This handout begins not with a discussion of plot or characters, but with an examination of the color imagery which the Native American writer Erdrich incorporated not only in the title of this story but also on almost every page. This imagery is central to the theme of “The Red Convertible”: the divisive alienation which many Native Americans experience in contemporary American society, a subject matter that is often neglected in literature classes.
In dealing with the structure of the story, my handout also defines and discusses the central terms relating to plot: inciting moment (problem of a story); climax; and the structural elements at the end of a story (resolution, recognition, reversal, and catastrophe). The characters (protagonists and antagonists) and the point of view of “The Red Convertible” are also analyzed. My handout, which has blanks that your students can fill in, is suitable for a homework assignment or as an in-class activity. An answer key is provided on a separate page at the end of the handout.
Prepared by Professor William Tarvin, Ph.D., who has published many articles on literature in scholarly journals.