Living In a White Person's World in The Red Convertible

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Culture contact always affects one group than another because of the different economic and political situation. The dominant group colonizes, humiliates, and takes advantage of the minority group to elevate themselves. In worst cases, the superior culture enslaves other communities, as in the case of the American society in the past. African Americans, Latin Americans, and Native Americans have had similar struggles in the hands of the white man. Ironically, these vulnerable groups end up yearning to become like their oppressors. The short story 'The Red Convertible' by Louise Erdrich and the poem 'Moving Away' shows the adverse effects associated with association with the Caucasian people. The narrative in 'The Red Convertible' show two brothers seeking the American ideal through their behaviors and actions, despite the mockery of the superior culture through repelling school. While 'Moving Away' is a redemption story of escaping the white man's torture. The white person posits power over the weaker culture in both write-ups, however, the responses to power differ. The story 'The Red Convertible' and the poem 'Moving Away' explain a brother's relationship and trauma with racism in the hands of the white man. The sibling relationship is another relationship in the two texts. Erdrich and Soto narrate about their past experiences with their brothers. In both writings, the connections were stable and worth reflecting on. Erdrich recalls on the time they both had car and money, and he states, 'We had gotten a ride up to Winnipeg, and both of us had money. Don't ask me why, because we never mentioned a car or anything, we just had money' (361).

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Based on his tone, he misses the relationship he had with his brother Henry, which he cannot have now because of his condition. In a melancholic mood, he writes, 'When I left, that car was running like a watch. Now I don't even know if I can get it to start again, let alone get it anywhere near its old condition' (Erdrich 456). The car was a connection point for the brothers, and his explanation shows that they had completely lost touch. Soto's relationship with the brother had also faded as in the poem, he writes in the past tense, showing that he tries to recall his experience with their harsh and mistreating white stepfather. The narrator starts by stating, 'Remember that we are moving away (line 1, 627). In both texts, brothers bond dominates the narratives. The authors explore situations that lead to trauma through varying experiences. The Vietnam War experience transformed an easy-going, carefree, friendly person into an indifferent, traumatized, and withdrawn child. Erdrich writes, 'one day he came home, though, Henry was very different, and I'll say this; the change was no good. You could hardly expect him to change for the better; I know. But he was quiet, so quiet, and never comfortable sitting anywhere but always up and moving around.' (363). The change was drastic for Henry, and his brother and mother experienced that transformation. Here, the author exposes the effects of exposure to the war on a person's psychology because of the constant violence and brutal deaths that paints a horrific picture in a person's mind. In Erdrich's story, his brother never recovers from his stress; instead, it leads to his death. Contrarily, Soto's poem posits hope from traumatic experiences. The mentioning of an 'in the same house with a white stepfather' already offers a hint of their sons and father relationship (line 3, 627). Luckily, the brothers escaped their life situation instead of fighting it, explaining choices people must make to have a better life.

The tone of the poem is reflective, expressive of trauma, and grateful for the experiences and how it made them better. Consider the lines 'what I want to speak of is the quiet of a room just before daybreak, you next to me… sleeping' (18-19). The narrator and his brother found their way out of a traumatic experience. Although the authors explain trauma, the result of the experiences caused varied outcomes. The first them shared in the narratives is racism. Lyman and Henry are Native Americans struggling to fit into the white man's culture. Although previously, American Indians owned the American land, the slowly seized from being the dominant culture being overtaken the white and forever, to live in the shadows of the white man, striving to be like them. Erdrich explains how he had to act differently than other Native Americans to fit into the dominant cultural group. He says, 'My own talent was I could make money. I had a touch for it, unusual in a Chippewa. From the first, I was different that way, and everyone recognized it. I was the only kid they let in the American Legion Hall to shine shoes…' (361). The fact that they never let the native Americans into the hall is the first instance of racism Erdrich posits. Besides, the two brothers prefer squandering money than going to school, indicating their mockery of the white man's perspectives. Yet, they are lost in trying to become like the white people through Henry's choice to join the military that disorients him into his death. Similarly, racism in Soto's poem is vivid through the words 'white stepfather.' The narrator does not appreciate his treatment and his anger issues. He says, 'What troubled him had been forgotten '(line 4, 627). The statement shows that he did not appreciate the wrong attitude, which mostly emanated from the fact that his children were not white. The white man's mistreatment of his stepsons is racially based, indicating the domineering attitude the white people posited of themselves. Racism is a core theme in the text, and both stories consider the white man as an evil racist that only care for their interest. The common themes in the two texts are a brother-brother relationship, trauma, and racism. Erdrich and Soto base their story on the sibling bond, showing the secure connection throughout their growth.

Erdrich describes activities they did together, such as making money and squandering it. He explains the love they had for one another by expressing what he misses because of his change after the military experience. On the other hand, Soto recalls his traumatic experiences with his brother and their capacity to escape their step father’s harsh treatment. The story ends a little better, unlike in the short story where Henry passes away. The theme of trauma is experienced differently in the narratives, with one being a result of an attempt to show patriotism to the white man by joining the military and immersing himself in a culture that he had not conformed to. Soto’s story illustrates an adverse family situation that makes the two brothers feel cold and shiver in the presence of their stepfather. The defining factor in the explanation is the contribution of racism in influencing the experience of the pair brothers. Ultimately, the short story and poem broader theme is culture contact between a superior and inferior group.

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