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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

SECTION II - Christine

CHAPTER 9

Summary

Christine begins her story with her disappointment in religion. The story moves into past tense as she explains that she became the most popular girl on the reservation and never missed a party. Among other things, the kids on the reservation were taught respect and admiration for the American flag and especially for American soldiers.

The most important person in Christine’s teenage life is her brother Lee, the "best looking thing on the reservation" who often made her wonder if they had the same father, as she was so different. Aunt Ida never told them other than to say she had been a fool twice. She made them call her Aunt Ida because she had never been married.

Christine and Lee are nearly always together with Christine doing one dare devil stunt after another until the day when tables are turned and Lee saves her life. Christine has taken a dare to cross a natural stone bridge about 20 feet above a creek bed. Once out on the bridge, it seems much thinner and narrower than it had from the ground, and Christine finds herself unable to move. Lee sees her predicament and climbs the cliff to the other side of the bridge from where he talks to her, easing her fear and giving her the courage to make it across.



When Christine is a sophomore, Dayton Nickles moves to the reservation. He immediately draws close to Lee and the two become fast friends. At one point, Christine catches Dayton watching her and decides that Lee is simply Dayton’s method of getting close to her. She makes herself available, openly flirting with him and getting between him and Lee at every opportunity. Her big chance comes at one of the powwows. She finds Dayton alone and suggests that they go to "look for Lee." Instead she leads him into a large empty field and offers to have sex with him, but Dayton refuses her, saying that he only thinks of her as a big sister.

Dayton and Christine become increasingly distant from each other for the rest of their school lives. He remains as close as every to Lee who is also obviously Ida’s favorite. She buys him the best clothes and at one of the powwows even dances with him to everyone’s amazement.

As Christine gets out of high school and into her 20's she hangs out at more bars, dates every boy who asks. At one point Ida accuses her of becoming a "slut." The break between Christine and Ida comes after Diamond Johnson, a married man estranged from his wife, takes Christine to Minot where she spends two weeks in a whirlwind of dating, drinking and dancing. When she returns home, she and Ida exchange cross words. Although Ida doesn’t actually tell her to, Christine leaves and moves in with Ida’s sister Pauline. Christine protects herself, taking for her motto, "you’re only young once," and determining to make it "count double."

Meanwhile, Ida becomes more devoted to Lee, hanging pictures of him on every wall and encouraging him as he and Dayton become increasingly involved with their heritage. During one visit home, Christine realizes that she is losing touch with Lee, and that all along, when she thought she was battling for Dayton, it was really her and Ida battling for Lee who couldn’t be both Christine’s brother and Ida’s child.

Notes

Contrary to what might be expected from Rayona’s reactions and impressions, Ida and Christine didn’t fight or argue constantly. Rather Christine perceived her aunt’s coldness and believed that it was at least partly because Lee was so perfect and was therefore more wanted. But Christine herself admires perfection and strives to make her idea of perfection also heroic. Her mistake is that Lee is not as strong or as noble as she thinks he is. He needs someone pushing and encouraging him in order to achieve. He is not self- motivated which Christine definitely is.

Christine also lacks a sense of modern morals. Once she has abandoned the church, she sees nothing wrong with becoming a virtual playgirl, sleeping with any man she wants, whenever she wants. She takes precautions to avoid getting pregnant and looks with pity on girls her age who have already locked themselves in to marriages and children. She is at this point manipulative and rather selfish; the things that she wants take precedence over everything else, including common sense.

Ida knows what Christine is doing and watches from a distance, observing but seldom interfering. It’s as if she wants Christine to do something that will give her a good excuse not to love her.

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