Describe Henry's mental state in "The Red Convertible." Why does he dance?

Henry dances because it is part of his cultural heritage, and it reminds him of where he came from and what he used to be like prior to the war.

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Prior to doing a crazy dance that Lyman has never seen before, Henry's mental state is as up and down as a great roller coaster. Henry and Lyman have taken the car out together, and Lyman is deeply wishing for Henry to finally snap out of his post-war mental state....

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Prior to doing a crazy dance that Lyman has never seen before, Henry's mental state is as up and down as a great roller coaster. Henry and Lyman have taken the car out together, and Lyman is deeply wishing for Henry to finally snap out of his post-war mental state. Lyman has been very patient up to this point, but he finally snaps. He grabs Henry, violently shakes him, and screams, "Wake up" over and over again at Henry. Henry's response is an important response.

"I know it," he says. "I know it. I can't help it. It's no use."

Henry knows that he is different. He knows that the war has changed him. He knows that his actions and attitude are affecting people around him, and he knows that he can't simply snap himself out of it. He makes the decision to give Lyman the car, and Lyman refuses and flatly states, "Make me." They have a physical fight at this point complete with punches being thrown to "solve" the argument. After the fight, there is a rare moment where we can feel that Henry is his old self. Lyman knows it too, and that's why he tells readers that he could tell when Henry's mood was swinging back the other way.

It's at this point that Henry begins to dance. Readers aren't given a reason why Henry dances, so it is up to individual readers to provide a possible reason. It might relate to Henry's cultural heritage. As a Native American, dancing is an important part of his culture. He had to go fight in a white man's war, and that changed him. His dancing might be his attempt to throw off that war burden and return to his cultural roots. It might his attempt to force himself to feel like his old self too. It also might be his way of leaving Lyman with a happy memory of him.

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