With what kind of attitude do the two travel during the summer in "The Red Convertible"? (306-07) What does this tell us about their perspective on life in general?

In "The Red Convertible," the brothers travel with an attitude of freedom and openness. Their spur-of-the-moment trip to Alaska is an example of their desire for adventure and life experience.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The brothers spend a joyful summer traveling in the car. It is like a taste of true freedom, made sweeter somehow in that the boys pooled their money together to buy the car. Neither one "owns" the car; the trips they take in the car that summer belong to both...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Sign Up for 48 Hours Free Access

The brothers spend a joyful summer traveling in the car. It is like a taste of true freedom, made sweeter somehow in that the boys pooled their money together to buy the car. Neither one "owns" the car; the trips they take in the car that summer belong to both of them in the same way.

Probably the best indicator of the "attitude" the two have during their travels is the spur-of-the-moment decision to pick up the hitchhiker and drive her to her home in Alaska. One way to understand it is to place the trip in the context of the times (about 1969)—there is a countercultural aspect to the trip, and we can think of the brothers as two hippies on the road. To do so, however, would be to generalize their experience in ways that undermine the meaning of the story.

There is a kind of dreamy impermanence to the way the travel is described. As the narrator says, "some people hang on to details when they travel, but we didn't let them bother us." The connection to Susy and her family seems to be one of those details. When Henry has Susy climb on his shoulders with her loose hair ("I always wondered what it was like to have long pretty hair"), it is a moment of unexpected ecstasy but also one of loss, and it foreshadows the loss that concludes the story. There is a sense in which the trip is also something Henry "wondered what it would be like," as if experiencing it once was enough.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team