This story is about two brothers who bought a red convertible and who took off driving for an whole summer. They finally came back home for the older brother, Henry, had signed up to join the army. He came back from it totally change (for the worst). The younger brother, Lyman, did everything he could to bring back the old Henry, but he couldn't and Henry finally committed suicide at the end of the story. In "The Red Convertible" Erdrich suggests that even when one puts all the effort he can to rescue another, it may still turn out to be worthless.
In this story, Erdrich uses the character of Henry to show that some people cannot be rescued. As stated before, Henry is the older brother of Lyman. Both are native Americans, living on a reservation. At the beginning of the story, Henry seems happy and is funny, but then, he goes to war. When he comes back from it, he is completely change. He does not laugh anymore and is very lonesome. Lyman even reports that " He'd (Henry) always had a joke, then, too, and now you couldn't get him to laugh, or when he did it was more the sound of a man choking, a sound that stopped up the throats of other people around him. They got to leaving him alone most of the time, and I didn't blame them. It was a fact: Henry was jumpy and mean."(p516). However, not only Henry's friends realize that he is change and might needs help, but also Henry's family. In one scene, they talk about bringing him to the hospital. Finally, they decide not to do it because they are afraid that then, they might want to keep him (p517). At this point, Lyman tries to "rescue" his brother. First, he wants to get rid of the television because, when Henry sits to watch it, he grips the armrests of his chair and once, he even bits through his lip (p516). The spectacle is really not funny to watch at. Still, Lyman does not get rid of the television, but he manages for the picture to become fuzzy.