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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 III - Ida

CHAPTER 17

Summary

Ida begins her story her Aunt Clara’s entrance to her childhood home. Clara is tiny, pretty, and Ida immediately loves her although Clara at first resists everything Ida tries to do for her. Eventually, however, Clara allows Ida to share a special place and Ida tells her own secrets, particularly her attraction for Willard Pretty Boy. Ida becomes so taken with Clara that she begins to mimic Clara’s speech and clothes and worries that her mother may get well enough for Clara to leave.

Close to Christmas, however, Clara reveals to Ida that she has slept with Ida’s father Lecon and that she is pregnant. She assumes Lecon and Annie will make her leave. Ida’s father comes up with a solution to save the family name and protect Clara at the same time. Since Ida has long had her heart set on Willard Pretty Boy, they will send both Clara and Ida away to a convent where Clara can have the baby in secret. When they return, Ida will say it is her baby and all will assume that Willard is the father. Clara will stay around and take care of the baby in the home, but outside the home it will be Ida’s baby. Ida agrees to the scheme and the two leave for a convent in Denver, Colorado.



Notes

Ida announces at the beginning that the whole story is really her own, her "savings" to leave Rayona or not. She feels that her primary problem was that she didn’t say no; she should have said no to her father, to Clara, to Willard and finally to Lee "to save his life." She says she treated Christine differently, but "it turned out no better." Christine is the one person she did say no to, no to being called mother, no to an intimate relationship although she watched her closely and shared many moments in time with her. The lack of a good mother/daughter relationship began with Ida and her own mother. Annie, Ida’s mother had been sick for some time. Ida had offered to quit school, but neither of her parents liked that idea.

Ida’s logic for quitting school demonstrates a characteristic seen in Christine when she quits on religion and again in Rayona when she runs away from the mission school. Ida says she was "an uncooperative girl who wouldn’t obey the rules, who tormented her teachers by pretending to be stupid." She simply wouldn’t tolerate what she considered artificial restraints; Christine and Rayona are so much like her that she might as well have been the blood mother/grandmother.

Ida obviously did not have a lot of attention growing up which may account for her need to idolize Clara. She also needs to feel like she has something Pauline does not have, that she is first at something. Her offer to take the blame-or credit-for the baby is at least partly because she will have something of Clara that she assumes will always be hers. She does not truly realize the degree to which having an unwed child will change her life. At this point Ida is making a sacrifice for love and attention, but the pattern of self sacrifice will later be one motivated by love as well as a determination to remain unbeaten by the forces of the community and life itself.

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