sample-Literary Analysis Paper: The Red Convertible



Literary Analysis Paper: The Red Convertible

Louse Erdrich’s short story, The Red Convertible, centers on the narrator’s (Lyman) and his elder brother Henry, who co-own a red convertible car. The brothers are the main characters in the story, which makes it easier for the narrator to describe the characters and their background as it relates to the plot. Narration is one of the essential literary devices used by Louse Erdrich is narration ( Through the narrator, Lyman, who informs the reader about his past life, as well as, how the co-ownership of the red convertible car transpired. On this subject, my knowledge and understanding of the main characters is attributable to telling. Lyman is depicted as a hardworking but unlucky person. For instance, since his brother won enough money to buy out the car, Lyman has been subjected to walking (Erdrich, 2009). Through the narrator’s description, it is logical to conclude that Lyman’s character is based on misfortunes in efforts to highlight the life of Henry, his brother. The telling process adopted by the narrator highlights the strong and weak character attributes of each of the brothers. In addition, it brings interest to their past lives, as Lyman flashes back to the time he spent selling spiritual bouquets for the mission and shining shoes at the American Legion Hall.

Henry, Lyman’s elder brother is portrayed as lucky and decisive. He influences his brother into buying the red Olds, and then later buys his share to make the car his own. As evident of the story, Henry hurt Lyman by being insensitive in his efforts to own the car. The tone depicted in the statement “Lyman walks everywhere he goes” indicates that Lyman, the narrator would have preferred driving to walking (Erdrich, 2009). Henry’s character is crucial to the story’s plot and setting; his love for cars and ability to earn money make car co-ownership deal possible. Importantly, his limited interaction with society and family depicts Lyman as an emotional, spiritual, and socially aware individual. The narrator’s description of the characters and their background enable the reader to relate to the bond between the brothers ( Lyman says that when they went to purchase the car, his money was in cash while Henry’s was in checks.

The red convertible car also plays a character role in the story. Despite its lack of involvement in dialogue, it is crucial to the plot development and the relevance of the story to the audience. The red Olds is central to the brothers’ bond; it helps Lyman and Henry establish a close relationship (Gale, 2016). Concerning the character attributes of the main characters, both Lyman and Henry shows a significant share of their values and morals as the storyline changes through different times in their lives. For instance, Lyman worked for the Juliet Café while Henry worked for a Jewel Bearing Plant (Erdrich, 2009). It takes courage and determination to relate well in the workplace; in this regard, Lyman was a teenager when he worked in the café, which indicates his determination. On the other hand, despite his silent character, Henry working at a Jewel Bearing Plant shows his hardworking nature and determination to become successful. From a personal standpoint, the co-ownership of the red Olds shows that the brothers are mature enough to unite for a common reason. Their determination, hard work, and luck facilitate changes in their lives centered on individual needs and dreams.

Both Henry and Lyman are dynamic characters; this is due to changes in their social, emotional, and psychological life aspects. Firstly, their relationship, which is symbolized by the red Olds, changes from time to time. Before they purchased the red convertible, they were closely related. The car became an important element in their daily lives; however, that was affected after Henry decided to buy out his brother’s share (Erdrich, 2009). The author uses symbolism to indicate that the brothers attached their relationship to material things, which prompts each one of them to work tirelessly. It is logical to argue that co-purchasing the car was a mistake considering that they had no shared interests. Lyman’s act to push the car into the river shows that he had no profound love and care for his brother (Gale, 2016). It also portrays the truth about their relationship, which is founded on freedom, energy, and aggression. Lyman grows from a naïve young boy to a naïve young man, which is evident of his actions and approach to varying life elements.

The setting and context of the Louse Erdrich’s short story (in a Native American reservation) help the main characters. Embarking on a road trip would not be possible if Henry and his brother Lyman lived in an urban center. Additionally, their approach to life would have different considering that social and family aspects influence decision-making. On this subject, the brothers’ characters are interdependent; for instance, the themes of family and brotherhood are portrayed better. Lyman had to rely on Henry to purchase the car during the first co-ownership agreement (Erdrich, 2009). On the other hand, Henry’s decision to buy out his brother’s shares prompted a sense enmity, which triggered Lyman’s naivety and ultimate decision to push the red Olds into the river. The story is more relevant and significant to its contextual setting with the combination of both characters. Their growth, involvement in developing the storyline, and depiction of character attributes enable Louse Erdrich to pass various themes.



Erdrich, L. (2009). The Red Convertible. HarperLuxe.

Gale, C. L. (2016). A Study Guide for Louise Erdrich’s” Red Convertible”. Gale, Cengage Learning. Literary Analysis: Using Elements of Literature. Retrieved from

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