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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 12

Summary

Fourteen months after Lee’s death, the government releases his body, allowing the family to have his funeral. Christine drives almost without stopping from Seattle to Montana, arriving at Ida’s house shortly before the crowd begins to show up for Lee’s wake.

Christine holds Rayona for hours, finally asking Ida if she has a place for her "granddaughter" to sleep. Ida ignores her at first, until Christine demands an answer, addressing her as "mother." Ida asks her why she bothered to come. Christine knows that Ida wants to blame her for Lee’s death in the same way that everyone else blames her, but Ida also knows that if she says the words, she will lose forever the only "child she has left, the only grandchild she will ever have." In a moment of silent, stubborn staring, Christine realizes that looking at Ida is like looking into a mirror. They stare at each other "over time, over Lee," then Ida surrenders and takes the baby.



There are two funeral ceremonies, one by the Catholic priest and the other according to Indian culture. Christine finds Dayton at the Christian funeral. He tries to offer her comfort at the cemetery and seems interested in renewing a friendship. They talk but she refuses his condolences or friendship; instead she tells him about her "husband who would die" for her, her home in Seattle and her "great" job.

Ida, Dayton, Willard Pretty boy and others of the community attend the Indian funeral ceremony. Willard dances with Aunt Ida who ignores Christine. Dayton attempts to dance with Christine but she avoids him and he picks up Rayona instead and dances in circles with her in his arms.

Notes

The close of this chapter is a subtle foreshadowing of the renewal of Christine’s friendship with Dayton. It also reveals the similarities in personality between Ida and Christine. Christine wins the visual standoff because she truly believes Ida doesn’t care much about her. Ida, who is suffering her own grief over the loss of Lee, is powerless to do or say something that would cost her any future contact with Rayona, or even Christine.

Christine is convinced that everyone at the funeral blames her for Lee’s death including Dayton; perhaps they do, but Christine also blames herself. She expects harsh recriminations from Dayton, but he is the one who helps her to let Lee go and makes a gesture of renewed friendship. Christine refuses his offer because she doesn’t want to go to anyone just because she "needs" to. She also doesn’t want anyone to be able to say, I told you so.

Willard’s dance with Ida at the funeral powwow is significant because of a relationship that will become apparent later in the novel. Willard is Lee’s father and the one person Ida really had a crush on as a teenager. One suspects that Willard never knows that Lee was his.

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