Monday, November 28, 2011

The Red Convertible

This short story by Louise Erdich, can be summarized as being about the relationship between two, Native American brothers. One question that I had while reading this story, was" I ponder if the brothers had the same mother, or not"? This is due to the fact, that the story inplies that the brothers may have been fathered by two, different men.
The story, is about the life of the two brothers named Henry and Lyman. Like many other Native Americans, them and the rest of their family reside on an Indian reservation. The brothers share an close relationship, until the oldest brother Henry is sent off to serve in the Vietnam War. Even though he is not killed in battle, when he comes home, he is an "broken shell" of himself. He is far from being the same person, that he had been before. The story concluded with Henry taking his own life.
I felt like this was an very depressing story to read. I feel like Louise Erdich is an very talented writer, and I will most likely be reading more of her works in the future. However, I have noticed that many Native American writers use themes of melancholy in their writings. Even though this characters are most likely fictional, I feel like this story rings true for many soldiers that have engaged in battle. Regardless of their socioeconomic class and race.
One connection that I had to other readings that have been covered in this course, is that it made me think of how unlike this story is from the poem "From Blossoms". While "From Blossoms" is possibly interpeted as being an poem about nature and livelihood, "The Red Convertible" is very depressing to read. Lastly, when it comes to any connections that I could make to other stories or what came to mind while reading this text, is that I could not help, but think of all the movies that I have seen that featured either exclusively on Native Americans, or those serving in battle in general. One movie that came to mind was "Flags of our Fathers". This film was released several years ago. This movie was based on an true story. This film had been directed by the notable Clint Eastwood. The film tells the story of the soldiers, that were engaging in the battle with the Japanese over the island of Iwo Jima. This film chronicles the lives of three, young soldiers as they return home; after the war's end.   One of the soldiers was an Native American by the name of Ira Hayes. This film offers an true-life portrayal of the alcoholism issues, that this poor, young man had to endure going through.
I feel as though this story, can be applied to what is going on in American society to this very day. When soldiers are returning back from serving in the Middle East, they are often battling suicidal thoughts and PTSD. These soldiers often feel like their families cannot understand, what they went through. This is due to the atrocities that they witnessed. Also, I feel like this can be said for any soldier that has served in an war. Rather it be World War II, Korean War, or the Vietnam War; these men and often women that were sent overseas had to witness tragedies that they are unable to describe.
Lastly, this story made me think of "Smoke Signals". This is an movie with only an Native American cast. This film stars Adam Beach, whom also appeared in "Flags of of our Fathers". The movie follows the trials and tribulations, that two men by the names of Vincent and Thomas had to go through in their young ages. This film dealt with topics, that often occur on Indian reservations, like alcoholism and abandonment.
Lastly, I feel as though people should be aware of the problems that Native Americans face. Many an times, people forget about all that the Native Amercians had to go through. Native Americans often have to live in poverty on the reservations, and struggle with addiction problems and health-related issues. I would recommend for anyone, to either watch Native American films or to read an story by an Native American author.

1 comment:

  1. I would like to mention, what was covered in class on the lecture of Louise Erdich's "The Red COnvertible". It had been mentioned, that this story had been told in an series of flashbacks and that is why this story was told in past tense. That younger brother Lyman is reflecting on his life while his older brother Henry had still been alive. It was also covered, how his older brother had been an entirely different person, from the end than he was at the beginning of the story. Also, it was observed how the war in Vietnam was the outside source, that had afflicted the family. It is also im portant to note, that there is an sterotypes against Native American males. In films, Native Americans are portrayed as being strong and brave. However, in "The Red Convertible", the reader can see Lyman's brother as being an valuable person after his time in the war. That not all Native American males are able ot conquer everything, they set their eyes on. Lastly, it was discussed how harsh the life is on the reservations. That the people often live in poverty and have deal with isolation. However, before the war took Henry away, life was all right for the family. However, the Vietnam War changed life drastically for Lyman and the rest of his family.