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Christine is remarkable for the dramatic differences between
her inner self and the self she presents to those around her. In
the eyes of her daughter, Rayona, Christine appears to be irrational
and irresponsible—hardly the attributes of an ideal mother. But
when Christine has the opportunity to tell her story, her behavior
becomes more understandable. Christine’s main problem in relationships with
others, especially with Rayona, is her inability to translate her feelings
into actions. This weakness naturally causes problems between Christine
and Rayona, as Rayona tends to judge others based solely upon their
Christine passes through a number of different stages
and personalities in her life. She is first bold and brave, then
deeply religious, and finally reckless. This irresponsibility continues
even after Rayona is born: Christine takes her child to bars when
she cannot find a babysitter. Because Christine does not makes a
transition from being the life of the party to being a mother, she
cannot fulfill the role that Rayona imagines a mother should. It
is not until she knows she is dying that Christine really begins
to act like a mother, after she realizes that Rayona will be all
that is left of her life once she is gone.
Christine is the bridge between old and new in the novel.
She is responsible for Rayona’s knowledge of the world, but her
own misunderstandings are compounded as they are passed on to her daughter.
She is connected both to the city and to the reservation, and both
places shape her personality. She represents a transition from old
to new, during the difficult period when old problems have yet to
fully heal but new ones are already beginning.
Ace your assignments with our guide to A Yellow Raft in Blue Water!