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A Yellow Raft in Blue Water by Michael Dorris-Free Study Guide-MonkeyNotes
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CHAPTER SUMMARY WITH NOTES

CHAPTER 3

Summary

Ida and Rayona share Ida’s small, three-room house with Rayona using the room that was once her mother’s. Ida squeezes her life between TV programs, arguing with television judges and expressing annoyance with the foolishness of soap opera characters. They don’t talk, and Rayona feels that Ida considers her a duty, criticizing her mistakes and "begrudging" the space Rayona takes. Ida speaks only Indian which Rayona fortunately learned from her mother.

Father Hurlburt visits and makes arrangements to get Rayona into the mission school. Since he is too busy to provide her transportation himself he sends Father Tom Novak who will take her to the God Squad meeting on Saturday to help her get acquainted with the other teens.

Two weeks later, Rayona is in a pickup riding with Father Tom to the God Squad meeting. Father Tom talks non-stop, a "real dork" in the eyes of Rayona. The clubhouse is a basement, its walls decorated with a black and white poster of Chief Joseph mounted over the words "Indian Pride." The only other teens waiting at the meetinghouse are Annabelle Stiffarm and Kennedy Cree whom everyone calls "Foxy." Foxy explains that he is Rayona’s cousin, that his mother is Ida’s sister Pauline. He is bold and rude, announcing that Rayona’s father is the one whose "father is a nigger." Instead of making any attempt to be friends, Annabelle and Foxy get up and leave.



Rayona has no choice but to attend the last four weeks of the school year at the mission school with Father Tom as her self- appointed guardian. He makes her his favorite and his personal project. Father Tom seems obsessed with sex, and wants to know about any dreams Rayona may have had about "the wonders of the human body." He is overly curious about experiences related to puberty which he fancies Rayona must be having. Rayona tries to avoid the discussions he introduces by pretending she doesn’t know what he is talking about.

Notes

Illusions and false assumptions about cultures as well as individuals are revealed in this chapter. The idea of putting a black and white poster of an Indian in a Catholic clubhouse for Indian teens, and terming it "Indian pride" is ludicrous. There was nothing the Catholic priests or church ever offered the Indian tribes that would instill a sense of pride. Furthermore, in spite being the stereotype that Indians are supposed to be less racist than whites, Foxy does not hesitate to refer to Rayona as "half nigger." He would have heard such terms growing up in order to have used it so unselfconsciously.

Father Tom has apparently been making an effort to get close to the other teens, but has been rebuffed by most of them. Since Rayona has not been accepted by anyone, it is easy to make her is personal project. He is fascinated with sex almost to the point of pedophilia, but his position and his conscience prevent him from acting on his impulses. When he does make sexual advances to Rayona, he is quick to back away and blame her.

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