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Literary critic Marvin Magalaner has stated that in Louise Erdrichs Love Medicine water is the all-pervasive symbolic link with the past and with the natural environment whereas the unnatural present is epitomized by the automobile 101 But in the chapter of Love Medicine entitled The Red Convertible--a chapter often anthologized separately as a short story--just the opposite is the case The automobile is associated with a more natural state of affairs--farther in the past whereas water is associated with unnatural times much closer to the present The chapter is organized around its closing paragraph in which a red convertible is swallowed up by the Red River This closing image symbolically restates what has happened to Henry Lamartine both individually and in his relationship with his brother Lyman Throughout the chapter Erdrich associates the red convertible with Henrys state of mind The first time the convertible is mentioned it is personified Lyman the storys narrator says that when he and Henry first saw the car it looked really is if it was alive 144 But the car isnt portrayed as having merely human traits it is portrayed as having what at first are Henrys traits Lyman emphasizes the peaceful quality of the convertible by stating that when he first saw the car sitting calm and gleaming he thought of the word repose 144 Similarly Henry at first possesses a natural calm and repose Lyman fondly recalls times when he and Henry sat still for whole afternoons never moving a muscle just shifting our weight along the ground 147 But of course automobiles are normally associated with movement rather than with repose As Lyman says of the months after buying the red convertible We went places in that car me and Henry We took off driving the whole summer 144 Thus although the convertible retains its association with Henrys calm personality it also becomes associated with the carefree bond between the two brothers Not surprisingly the
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