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The Red Convertible

The Red Convertible

Henry is an unrestrained, affectionate brother who develops depression due to his service time. The dynamic nature as a character is noticed through entering into Lyman’s mind and understanding what he thinks and how he sees things. His mental and vivid explanations illustrate the changing nature of Henry’s life. Susy, the short girl with hair in buns and a lumber shirt that looked comical, is relevant in illustrating the different drastic changes Henry undergoes. By entering Lyman’s mind, the readers understand who he is as a character and what he represents, thinks, and feels. Lyman is a unique child. He is the only child let into the American Legion for shoe shining and doesn’t struggle to raise money.

Further, his uniqueness shows when he sells the Christmas spiritual bouquet, and the nuns let him keep the percentage. He gets a job as a dishwasher at Joliet café, which he later owns. As a vivid explainer, Lyman helps readers paint a vivid picture of events. Additionally, through Lyman, the reader understands Henry. Lyman illustrates their life, personal relationships with Henry, and how Henry evolves. From the happy, high-spirited brother to the unpredictable, silent, still brother he becomes. Lyman’s illustrations elucidate the psychological effects in a person’s life, the prerequisites for that life, and how best to handle life-evolving moments.

Depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) lay the foundations for Henry jumping onto the river. Varied emotional feelings that he undergoes and the more meaningless life after the war contribute to his decision to jump into the river. Henry intentionally jumps onto the river. He says, “Ha! Ha! Take good care of it.” Accordingly, this was a statement meant to prepare his brother that he was going to jump into the river; therefore, Henry intends to drown. “My boots are filling,” he adds. He says this in a normal voice. Then he’s gone. “A branch comes by. Another branch…” The effects of the war take quite a toll on him. In an attempt to save himself, Henry decides to drown himself. It’s a deliberate suicide, and this can be illustrated when they sit with their brother by the river and drink beers. They throw the beers as far as possible to see the effect of the current and how fast the current will take them. Having had suicidal thoughts triggers Henry to drown himself.

Henry enjoyed the freedom and was fun-loving. Henry enjoys Susy’s hair, as Lyman illustrates. “Jump on my shoulders.” “So she did that, and her hair reached down past his waist, and he started twirling, this way and that, so her hair was flung out from side to side. “Well, we laughed. It was a funny sight, the way he did it”. He was recruited into North Dakota Highways Training Camp, marking Henry’s changes from a free-loving and free-spirited brother to a closed and sad person. He experiences different traumatic experiences, with the red colour symbolizing the bloodshed in war. He later overcomes this experience and decides to make the car, illustrating his attempt to pursue the transformation pathway from PTSD. In an attempt to adapt to avoidance motivation, Henry develops the aspects of restlessness.

Henry comes back a quiet and reserved person instead of his outgoing and bubbly character. He becomes silent, unsettled, and still. The kind of stillness that creeps one out. War causes some of the most drastic changes seen in Henry. Bloodshed during war changes Henry’s visualization, and he even fears his red convertible car. Colour is such an integral aspect of our daily lives; the association of colour with what we have seen becomes attachable. To Henry, the red colour brings back the negative excitement of war, and he associates colour with what happened in his past experiences during the war. The colour of the red car signifies something terrible that happened at war. Conversely, Henry suffers from post-traumatic syndrome, and he associates the red colour of the car with bloodshed during war.


Erdrich, L. (2022). Retrieved 3 March 2022, from

Erdrich, L. (2022). The Red Convertible Summary & Analysis | LitCharts. LitCharts. Retrieved 3 March 2022, from

I am understanding the Red Convertible Essay on Symbolism, The Red Convertible. Essay Examples. (2022). Retrieved 3 March 2022, from


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A requirement for all English II classes is to complete a literary analysis paper. A literary analysis paper focuses on analyzing the techniques that make a literary work effective, identifying them in the books you read and writing an essay explaining what you’ve identified. You will need to read The Red Convertible by Louise Erdrich (page 126) and choose one of the following topics for your literary analysis paper:

The Red Convertible

The Red Convertible

General Paper Requirements:

2-3 page essay
12 font Times New Roman
typed and double-spaced
The title page is not included in the 3-4 pages
The paper is due during week 13
The paper should be written in APA style:

Topics for Literary Analysis Paper:

Describe what the main characters are like and how we come to know them (by telling? by showing? by dialogue? By entering their minds? by the significance of their names?) Are they dynamic characters or static characters? To what extent does what we know about Henry depend on what we know about Lyman, and what difference does that make?
Why does Henry jump into the river? Does he intend to drown, or is it accidental? In what ways does he change in the story, and what things cause him to change?

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