A Yellow Raft in Blue Water

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  • Topic: Family, Michael Dorris, A Yellow Raft in Blue Water
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  • Published : January 18, 2013
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A Yellow Raft in Blue Water
Michael Dorris

Christina Penh
Mrs. DiTanna
AP English
Alternative Assessment

Answer: Discuss the three female protagonists and the men in their lives. How are their lives determined by the circumstances of their birth and subsequently by the men they “chose.”

Michael Dorris divides the novel A Yellow Raft in Blue Water into three sections narrated by three different Native American women: Rayona, Christine, and Ida. First introduced is teen-aged Rayona, whose mother Christine is dying of too much drinking and high living. Rayona was abandoned by her mother and had to fend for herself around the environment of Seattle and the Montana reservation of her birth. She is searching for a stability of affection she never quite finds. Rayona often looks down on herself based on the way people look at her. They either say she is “too big, too smart, not Black, not Indian, not friendly.” Rayona longs to be normal and fit in. With her mother Christine, it's been another story: affection came to her almost too much and nearly buried beneath it, she self-destructs in her illness finally returning to the reservation. She is very protective of her brother Lee and always concerned for his welfare. Christine does not have the skills to translate her feelings into actions and this is her main problem in relationships with others, especially with her daughter. This weakness naturally causes problems between Christine and Rayona, as Rayona begins to judge others based solely on their actions. Aunt Ida is often bitter and attempts to distance herself from others, as she fears becoming too attached to or dependent upon anyone. She tells the last part of the book and is the best at telling it. A story of how a young Indian girl Ida assumed the child born of an aunt, who'd come to nurse her sister through illness and stayed to bear her brother-in-law's child: Christine. It's only here that Dorris' narrative decision to telescope the story,...
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