Symbolically Henry tries to repair the car as a way of getting close to his brother. Erdrich has used symbolism to express the concerns, which soldiers usually have in regard to their future relationships after the war (Beidler and Barton 400). The relationship between Henry and Lyman is an expression of the saddening effects that war has one close relationship between the soldiers and their family members. The author has also connected the death of Henry to the death of the convertible as well as the death of the relationship they had with Lyman.
When Henry jumped into the river and drowned, Lyman was assured that he will never be able to see his brother again and so he runs the convertible into the river, and it was forever gone alongside the relationship he had with his brother (Erdrich 461). It is evident that the author has used symbolism to represent and show how relationships are affected by war. Relationships usually start out being healthy, but war transforms them with no hope of ever returning into normalcy.
In the end, relationships end up being destroyed by war. Erdirch also uses the fatigues and boots of Henry as symbols in “The Red Convertible”. They have been used as representation of the permanent effects of war on relationships and persons. Henry constantly wore his field jacket as well as worn in clothes that he had come back with after the Vietnam War. The refusal to change is a clear indication of his permanent connection with the war and that he will always carry the horrors and scars of war on him.
The fatigues are also used to express his feelings of loneliness (Stookey 39). He used fatigue to isolate himself and to appear different in order to express how he feels. He refuses to wear the clothes he wore before going to war as he does not feel the same as before. The author has, therefore, used the combat boots of Henry as a literal cause of his death, though symbolically war was the cause (Erdrich 460). His boots are a representation of war, both as part of the uniform wore during the war and as the cause of his death; the terror of war drowns Henry.
The author has also used the picture that Bonita had taken of the boys with the red convertible. In the picture, the face of Lyman is happy and clear (it is right out in the sun) while that of Henry had been hidden by a shadow that appears in the picture; the shadows on his face as deep as holes (Erdrich 465). This image is a foreshadow of the events that were to come where Henry would fade away from his family.
Louise, Erdrich. The Red Convertible: Selected and New Stories, 1978-2008. HarperCollins, 2010, pg 461-465
Lorena, Stookey. Louise Erdrich: A Critical Companion. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999, pg 39
Louise, Erdrich. The Round House. HarperCollins, 2012, pg 1-368
Laura, Miller. The Round House by Louise Erdrich-Review, 2013. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/may/18/round-house-louise-erdrich-review
Franci, Washburn. Tracks on a Page: Louise Erdrich, Her Life and Works: Louise Erdrich, Her Life and Works. ABC-CLIO, 2013, pg 1-145
Maria, Russo. Disturbing the spirits: ‘The Round House’ by Louise Erdrich. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/books/review/the-round-house-by-louise-erdrich.html?_r=0
Peter, Beidler and Gay, Barton. A Readers Guide to the Novels of Louise Erdrich University of Missouri Press, 2006, pg 400-417