Lost Innocence and Buried EmotionsHave you ever had a special relationship with a sibling or spouse? Henry and Lyman did in the “Red Convertible” by Louise Erdrich. They grew up on an Indian reservation in Minnesota and were the first ones to own a convertible, which allowed them to leave the reservation and experience life outside of it. That summer they grew close as they traveled from Minnesota to the Little Knife River in North Dakota, eventually finding themselves on the Rocky Boy Reservation in Montana: “We went places in that car, me and Henry. We took off driving one whole summer”(Erdrich, 365). Upon returning from their travels, Henry’s draft number was called and he joined the marines and was sent to fight in Vietnam: “I don’t wonder that the army was so glad to get my brother that they turned him into a Marine” (Erdrich, 366). Like Henry, I returned from war with my innocence lost and emotions buried so deeply that I found it difficult to reconnect with the loved ones in my life.
Henry returned from the war a changed man. Somewhere in Vietnam, his innocence had been lost and his emotions buried deep under all of the death and destruction that surrounded him for nearly three years. “When he came home, though, Henry was very different, and I’ll say this: the change was no good” (Erdrich, 366). He had changed from an easygoing, good-natured fellow into someone who rarely laughed, often looking for the worst in people with a cold and calculating stare. Seeing this, Lyman realized that his relationship with Henry was forever changed.
The Gulf War had the same effect on me as Vietnam had on Henry, and like Lyman, Audrey, my wife noticed similar changes in me, affecting our relationship. For years, I was emotionally dead. Eventually, I had to deal with my emotions or I would lose my wife, for she could not live with someone that had become so emotionally disconnected from everything around him. So, I decided to take a few months off, and Audrey and I loaded up our grey ford truck and traveled throughout Texas and Mexico. With her help, I was able to learn how to feel again, unlike Henry, who felt that his only cure was to let his boots fill up with water. “‘My Boots are filling,’ he says” (Erdrich, 370).
Though we fought in different wars decades and miles apart, like so many others Henry and I lost our innocence and buried our emotions. We had to in order to deal with the effects of living in an atmosphere of uncertainty, not knowing if we will survive as we watched our friends fall often dying in agony with a look of regret and confusion on their faces. A lot of people return home from war with their innocence lost and their emotions buried so deeply, they are incapable of reconnecting with the people in their lives on an emotional level, but I am one of the lucky ones. I have a special relationship with my wife and it is what saved me from drowning. Works CitedErdrich, Louise. “The Red Convertible.” Literature and the Writing Process Seventh Edition. Eds. Elizabeth McMahan, Susan X Day and Robert Funk. Upper Saddle River: Prentice, 2005. 364-71