- Lyman Lamartine was the first person on his reservation
to do what?
- What unusual talent (for a Chippewa) does Lyman have?
- What disaster strikes the Joliet Café?
- What verb does Lyman use to describe the way the Oldsmobile
sits in the yard when he first sees it?
- What is the symbolism of the name "Blood Reserve" to
refer to the Indians' reservation?
- When Lyman and his brother pick up the hitchhiking
girl, they offer her a ride home. Where does her home
turn out to be?
- What branch of the armed forces recruits Henry for
the Vietnam war?
- When Lyman teases Henry about his nose, he compares
that nose to Red Tomahawk. Explain the historical allusion
here, and how it connects with Sitting Bull. (Consult
an encyclopedia if you need to.)
- How does Henry's behavior change after returning to
the reservation after the war?
- What is the "clicking" sound Lyman hears as Henry is
- What does Lyman do to the red convertible to get Henry's
- After the car is repaired, what do the two brothers
get into a fight about?
- What happens to the red convertible at the end of the
Passages for Identification: Be
able to identify the author, the work, the character speaking
(if any) and briefly explain the significance or context
of the passage.
A: "My own talent was I could always
make money. I had a touch for it, unusual in a Chippewa."
B: There it was, parked large as life. Really as if it
was alive. I thought of the word repose, because the car
simply stopped, parked, or whatever. That car reposed,
calm and gleaming, a FOR SALE sign in its left front window.
Then, before we had thought it over at all, the car belonged
to us and our pockets were empty. We had just enough money
for gas back home.
C. "Hop on in,"
says Henry. So she climbs in between us.
"We'll take you home," I says. "Where do you live?"
"Chicken" she says.
"Where the hell's that?" I ask her?
"Okay," says Henry, and we drive.
D: We liked to tease him that they really
wanted him for his Indian nose. He had a nose big and sharp
as a hatchet, like the nose on Red Tomahawk, the Indian
who killed Sitting Bull, whose profile is on signs
all along the North Dakota highways.
E: Once I was sitting in the room watching
TV with Henry and I heard his teeth click at something.
I looked over, and he'd bitten through his lip. Blood was
running down his chin. I tell you right then I wanted to
smash that tube to pieces. I went over to it but Henry
must have known what I was up to.
F. "That car's a classic! But you
went and ran the piss right out of it, Lyman, and you know
it don't deserve
that. I kept that car in A-one shape. You don't remember.
You're too young. But 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."
G. "I walk back to the car, turn
on the high beams, and drive it up the bank. I put it in
first gear and then
I take my foot off the clutch. I get out, close the door,
and watch it plow softly into the water. The headlights
reach in as they go down, searching, still lighted even
after the water swirls over the back end. I wait. The wires
short out. It is all finally dark. And then there is only
water, the sound of it going and running and going and
running and running."
Food for Thought:
What do fast, shiny cars symbolize or represent in the
minds of most Americans? Does that meaning change when
the car is owned by reservation Indians? How? In what way?
Why does Lyman let the car roll into the river after spending
so much time with his brother trying to fix it up?
does the water of the river symbolize as it runs over the
carcass? Why does Erdrich say it is "going and running
and going and running and running"? Why does the author
use asyndeton here?