henry has changed. As Lyman noticed that while they talk about Henry ‘’ [strungs] together more than six words at once ‘’ (378). Consequently, the symbolism creates a more relaxed atmosphere between the brothers which is more comfortable.
Secondly, through characterization, the author shows that Lyman and Henry act differently than before, which causes tension. For instance, being in the Army changes Henry, which changes his mood with his family. Before he goes to the Army, he was happy and then, when Henry comes back, he is no longer happy. For Lyman, to see his brother act like that, which is the same thing for everyone who has brothers/sisters can make it hard to accept that maybe they can change. During all this time, the narrator says: ‘’ I told myself he didn’t know what he was doing’’