The red convertible symbolizes freedom. After receiving insurance money following the destruction of his restaurant in a tornado, Lyman purchases the vehicle. Lyman and Harry bond over the vehicle and all it allows them to do.
The spend a summer using the car to travel. During their travels, they learn even more about each other and deepen their relationship while learning about the new places they visit. Without this freedom, they would be bound to their reservation in North Dakota.
After the summer, Harry is sent to the war in Vietnam. Eventually he is captured and held as a prisoner of war, which is a very tangible lack of freedom. During this time, Lyman works on the car to make small repairs needed after a long summer of traveling. This juxtaposition is an interesting way to present the symbol of freedom.
When Harry returns from war, he is a changed man. He does not show interest in the car or look forward to travelling anymore, which symbolizes that once freedom is taken away,...
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