Study Help Essay Questions


1. Write an essay in which you discuss the significance of the novel's title. Which character in the novel is most linked to the yellow raft, and why?

2. Discuss how disease and sickness play roles in the novel.

3. Men do not fare well in Dorris' novel. Are there any men who are role models for Lee? for Foxy? for Dayton?

4. Write an essay in which you compare Rayona's and Ida's characters. What can Rayona learn from her grandmother? Can Ida learn anything from Rayona?

5. The color yellow is important thematically in Dorris' novel. What does yellow symbolize for Rayona? for Christine?

6. Does Father Tom sexually assault Rayona on the yellow raft? Support your answer.

7. Discuss Christine's selection of videos that she rents for Rayona. Why does she choose the videos that she does?

8. In Chapter 2, Rayona says, "I'm not what they expect." What does she mean by this statement?

9. What is the significance of the package of medicine that Charlene sends to Christine?

10. Compare Sky's and Lee's actions concerning the military draft. Is one response more honorable than the other? Why or why not?

11. What role does the Vietnam War play in the novel?

12. Discuss Ellen DeMarco's impact on Rayona. What significance does the scrap of letter have that Rayona keeps? When and why does Rayona throw away the scrap?

13. Compare Evelyn and Aunt Ida. How do they individually help Rayona?

14. What is Dayton's role in the novel? Is he a positive role model for Rayona?

15. Many episodes in the novel are humorous. Find one such episode and discuss Dorris' narrative technique of including humor in this otherwise serious novel.

16. How does Christine's emotionally blackmailing Lee into enlisting in the military affect her life after Lee is killed? How does his death affect Dayton?

17. Does Christine really love Rayona? Does Ida love Christine? Write an essay in which you compare these two relationships.

18. How do Ida's many secrets affect both Rayona's and Christine's lives? Should Ida tell her secrets to them? Do you think that Ida ultimately will tell Rayona?

19. Compare Christine and Clara. Does one character fare better than the other? If so, why?

20. Discuss Ida's decision to reject Willard Pretty Dog after she becomes pregnant with his child. Are her actions ennobling?

21. One of the most powerful images occurs at the end of the novel when Ida braids her hair. Write an essay in which you discuss the symbolism of braiding in the novel.

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