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A Yellow Raft in Blue Water

Michael Dorris

Chapter 9

Chapter 8

Chapter 9, page 2

page 1 of 2

Summary: Chapter 9

This chapter marks the start of the second part of the novel, and the narrative voice switches from Rayona to Christine and from the present tense to the past.

Christine’s narrative begins immediately after the time Christine expected the world to end. Christine regrets that she missed a party while getting ready for the apocalypse that never came and vows to never miss another party. Christine’s brother, Lee, is the best-looking boy on the reservation, but Christine does not consider herself attractive at all. She wonders if she and Lee have the same father, but Aunt Ida never tells them. Ida does not let Christine and Lee call her “mom” because she was never married.

Lee hangs around with Christine throughout grade school. Christine is the toughest kid in her class, so the boys always send her out on dares, which she accepts every time. One day, however, they dare Christine to cross a natural bridge of stone that runs high over a stream. She is almost across when she freezes with fear, paralyzed until Lee comes and pulls her across. When the two walk down the ridge, Christine makes a mental list of things she should never again dare to do.

When Christine is a sophomore and Lee is thirteen, a child of mixed heritage named Dayton Nickles moves to the reservation. Dayton becomes Lee’s shadow, following him everywhere. By this time, Christine is popular among her peers, and other girls in her class go to her when they want to learn about making out. One day, Christine is in her room and catches Dayton looking at her from the next room. Taking this look as a sign of Dayton’s interest, Christine becomes attracted to Dayton. During a powwow the next April, Christine takes Dayton out to a field and tries to seduce him. They begin kissing, but Dayton pulls away, telling Christine he thinks of her as a sister. Christine is furious. Dayton and Christine have a falling-out, and Lee is torn between them.

Lee is an excellent rider and becomes a rodeo star. However, Aunt Ida refuses to allow Lee to make riding his profession. Christine can tell that Ida has other plans for Lee, but she does not know what they are. Some people claim that Lee will one day be regarded as the Indian JFK because he is so smart and handsome.

After she graduates from high school Christine gets a job with the tribal council and constantly goes out with boys. One night Christine takes a road trip to North Dakota with Diamond, a young man who already has two children, and they stay there for two weeks. When Christine comes home, Ida is angry with her because Diamond’s mother has complained to Ida that Christine is preventing her from seeing her grandchildren. Christine moves out of Ida’s house and goes to live with Pauline, Ida’s sister.

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