“The Red Convertible,” by Louise Erdrich, is a distinct representation of light and darkness relating to conclusive sacrificial events. This short story takes one through what begins as a normal everyday life of two unique individuals, and as the story progresses the reader is taken through the affairs and actions that later lead to Henry’s destiny. Through the use of theme, characterization, and symbolism Erdrich delivered a remarkable and memorable story.

The theme of sacrifice is touched on throughout the entirety of the short story. Erdrich does a fine job of giving the reader clues as to the sacrifice that will take form later on. Towards the beginning of the short story, Erdrich goes on to describe how Henry was laying down with his arms spread wide open – a signal of his sacrifice that was soon to come. It is a known in many cultures that any type of spreading of arms or cross-like pose has been a great key for the theme sacrifice. Another fine example would be when Henry bit through his lip and started bleeding from it. Blood is almost an instinctive sensory object for communicating a sacrifice that will take shape in the near future, and Erdrich is sure to put such objects to use. From a passage in the story Erdrich declares, “every time he took a bite of his bread his blood fell onto it until he was eating his own blood mixed in with the food” (Erdrich, 410). Powerful words and visions, such as these, build up a great understanding in one’s own mind of Henry’s sacrificial state of being. The blood has been shed, the inevitability of a sacrifice deems true.

Another key element Erdrich touches on is characterization. While interpreting the short story one begins to notice how Lyman comes off as a lucky individual, while Henry is always struggling and is never quite in the light. A leading demonstration would be Lyman’s financial success. Lyman was always able to create wealth for himself no matter what the conditions were. “My own talent was I could always make money” (Erdrich, 407), Lyman explains. Henry, on the other hand, was never one to achieve reputable status in the field of moneymaking. Whether it was his laid-back approach or his inability to work, Henry’s financial life was always covered with a dark cloud. The drawing of numbers for the army was yet another showcase as to how Lyman was always getting lucky. In the words of Lyman, “I always had good luck with numbers, and never worried about the draft myself. I never even had to think about what my number was” (Erdrich, 409). Henry was not so lucky, however, and he ended up fighting for the army due to his unfavorable number. The luck was just never there for Henry, if only he was able to feed off Lyman’s good fortune perhaps things may have turned out differently.

The final aspect Erdrich utilizes is symbolism. The picture that Bonita captured with the camera was symbolic of Lyman’s rich, clear, and open life. Concordantly, the picture also represented the poor, dark, and lonely lifestyle that Henry later adopted. Lyman describes the picture: “My face is right out in the sun, big and round. But he might have drawn back, because the shadows on his face are deep as holes” (Erdrich 411). Lyman is explaining how this picture symbolically revels the light that is on himself and the darkness that blankets over Henry. This picture corresponds perfectly to the lives of Lyman and Henry because it was taken after the war, after Henry had changed. The largest symbol that is used frequently throughout the story is indeed the red convertible. The red convertible is symbolic of the two brothers; it shows their freedom, their relationship, and their connection. As the short story starts out the two are held together strongly by the red convertible. They are always doing something together in the vehicle - whether it be driving, talking, or just observing. The car binds the two together. It is not until later, on the other hand, that the car symbolically represents the deterioration of the two’s relationship with one another. Once Henry gets back from the army, the car is never quite the same, such the case for Henry’s life. There is no doubt that Henry has changed for the worse, and as a result, Lyman destroys many parts of the red convertible. The downfall of the car marks the slow separation of the two’s affiliation with one another. For it is the red convertible that stands as a mere metaphor for the actuality of the lives that have now moved apart from one another. They have changed, and the red convertible has accommodated.

The words of Erdrich share the sacrificial elements of a brother named Henry. Whether it be the army or himself that caused the drama in his life, one may never be sure. But the clues are evident - at one point in time Henry was a loving, caring, and respectable human being. Despite his errors and misfortune, what was done served a purpose. What was done served as his light illuminating back to all who ever knew him, it was his sacrifice.

 Filed under: Misc, Misc

About The Author

Quinton Figueroa

Quinton Figueroa

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El Paso, Texas

I am an entrepreneur at heart. Throughout my whole life I have enjoyed building real businesses by solving real problems. Business is life itself. My goal with businesses is to help move the human ...

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4 Comments

frenzy: nice book. nice review. keep

nice book. nice review.
keep writing!

Fountain: Charity bingo halls

Badly need your help. If God had wanted us to vote, he would have given us candidates.
I am from Cameroon and also now teach English, give true I wrote the following sentence: "Play games area choose a public hall to play, setup a private party for your friends or public halls.So if gala is leaving, hopefully somebody else will move in there."

Thanks for the help :o, Truman.

Anonymous: excellent review!!! i loved

excellent review!!! i loved the writing, reminds me a lot of the way i try to write, but you did a far better job than i would have!!! :) LOVED the description and "relation" you used...keep it up!!! GREAT JOB!!!

mary: oh^^^^^^^^^^^

excellent reviews and i believe i like it !

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