A Yellow Raft in Blue Water By Michael Dorris Summary and Analysis Rayona: Chapter 8

Summary

Still at the rodeo, Rayona meets Dayton and decides to go to his house with him to see her mom. She says goodbye to Evelyn and Sky but not before she gives the cotton deer blanket to Evelyn as a symbol of her thanks.

On the ride to Dayton's house, Rayona and Dayton talk. He tells her that she has the talent to be a real rodeo rider, like her Uncle Lee. However, when they arrive home, the happy mood is broken by Rayona's mom, Christine, who accuses Rayona of abandoning her. Rayona and Christine argue horribly, and Christine goes to bed.

The next morning, Rayona again tries to ride Babe but is thrown. Christine sits with her daughter on the ground and begins telling her life story to Rayona.

Analysis

Rayona's goodbye to Sky and Evelyn, who's wearing a yellow blouse, is as much about Rayona's recognizing that a part of her life is over as it is that her entire future is before her. Evelyn acknowledges this point when she tells Sky, "We'll go now. . . . She's staying here. With her mom." Note that when Rayona gives the blanket to Evelyn, Evelyn "gathers it . . . and cradles it in a bundle against her body," very much like Ida enfolded Rayona in her arms after Christine left Rayona at Ida's. Both Evelyn and Ida are nurturing women who have rough exteriors that help deflect life's pains.

When Rayona rejects Dayton's assertion that Rayona has the same potential as her Uncle Lee concerning bronco riding, she fails to realize that she is the sum of the many parts that make up her life: Christine, Elgin, Lee, and Ida. She thinks of Lee, "Here was another relative who I'm not anything like," but we know better. Later in the Chapter, Christine accuses Rayona of being like her father, Elgin, "In every way." What Christine doesn't realize is that Rayona is also like her. Unfortunately, Christine still compartmentalizes Rayona into different categories. She fails to see that Rayona is now a mature, complex individual who has characteristics from both her mother and her father.

At the end of the Chapter, Rayona demonstrates her new maturity when she patiently listens to Christine begin her own personal story. Note that Rayona thinks of her mother's situation, "She's me staring at that yellow raft this time yesterday." At this point in the novel, Rayona seems more of an adult than her own mother. Only by narrating her own life's story will Christine mature as a mother, a wife, a daughter, and an individual.

Glossary

Stetson a trademarked hat with a high crown and wide brim.

a V with his fingers The peace sign (antiwar) during the Vietnam War was exhibited by holding the palm of the hand outward with the middle and index fingers spread to form a V.

the letter the Blessed Virgin gave to Lucy at Fatima According to Catholic tradition, on July 13, 1917, the Blessed Virgin confided a secret (which was to be written down in the form of a letter) to a girl named Lucy that would be given later to the general public. The secret was divided into three parts, and Sister Lucy, with the approval of her bishop, revealed the first two parts in 1941. The third part was to be made known, by the latest, by 1960. Christine believes that in this letter it will be revealed that either Communist Russia has been converted or the world will come to an end. Because Russia is still under the thumb of non-Catholic communism, Christine is sure that the world is coming to an end. Later in the novel, in Chapter 9, Christine describes how, on New Year's Eve, she is so convinced that the world is coming to an end that she insists on giving her mother, Aunt Ida, a home permanent before The End. And nothing happens. Christine listens to the radio, hearing New Year's celebration music in New York, then in Chicago, in Denver, and then in Los Angeles. The world doesn't end; nothing has changed. She is utterly disillusioned with Catholicism.

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