Why does Lyman fiddle with the television in Louise Erdrich's short story "The Red Convertible"?

Lyman fiddles with the television in Louis Erdrich's short story "The Red Convertible" because he wants to stop his traumatized brother Henry from watching it all day. Ever since he got back from Vietnam, Henry's done nothing but zone out in front of the TV. By deliberately messing around with the television, Lyman hopes to give him something with which to occupy his troubled mind.

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Lyman says that when Henry comes home from his three years in Vietnam, he is "very different, and ... the change was no good." Henry is always "so quiet," but he never seems to be comfortable "sitting still" and always gets up to move around. He does not laugh often anymore, and, when he does, it sounds more like choking and disturbs everyone around him.

Lyman tells us that he had bought a color television set for him and his mom to watch while Henry was away, and he notices that Henry only sits "completely still" when he sits in front of the television. He compares Henry's stillness to a "rabbit when it freezes ... before it will bold." Henry grips the armrests of his chair "with all his might," as though he would shoot off of it and crash into the television if he were to let go.

One day, Lyman sees Henry bite right through his lip as he watches the television, and Lyman approaches the set, "want[ing] to smash that tube to pieces." Henry gets physically rough with Lyman when Henry...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 913 words.)

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