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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 13

Summary

Christine and Rayona return to Seattle after Christine rescues Lee’s purple heart from Ida’s garbage. She arrives home on a Saturday night and is unable to locate any of her friends or neighbors at home, so she takes the baby and goes out the a bar known as the Silver Bullet. There she spots Elgin with his hand on another woman’s back. Elgin tries to make excuses which Christine refuses to accept. He finally agrees to go home with her, and this time he stays almost two weeks.

Christine’s life is a merry-go-round in which she sees Elgin whenever he comes home to pay the rent or occasionally to see Rayona. Between visits from Elgin she devotes her time to Rayona, to her job and to her friends at the bars.

In the spring before Rayona turns seven, Christine receives a call from Ida saying she is coming to Seattle to visit a relative who is sick in a hospital. Ida enters Christine’s house without a smile or greeting of any kind, eats supper without comment and has no preference for a TV show. She asks about Elgin, and Christine explains that they are momentarily separated. Ida has a kewpie doll, which she has brought for Rayona. Although she won’t say anything and seems to make an effort not to show any sort of affection, Ida seems drawn to Rayona in spite of herself.



Ida criticizes Christine’s choice of clothes to wear to the hospital, but finds no fault with Rayona. Later, however, Ida is making frybread for supper and Rayona asks if she can help, calling Ida, "grandma." Ida freezes, telling her it is "Aunt Ida." Rayona is hurt and runs into the bathroom, but Christine doesn’t know quite how to retaliate.

Elgin returns home after Ida has left and stays for a few days. In the following years, the relationship is sporadic, barely enough to satisfy their needs, yet Christine never thinks of divorcing him. She explains that she never loved a man as much as Elgin and never felt strong in her own powers after he had come into her life. Yet, she never allowed herself to have another child, partly because Elgin was such a poor parent and partly because if she were to have a boy, and if he were as pretty as Lee, "Rayona would be out in the cold." So she devotes her life to Rayona, and the two of them are as much like sisters as they are mother and daughter, at least in Christine’s eyes.

Notes

Ida’s attempt to pretend she doesn’t care are getting a bit thin. One wonders if the ailing relative is really a thinly veiled attempt to see Christine and Rayona, even though Ida does spend much of the day in the hospital. Her behavior is all the more puzzling when she gives Rayona the doll and even a brief caress on the top of the head, but rejects being called "Grandma." Surely Ida must see the parallels between herself and Christine, however, when she sees that Elgin is away more than he is home and that Christine doesn’t act like she expects him to show up. While she does not say so, she must be impressed with Christine’s uncomplaining resolve to raise Rayona on her own, asking no favors, receiving no charity.

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