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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 10

Summary

Christine becomes obsessed with getting Lee and Dayton to enlist in the army which would mean fighting in Vietnam. Dayton is able to legally avoid the draft because he is a "sole surviving son." Lee insists that he is not going to enlist either because he is "an enrolled member of this Indian nation" and his "tribe has not declared war." Christine is concerned reactions her military boyfriends would have if Lee really does "dodge." Christine and Lee quarrel over the issue and she calls him a "yellow kid who's afraid to defend his country."

Lee and Dayton avoid Christine for awhile. When Ida hears of it, she tells Christine to "go become one of those women soldiers" if she is so bent on fighting. Christine considers it, remembering her friend Susie who signed up. However, when she sees that Susie has not become "Miss Indian American," Christine decides she can have all the soldiers she wants without becoming one herself.

Lee, however, is different in Christine's eyes. She fantasizes over his image in uniform, over going to visit him where he is stationed and imagines her pride in being associated with him. She sees him as a tribal leader in the future with the words "Lee George, Veteran" under his name. In her mind, the only way Lee will every gain respect on the reservation is if he "serves he country." Eventually, she finds a way to convince Dayton that joining up is the proper thing to do and he begins working on Lee.



The day comes when Lee gives in, cuts his hair, and joins the army. From then on, he and Dayton drift gradually apart and Lee hangs out with a different crowd. Christine also believes her own life has improved and more invitations for dates occupy her time. She dates as many servicemen as she can, making a point of telling them that her brother is in the army, going to "Nam", and describing him as rough and brave.

During one of her visits to Minot, Christine hears of an employment program in Seattle that will provide her with a job and an apartment. As luck would have it, she leaves the reservation before Lee does, and Ida has Lee to herself for his last few days at home.

In Seattle, Christine goes from one job and one apartment to another, looking for the "perfect combination." She receives a letter and a postcard from Lee-late because she moved so often herself. One morning she receives a letter from Dayton saying that Lee has been listed as MIA. Christine goes to a bar to avoid thinking and is greeted by Elgin Taylor, a black Corporal who will be released in two weeks. She tells him about Lee, and he knows exactly the right words to say to give her hope and comfort. Christine spends the night with Elgin and finds him unlike any man she has ever been with. For the first time in her life she asks a man not to leave her.

Notes

Christine falls in love with Elgin for the wrong reasons. She is still looking for a hero-but a hero who is already established and is therefore in no danger. She doesn't want Elgin to replace Lee, but she does expect him to have some sort of magic words that will make Lee okay. Temporarily, Elgin is able to do that, but we know it won't last.

Elgin is far too willing to spend the night with Christine and take up a relationship with her. One feels like he is very shallow and has played this game before. Nevertheless, there is a genuine attraction; he stays with Christine longer than expected although she demands nothing from him. He is a fabulous lover, awakening in Christine a sense of need and longing for love that she had buried on the reservation. He also enables her to temporarily forget her worry over her brother.

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