The Red Convertible

by Louise Erdrich

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Student Question

How does Lyman describe the summer trip in "The Red Convertible"?

Quick answer:

Lyman describes the summer trip in "The Red Convertible" as a whirlwind adventure in which he and his brother lived in the moment.

Expert Answers

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Lyman and his brother go on a summer trip soon after buying the red convertible. The trip itself was an exercise in carpe diem. Lyman and Henry do not have a plan for where they are going, nor do they have a plan for how long they will be in each place. The trip is a whirlwind adventure in which Lyman and his brother simply move and go to the next place on nothing more than a whim. Lyman tells us that they "somehow" ended up in Wakpala only to be "suddenly" in Montana. Readers get no details on what the two boys did in those places, and Lyman even explains that remembering those kinds of travel details was not something he and his brother bothered with doing. They lived in the moment day to day.

One of the best examples of how the road trip was the embodiment of the carpe diem spirit was when Henry and Lyman met Susy in Montana. They pulled the car up next to Susy and told her to hop in. She does, and they offer to take her home. Susy tells them that home is in Alaska, and Henry doesn't hesitate. He starts driving to Alaska from Montana, and they get Susy home. That's quite the drive home. Straight line distance from northwest Montana to an extreme southern Alaska location is over 700 miles. Then, once there, Henry and Lyman live in a tent by Susy's house because they fell in love with Alaska itself and didn't have a desire to go anywhere else at the time.

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