“The Red Convertible” By Louise Erdrich: Symbolism Essay Example

As the title shows, “The Red Convertible” is the main fulcrum of the story and the entire plot is built around it. It is used as a symbol of happiness with its color ‘red’ denoting passion and life. At the beginning of the story, the car belongs to both Lyman and Henry – symbolizing the happiness they shared. The money that Lyman invested in the car came at great cost. He had worked for years at Joliet Café before becoming its owner and soon after becoming a owner he had lost it to a tornado; it was the insurance money that was going into the purchase of the car. For Henry, the money that he invested in the car came relatively easy because it was just one pay check and a week’s extra pay for being laid off. This shows that Lyman became happy after a lot of hard work, whereas Henry was easily endowed with happiness. It was the sharing of the happiness or the red convertible that allowed them to have a lot of fun in the summer.

When Henry left to join the army, he leaves the car – and the happiness it symbolizes – to Lyman. When Henry returns, a man deeply traumatized by his war experiences, he hardly notices the red convertible. To get his attention, Lyman shatters down the red convertible and succeeds. Henry repairs the car. The shattered car seems to stand for the shattered happiness of Henry who now desires to build it back. One fine spring day, the two brothers decide to take a drive in the car. The shared happiness is being rediscovered in the sharing of the car. Lyman notes that Henry’s face is now more peaceful. On the riverside, Henry confesses that he knew that Lyman had willfully shattered the car and he repaired it only to return it back to him for good. The symbolism works here beautifully, unfolding the love between the two brothers. Lyman will destroy his happiness for the sake of his brother and his brother would work hard to ensure his brother’s happiness for good. When finally Henry decides to go into the river and die, Lyman, knowing he is never going to be happy without his brother, drowns the car as well. Thus from beginning to end, the symbolism of the red convertible for happiness is one that makes the short story “The Red Convertible” by Louise Erdrich, poetic in nature.

Inuit Art: The “First Goose Of The Spring” By Houmak

Introduction to eskimo art

In the words of the renowned folklorist Henry Glassie, “All art is an individual’s expression of culture. Cultures differ, so art looks different” (Rafferty 78). This is essentially true in the case of the Eskimo art which has captured the world’s imagination by virtue of its singularity of thought and expression. The Eskimos, inhabiting the region extending from eastern Siberia (Russia) on the one hand to Greenland on the other, have achieved worldwide recognition with their art forms.

Presently, the Eskimos are broadly categorized into two different groups. The Inuit are those inhabiting the regions of northern Alaska, Canada and Greenland whereas the Yupik are the indigenous people of western Alaska, South Central Alaska as well as the Russian Far East.

The artwork of these Inuit people is referred to as Inuit art. During the prehistoric and historic times, the Inuit basically led a nomadic life and their creations included figurative art as well as graphic decorations preferably in ivory.

However, during the late 1940s, the Inuit started settling in communities. The gradual transformation in their way of life also impacted their art forms which underwent rapid evolution. Thus, contemporary Inuit Art was born.

Contemporary inuit art

Much of the credit for the creation of contemporary Inuit Art goes to the Canadian James Houston. Print-making and figurative works carved in stone are associated with the contemporary period.

Houston had his degree in print-making from Japan and it was he who taught the Inuit residing in Cape Dorset the art of print-making which has been gradually incorporated into the Inuit Art.

These Inuit Art prints became an instant success and printmaking, as a business, expanded thus providing them with a new economic base. Furthermore, the intervention of the Canadian Handicrafts Guild (CHG) also helped them get the much required platform (Fiero, p. 131).

“First Goose of the Spring”

The “First Goose of the Spring” by Houmak is an exemplary piece of Inuit Art prints. It was created in 1981. It is more or less a symmetrical composition with the two wings of the bird emanating from a vertical central line. However, it would be more appropriate to consider it as an example of approximate symmetry since the two wings are not mirror images of each other. This symmetry has helped in maintaining the balance of the composition (Barnet, pp. 41-50).

The main idea of the composition is presented with a subjective approach. The depiction of the bird is not wholly realistic; it represents the artists’ personal interpretation of the subject.

