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Character and Point of View in “The Red Convertible” Essay

“The Red Convertible” is a short story by Louis Erdrich, in which two native American brothers named Marty and Henry decide to buy a red convertible Oldsmobile together. The two brothers spend much of the summer travelling around together in the car until the older brother, Stephan, is deployed to Vietnam. When Stephan returns, he is not the same and Marty tries desperately to recover their past relationship. The round, static, perseverant character of Marty in “The Red Convertible” is revealed through the first person point of view.

The younger brother in the story, Marty, is round and static. Throughout the entire story, the reader is given insight into Marty’s thoughts and feelings, such as, “I was sorry I’d ever bought it, though, because of Stephan, and I was also sorry I’d bought color” (Erdrich 5). Marty does not openly convey this statement to his family. Marty’s beliefs and values do not change over the course of the story. In the beginning he, “thought back to times we’d sat still for whole afternoons” (5) and in the end of the story he yells at Stephan, “wake up, wake up, wake up!” (8). This shows that at the end of the story, Marty wants things to be normal just like he did in the beginning of the story.

Marty’s perseverant nature influences the story because it shows how deeply he longs for his relationship with his brother to be normal again, and creates a sense of desperation. For example, Marty says, “One night Stephan was off somewhere. I took myself a hammer. I went out to that car and I did a number to its underside. Whacked it up” (6). This shows how much he is willing to do to make Stephan normal again despite Stephan’s serious condition. Also, when Marty says, “By the time I get out of the river, off the snag I pulled myself onto, the sun is down” it is implied that he tried to save Stephan from drowning, again showing how desperate Marty is to have his brother back.

The point of view of the story is first. The author repeatedly uses statements like “I’m laughing so hard” (10) and, “I walk back to the car” (10). This makes it clear that the story is being told from Marty’s point of view. The effect of using a first person point of view in the story is allowing the reader to have an emotional connection with Marty because it puts the reader in his shoes. The story may not be effective if told from another point of view such as third dramatic because the reader would not be able to fully understand the depth of Marty’s connection with his brother because his feelings would not be expressed in the story.

The round, static, perseverant character of Marty is revealed through the first person point of view. Because the story is told from Marty’s perspective, it reveals how desperately he wants Stephan to get better. For example, Marty says “I tell you right then I wanted to smash that tube to pieces” (5). This shows how he was ready to destroy something he worked hard for in hopes it will help to make his brother better. Throughout the story Marty continues to do things to try to make Stephan better and through the first person point of view the reader sees how often he hopes and tries to accomplish this.

By the authors use of the first person point of view, it allows the reader to be put into Marty’s shoes, therefore developing a round, static character and reveals to the reader how perseverant Marty was due to his relationship with his brother.

Work Cited

Erdrich, Louise. The Red Convertible. Print.


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