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rcThe paragraph that follows was written as a personal response to the story, "The Red Convertible," during a class exercise on Louise Erdrich's story. A suggested theme is included in the body of the paragraph (one of many possibilities, of course!).
A First Reaction to "The Red Convertible"

     Louise Erdrich’s “The Red Convertible,” gives me new insights into the lives of First Nations people while, at the same time, illuminating a serious theme. Although the adventures the two brothers have are fairly typical—buying a car together, taking a road trip—there is a uniquely First Nations flavour. One thing I learned is that Henry and Lyman could easily go from reservation to reservation to find a place to stay. Soon, however, the story begins to become more serious. When Henry returns from Vietnam, he “was very different,” not surprising considering he was a prisoner of war. The detail that stays with me is when Henry had “bitten through his lip” while watching TV. I find Lyman’s attempt to help his brother by making the red convertible “look just as beat up as I could,” thus encouraging him to leave the TV and work on the car, makes me want to cry. Many of us have experienced this feeling of helplessness in the face of another person’s psychological pain. In fact, Lyman’s actions, although futile, gives us an important theme: It is not always possible to heal someone damaged by war no matter how hard we try, and as Erdrich makes clear in the final paragraph: “It is all finally dark.” Indeed there is much to learn and appreciate from “The Red Convertible.”—Brad Hyde; first draft on October 18, 2006 (225 words)

 (October 18, 2006)