Compositions often combine two or more structural devices instead of relying on a particular one” (Fiero, p. 123). This particular composition is an apt example of the combination of structural devices. Here, the structure is that of two opposing triangles. The center where the two triangles meet forms the focal point of the composition and draws the viewers’ attention to it. This combination of structures also renders the composition interesting and dynamic (Fiero, p. 123).

An interesting feature of this composition is its use of lines. Repetition of lines creates a beautiful pattern in this image as well as conveys a sense of rhythm. The curved lines create a sense of flow within the image whereas the angular lines suggest dynamism. Moreover, curved lines are also soothing to the eyes and aesthetically more pleasing.

The composition of a picture should be such that the viewers are easily able to identify the object that comprises the center of interest. In this particular composition, the goose remains the focal point as it symbolizes the vitality, the vivaciousness associated with the approach of the spring season.

The composition of a picture also determines its movement, i.e. how the viewers’ eye moves towards the object of interest. Here, the movement is attained with the help of lines and shapes. They help in creating a rhythm in the movement.

Often, the point of emphasis is accentuated by the use of colors. This particular composition is also a case in this point. The colors used here are black, brown, grey and green. The green color at the center distinguishes it from the other parts of the image and forms the center of interest.

Along with the color, the tone of the composition also assumes greater significance. Here, the colors have been toned down in order to create a gentle effect. The use of grey helps in the formation of a particular mood.

The materials used in this composition are stone-cut and stencil with the print made on mulberry paper. This technique is indigenous to the Inuit Art prints of Cape Dorset. Since every step in this process is done manually, it renders an element of multi-originality to the composition.

As stone-cut is used as the medium here, the composition has a smooth texture. This is precisely because the stone usually used is carving-stone which is polished before incision is made. Moreover, stencil printing has rendered a lyrical quality to the composition. Additionally, different levels of color intensity have been achieved with the aid of stencils.

As in other forms of visual art, the rule of space is also applicable in this context. The white space left out on either side of the green color at the center creates an illusion of movement and also directs the viewers’ attention to the focal point.

A closer look at the image draws our attention to another interesting aspect of the composition. This is the presence of both geometric shapes like triangle, circle, and semi-circle as well as natural shapes in the same frame. This is intentionally done to create a contrast or variety.

Contrast or variety makes an art form more interesting. Here, the contrast is brought about not only by the skillful use of different shapes but also by the judicious use of color as well as line patterns.

The design of the composition is such that it creates a unified aesthetic effect. Every element in the picture frame forms an integral part of the composition and contributes to the overall unity.


Apparently, the composition is about a young goose. However, it has a deeper purpose or meaning. In this context, the Inuit Art does not serve a superficial purpose. Its primary aim is to convey a message. Here, the goose represents the first stirrings of the spring season, not its rich exuberance.

Inuit Art has had several functions in the prehistoric and historic times. However, contemporary Inuit Art has ceased to fulfill these functions. Presently, art is created in order to satisfy the needs of the outside world. It has become a source of sustenance for the Inuit. This particular composition also belongs to the contemporary period of Inuit Art and its primary function, thus, is to provide a source of sustenance to the struggling community of artists (Fiero, p. 116).

An insight into contemporary Inuit Art has helped me in my understanding of this particular composition. It is an interesting piece of art and appears to me to be representative of the life of the Inuit. In spite of the fact that the contemporary Inuit artists are creating art not for the sake of it but for economic reasons, it is deeply rooted in the past. Although the Inuit artists are conforming to the demands of the outside world in order to expand their business, their art is very much inspired by their way of life. However, the challenge lies in the fact that for an outsider, the Inuit Art may be difficult to comprehend without some information on their way of life.

The Inuit artists belong to a culture where keen observation of wildlife forms an inextricable part of their existence. Naturally, wildlife gains prominence in their art forms. Most of their compositions display elegant birds, majestic bears, seals and walruses. These animals are often their preferred themes or subject matter. This has been the case not only with the Inuit artists of the past but also with the contemporary ones. This is precisely why Houmak has created this particular piece. With the bird as the central theme, he has sprinkled a flavor of the spring season to it.

