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The Red Convertible
Transcript of The Red Convertible
"The Red Convertible" is a short story from Love Medicine, a collection of narratives written in 1984 by American author Louise Erdrich.
Louise Erdrich is an American writer of novels, poetry, and children's books featuring Native American characters and settings. She is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, a band of the Anishinaabe.
Convertible" is set in 1974 on a Chippewa Native American reservation in North Dakota. The setting briefly extends as far as Alaska, when Lyman and Henry embark on a road trip.
"The Red Convertible" & "Indian Education"
The brothers have grown up together for years, and have a close bond with each other. This bond remains strong, until Henry eventually is sent off to war. Upon his arrival, Henry is a completely different person, and the bond is no longer what it used to be when they were kids.
The story leads Henry to be drafted into the Vietnam War. The relationship between Lyman and Henry sees a drastic change after Henry's return back home. During his tenure, Henry was held as a prisoner of war for three years. His life changing experience led him to become distant with his brother. The relationship with the two just isn't the same anymore. Louise Erdrich, describes the story of two brothers who lose their relationship because of a war, which is also responsible of breaking many other relationships.
Lyman is the narrator of the story, and acts as the protagonist. He talks of his relationship and how it seemed to change throughout the years. He recounts the events, the good and bad, that led to the downfall of Henry.
Henry is Lyman's brother. They buy the red convertible that plays an important role later on in the story. He is drafted into the Vietnam War and returns a changed man. Life has now become a struggle, and adapting to normal life proves to be harder than expected.
Suzy is a girl that that Lyman and Henry meet on a road trip. They decide to drive her back home.
Bonita is the younger sister of Lyman and Henry. Takes the last picture of Henry, where he was acting more like himself.
In the story, "The Red Convertible," Louise Erdrich uses figurative language and imagery to show how the relationship between the brothers changes. This is a short story, from one of the most highly respected fiction writers. It's an adventure story in which the protagonist (Lyman) goes on a journey to fix the bond between himself and his brother.
Point of View
Louise Erdrich uses themes such as the red convertible to symbolize the relationship of two brothers, and how it changes.
convertible they bought in the beginning, sees changes throughout the story much like Lyman and Henry's relationship. The final resting place of Henry and the
convertible happens to be on the
Meet Sherman Alexie
"MR. ALEXIE'S IS ONE OF THE MAJOR LYRIC VOICES OF OUR TIME."
The New York Times Book Review
"EMOTIONALLY SPRING-LOADED, LINGUISTICALLY GYMNASTIC, AND DEVASTATINGLY FUNNY…"
San Francisco Chronicle
Sherman Alexie is a poet, writer and filmmaker. Alexie grew up on a reservation surrounded by poverty,
Language: Figurative Language
Time & Place Written:Spokane Indian Reservation during Victor's time in school (1st-12th grade)
A converstaion with Erdrich
The car and Henry suffer from neglect in the story. The convertible is neglected for some time, to see if it draws out a reaction in Henry.
Who is Louise Erdrich?
What inspired her to write?
Did she always want to write?
Why does she focus on Native Americans in her work?
This story is steeped in verbal irony. The reader can get a real sense of how tough it was to grow up on the Reservation. Victor was tormented by everyone from his Indian classmates to his teachers. He witnessed his parents daily struggles with alcohol and depression. Victor was tough enough to overcome all of his challenges by making the right choices, "Oh do you remember those sweet, almost innocent choices that the Indian boys were forced to make?"
Erdrich uses symbolism throughout the story of Lyman and his relationship with his brother. The story starts with foreshadow, " Now Henry owns the whole car, and his younger brother Lyman (that's myself), Lyman walks everywhere he goes." The reader can sense something is not quite right and is led throughout the story while more details evolve. The Vietnam War is the backdrop for the story, which gives another clue that the story will not end well.
First person-Lyman Lamartine
Allows readers to experience the emotion of the events unfolding first hand.
Follows victors life starting off in 1st grade and takes readers throughout his education ending in 12th grade.
Takes place on and off the Indian reservation he lives in on.
The Red Convertible is told to us in the past tense.
Victor faces discrimination over and over again throughout his school career mainly from the teachers he had.
Even though Victor faces discrimination throughout school he keeps pushing forward. Never letting it get to him.
Point of View: First person
Climax: End of "Eleventh Grade"
Major Conflict: the stereotypes Indians face.
Antagonist: Narrator, school kids, teacher,
and general public.
In "Ninth Grade," Alexie writes, “Sharing dark skin doesn't necessarily make two men brothers.” Brotherhood does not necessarily mean that those who look like you or share your ethnic or national identity will be your support system. For example, when Victor faints in the school gym, the Chicano teacher does not help him. Instead, Victor's white friends exhibit brotherhood toward him by taking him to the hospital.
Symbols & Motifs
Narrator shares few quotes:
"There is more than one way to starve."
"Sharing dark skin doesn't necessarily make two men brothers."
Major motifs: Indians
Symbols & Motifs
The red convertible and Henry biting through his lip watching TV are two symbols that stand out.
A major motif; the red convertible
: Henry going off to war and coming back a changed person.
In “Indian Education” Sherman Alexie tells his story of overcoming racial limitations through the narrator, “Victor”. At the start, Victor defined himself as an Indian, but later on he distances himself from the label.