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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 14

Summary

Christine’s story and the beginning of Rayona’s come together in this chapter. Christine is in the hospital-chapter one replayed but from Christine’s perspective. Christine has just been told that she has about 6 months to live; the implication is cancer of the liver or pancreas or perhaps liver failure as a result of too many years of hard living and drinking. She tries to be tough, berating the doctor for giving her the news. When Rayona arrives at the hospital, Christine can’t find a way to tell her the news so they play cards with Christine trying to act cheerful. Elgin finally arrives, and due to the bickering, she can’t tell him either.

Christine tries to lure Elgin home, but he says it won’t work this time. He tosses the keys to Rayona and leaves. Sometime after Rayona has left, Christine realizes she doesn’t want to be in the hospital, that it isn’t going to accomplish anything for her to lie there. She leaves the hospital in a Candy Stripers uniform; all she has of value is her car and a State Farm insurance policy. Her plan is to drive the car over the cliff at Tacoma, the place where she originally met Elgin, and leave her insurance money to Rayona.



Rayona, however, catches Christine trying to break into her own car. Christine takes the keys from Rayona and tries to get her to say goodbye, but Ray gets into the car with her. At the entrance to Point Defiance Park, Christine stops the car and tries to push Rayona out, but Rayona won’t leave. When she does get free of her, Christine tries to take off in the car and discovers it is out of gas. They joke about the car and about Christine being a lousy mother as they walk back to a gas station. Christine decides she has no choice other than to take Rayona to Aunt Ida.

Before leaving Seattle, Christine insists on getting a life time membership to a video store. She selects two videos, the movie "Christine" from the Steven King novel and "Little Big Man" because she had dated one of the actors a couple of times. Rayona doesn’t understand the delay, especially as neither Christine nor Ida has a video player, but Christine wants Ray to have something to remember her by.

The drive to Montana is uneventful, but the car dies just shy of the destination. They walk the remaining distance carrying garbage bags full of their belongings. Ida greets her with the remark "Give me three reasons I should be glad to see you." Christine comes up with two reasons but feels as though Ida is just waiting for a chance to belittle her, waiting for Christine to say she was wrong to leave and to make a fool of herself in front of Rayona. Deciding nothing is worth Rayona seeing her laid low, she tells Ida to "f* yourself" and runs as fast as she can back to the highway.

Notes

Ida’s frosty shell and Christine’s rejection of anticipated humiliation work together to maintain the wall between them. Ida seems cold and brutal, while Christine appears equally heartless and self-centered. Regardless of appearances, Christine knows that she is dying herself and that Ida will not turn Rayona away no matter how disgruntled she seems on the surface. Ida’s behavior can be explained by the fact that she is hurting, angry and has been alone for a long time except for visits form Father Hurlburt. Furthermore, since Ida struggled for so long to keep both Christine and Lee close to her and ended up losing them both, it is little wonder that she is less than welcoming to Christine and Rayona. Her reaction is one of both hurt and fear, nor is it unfounded since Rayona too runs away from her.

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