This composition is indigenous to the Cape Dorset printmaking initiated by James Houston. The process involves a lot of hard work and significant contribution not only by the artist but also the printer. The first step involves transferring the image to the stone. The next step involves incising the stone to create the required design. Ink is then applied to the finished stone which is then followed by print-making. After the print has dried, ink is applied to it with a stencil overlay. The stencil is finally removed to get the finished product.

A contextual analysis of this composition is not possible without comparing it with other works of art. Its similarity with other works of art lies in the fact that it incorporates the same elements of composition and visual design that form the basis of other works of art.

On the other hand, it is different in various aspects. The primary difference lies in its selection of the subject matter which is a representation of an altogether different culture. Secondly, the choice of the medium also distinguishes it from other works of art. Not only that, its function as a contemporary Inuit Art also differentiates from the other works of art.


A comparative analysis of the above composition however, reinforces the fact that whatever be the similarities or differences between different works of art, the basic function of any form of art remains the same- to provide aesthetic pleasure. Its functions may vary according to the demands of the situation but its inherent objective is “the meaningful objectification of whatever is metaphysically important to man.”(Torres and Kamhi 165) To conclude, art appeals to the human senses and satisfies an important psychological need of man.

Works Cited

Barnet, Sylvan. A Short Guide to Writing about Art. NY: Prentice Hall PTR, 2010.

Fiero, Gloria K. The Humanistic Tradition, Volume 2: The Early Modern World to the Present. NY: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2005.

Rafferty, Peter. Discourse on Difference. Visual Anthropology Review 7.2 (2005): 77-84.

Torres, Louis and Michelle Marder Kamhi. What Art Is: The Esthetic Theory of Ayn Rand. Auckland: IPCL Press, 2006.

Racism In Campus Of The Montclair State University Effect


The paper analyzes the effect of racism on campus according to how I did the interview. Ethnic in Montclair State University (MSU) is real according to the findings I got from the interview I conducted. I found out that both my interviewee felt that their high school education did prepare them for college education; they were also from a middle-class background but diverse ethnic set up. One is Caucasian white and the other is from an African American origin both the interviewee differs on the number of the minority in the faculty. From these two students, we can critically evaluate our understanding of self on the topic of race and ethnicity in MSU.

Effect of racism on the selection of friends on the campus

From the interview, I have conducted the student are very likely to form friends only if their high school background had diversity. If the student high school background had race issues the student will have trouble associating with another student because this faculty is most diversified, the only main concern if the student has a Caucasian background for they are the majority in this faculty this could have some implications on racism if the student come from the discussed background. This would help spread racism if not early detected (Blank, 2001). Though the faculty pride it’s self with racial and ethnic control by certain programs and including diverse social groups for students so as not to isolate certain members of a certain community. The high school background and economic-social class also do play major roles in how students will make friends though this is not a very big issue as making friends are rampant but socializing would now be the determining factor if the friendship was genuine or bias to fool the faculty or friends. In my view of things, the faculty should access the high school background for the entire student who enrolls in this faculty; this will help to monitor those with racist attributes based on their high school background of segregation or racism.

Influence of racism on how students make friends

Diversity plays a major role in friend selection as one feels comfortable in a circle that seems to understand one’s lifestyle. These ethnic cycles are the refuge for those who are shy in socializing with other diverse races. Interest from different diverse background plays major roles in this too, different clothing tastes, socialization cycles, different music tastes, and also interracial relationships although not a major issue in the social class this plays a major role and its one of those issues that need attention, for this affect how student network even in this social groups set up by the faculty. Making it mandatory for the entire students in the faculty to join other social ventures outside their social circles would reduce these.

Role of diversity in promotion of racism in the university

High school diversity plays as the recreation of the way the student will relate in college, if the background of a student had segregation in socializing at high school level they are sure bound to carry it through to college. However, if they change then they tend not to focus on or ignore diversity matters ignorantly but sometimes knowingly though not paying any attention. Like the case of the white interviewee, he claims to observe that the faculty has a minority in ample staff and faculty, and then when asked if diversity affects MSU he claims “No” this is because from his interview we see that his high school had diversity issues as he observes that most social groups were segregated (Gallagher, 2006). We see that the other black American interviewee observes that his high school did not have any segregation in socializing or groups and you will observe he is very positive on matters concerning diversity. The school should categorize such characters and know how to enlighten them about the importance of diversity and why it’s essential in the faculty to minimize ignorance. This will help in pinpointing where the problems may arise.

