How does the setting impact the audience in "The Red Convertible"?

The setting of "The Red Convertible" is the late 1960s–early 1970s in the upper Midwest, American West, and areaalong the Canadian border. The primary action takes place on and near a Chippewa (Ojibwe) reservation in the upper Midwest. The action precedes and succeeds the Vietnam War, which has a traumatic impact on Henry Lamartine and contributes to his suicide. The setting thus allows readers to sympathize or empathize with the Lamartine brothers.

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In terms of geographic setting of "The Red Convertible ," reservation life for Native Americans, in this case a pair of Chippewa (Ojibwe) brothers, is difficult. Their reservation life is plagued with poverty and substance abuse. The late 1960s, before Henry enters the Vietnam War, are a time of...

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In terms of geographic setting of "The Red Convertible," reservation life for Native Americans, in this case a pair of Chippewa (Ojibwe) brothers, is difficult. Their reservation life is plagued with poverty and substance abuse. The late 1960s, before Henry enters the Vietnam War, are a time of freedom for the Lamartine brothers, and readers are briefly heartened by their adventure in the red convertible as they cross the Great Plains and travel to Alaska, free, together, and in harmony with the natural world and other Native Americans.

After Henry is negatively and irrevocably changed by his military service in the war, the Lamartine brothers' lives shrink to the confines of the reservation, and they are again plunged into the cycle of despair. In the early seventies, returning Vietnam veterans were often vilified, which makes Henry's situation all the more tragic. It was not his choice to be a soldier in what turned out to be, as many believe, a senseless war.

To return to a country that did not necessarily value Henry's sacrifice and resume living on a reservation that exemplifies the centuries-long mistreatment of Native Americans builds sympathy for both Henry and Lyman. Henry's eventual suicide seems inevitable, because of the lack of knowledge of how to recognize and treat post-traumatic stress disorder in the 1970s, and it deepens the tragedy of the many wrongs inflicted on men like Henry Lamartine.

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