A Summary of “The Red Convertible” By Lyman Lamartine

The story “The Red convertible” by Lyman Lamartine is about the relation between two brothers, Lyman and the Henry, before and after Henry went to war in Vietnam. While there, he was held prisoner by the enemy.

The story begins at a point when the narrator has received a large check for the insurance of his restaurant after it gets destroyed by the tornado. He joins up with Henry, who has just been laid off from work, and they buy a red convertible. At this point in their relationship, we see very close brothers who almost don’t let go of each other at all. When they return home after a long trip, henry is called up to duty and joins the army. After nine months at war, Henry is captured by the Vietnamese troops and held prisoner for six months.

On being released, he returns home a very withdrawn man and spends most of his time in silence watching TV. The family considers taking Henry to hospital but then reject the idea. Instead, Lyman thinks that the red convertible might bring his brother back. He takes a hammer and beats the car out of shape. After a month, henry discovers the damage and berates the brother

Henry sets to repairing the car alone, which saddens the brother for he had thought they would repair together to rejuvenate their old times. During the repair process, Henry pretends to be recovering to his prewar self. Eventually, Lyman realizes that this recovery is only superficial. When the car is fully repaired, henry suggests they go out with the car like old times.

Out there, Lyman discovered a sensation in his chest which he translates as the same anguish the brother is feeling. He calls upon his brother who is sitting next to him to “wake up”. Resigned, Henry says that it won’t help and requests to be allowed to cool down in the water. He jumps into the river and starts drowning. The efforts of Lyman to save him do not succeed and he dies. After getting out of the water, Lyman drives the car into the river and lets it follow his brother.

In conclusion, this story depicts the damage and death that occurs after war for some of the heroes of war. The story is worsened by Henry’s belief that he did not fulfill his expectation as an American warrior. Instead, he opts to go the anger, hopelessness and despair way.

References

Hafen, P. Jane. Reading Louise Erdrich’s “Love Medicine.” Boise, Idaho: Boise State University Press, 2003.

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