Significance of racial or ethnic-based on student groups on campus

These will help to reduce segregation in the faculty and increases inter-race and ethnic relationships and bonding. This is very good for those who are shy, they meet students can express their prowess in activities marked by theses, social groups. These also help to tame those who have racism and help them not to exploit their vices of racism as these groups are monitored by faculty staff or students member who reports to the faculty staff.

Perception of students if the campus is diverse

The student does perceive the student to be diverse on their part as the faculty has devised an appropriate way for alienating ethnicity close groups that encourage diversity and this mostly leads to scandals, as this group targets the minorities groups which tend to excel in school. The student though feels that the faculty has not addressed the diversity issues in the staff deployment, as they claim that there is a minority in ample staff and faculty staff (Jongman & Schmid, 2009). They however all agree that decide that which only affects them by discrimination by some of their professors, the faculty is very diverse and all ethnic and races issues are not condoned by the board of the faculty.

Racism in campus

There is no racism in this faculty in all respect on the faculty and the student part, the complaint from the students of the professors are a mere fabrication of the dislike for a certain class or how certain professor lectures their lessons, based on the grading that the students get they tend to discriminate the professors themselves.

Effects of Racism on students at Montclair State University

Racism does not affect the student of these faculty because there are no cases reported about such issues as the faculty is very strict on such matters and because all pursuant of this level of education is past the prosecution level it’s a crime for the pursuant of this kind of oppression so there no such cases here. Though if this was the case the student would have a very unpleasant time in the faculty, this would lower their grades.

How the students who are enrolled at university have been trained to mitigate the spread of racism in the university

Depending on the student’s motivation to go to a good college then high school is the recreation center for the student to nature their young mind. High schools shape the mind of young minds and are deemed as the stepping stone for those who are under higher learning. They develop an interest in the kind of studies detailed by the career objectives they want to pursue and parental guidance is very helpful here but not use of force but support to the youth in deciding which subject to heed to achieve the kind of career they want to pursue later in life.

Racism effect on preparation for college

Racism affects the grade of students who are under good grades for a good place in a good college. The bad grades will alienate the student who wanted to join college and this will only help in frustrating them and result in very active mind becoming idle resulting in crimes or substance abuse de to frustration. This kind of rough neighborhood deters a student to go through to college by indulging the youth into indecent groups which are basically due to peer pressure or just poverty limiting them good grades and deterring them a place in a good college or lack of scholarship as many dully depends on scholarship due to financial difficulties (News Batch, 2009).


Depending on the student’s high school and neighborhood segregation, the level of diverse thinking and acknowledgment is seriously determined by these factors. The student whose high school years is marred with ethnicity is not going to recover from these attribute and will practice segregation in the new environment, and if they won’t practice these ugly practices then they bound not to care if there is a student with such pleas in ignorance. Neighborhood segregation also does play a major role in racial and ethnic segregation by excluding certain societies to dwell and socialize among them only.

This brings about myth and misconception of the other community and background enormity and feud arises this create a barrier between two society if these are not addressed and remedy issued the pursuant of these bad vices sometimes becomes violent against the minority community. The social activities by the faculties are just good ways to combat these very old and immoral behaviors attributed to colonialism and lack of respect for life. Based on my opinion on the account from the research that I have concluded that it is evident that the campus is heavily influenced by racism. This is an issue that needs to be addressed by the faculty need to address the issues by promoting diversity of the students and encourage the involvement of people of different races.


Blank, M. (2001). An Overview of Trends in Social and Economic Well-Being. Washington, D.C: National Academy Press.

Gallagher, C. (2006). Rethinking the Color Line 3rd Ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill

Jongman, J & Schmid, A. (2009). Race & Ethnicity. Web.

News Batch. (2009). Education Policy Issues: What are the current controversies regarding federal education policy? Web.