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Summary of The Red Convertible

Often times, an inanimate object can be as important and sometimes more important than the characters of the story. In Louise Erdrich's "The Red Convertible," the car played an equally important role with that of the characters, but for different reasons.Two brothers, Lyman and Henry, had very little in common other than their blood. One day they decided to catch a ride to Winnipeg. The car was introduced while these two were doing some sightseeing in the city. They spotted the red Oldsmobile convertible. Lyman, the storyteller, almost made the car a living thing when he said, "There it was, parked, large as life. Really as if it were alive." (461) The brothers used all of the money they had, less some change for gas to get home, to buy the car. The car's significance was the bond that it created between the brothers. The purchase of the vehicle brought these two together with a common interest: the car. Once the bond was formed, the brothers became inseparable, at least for a while. The boys spent the whole summer in the car. They explored new places; met new people and furthered the bond that the car had created. When they returned from their trip, Henry was sent to war. He left the car with Lyman. While Henry was gone, Lyman spent his time pampering and fixing the car. Lyman saw the car as an extension of Henry. Lyman used the car to maintain an emotional bond with his brother who was thousands of miles away.During the war, Henry was taken P.O.W. and spent time in a Vietnamese prison. When he returned home, Lyman said, "Henry was very different...the change was no good," (463). Henry was constantly paranoid and evidently mentally unstable as a result of his wartime trauma. When the family had exhausted all efforts to help Henry, Lyman thought of the car. Though Henry had not even looked at the car since his return, Lyman said, "I thought the car might bring back the old Henry somehow. So I bided my time and waited for my cha...

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