It is unclear why Christine is so anxious to see Lee enlist, and her reasons are in many ways selfish. Her first concern when she learns that Lee may try to dodge the draft is what her friends will say about her. Christine’s close association with Lee is a large part of her identity, but we get the impression she enjoys being his sister only when he is popular and well liked. However, we also get the sense that Christine seems to want what is best for Lee. Christine steps up her efforts to persuade Lee to enlist only when she realizes that enlisting would greatly help Lee’s future political career. This foresight shows some concern on her part for Lee’s future. While Lee’s success would also improve Christine’s reputation, Christine’s ultimate goal seems to be that they succeed as a pair. Regardless of her true intentions, it is clear that Christine ties her identity closely to Lee’s.
The wild life Christine lives after graduation is another part of her search for identity. She experiences a switch in personalities from a prudish girl obsessed with the alleged end of the world to a popular social butterfly who never misses a party. This party-girl image Christine adopts causes problems in her relationship with Ida, in essence weakening Christine’s identity as a daughter. Christine feels that there is something special waiting for her in the big city, so she goes to Seattle to find it. The jobs she gets are unexciting, however, and none of them provides her with a satisfactory identity to replace the one she has left behind. Although she has shed the discipline and restrictions of life on the reservation, Christine has also lost the support her family provided, and her life feels empty because she is unable to replace this love and support.
When Lee is reported as missing in action, Christine loses one of her last bastions of family love and support. Soon after receiving the news of Lee’s disappearance, however, she meets Elgin. After they spend the night together, Christine makes Elgin a part of her identity, a kind of replacement for Lee, who is far away and possibly dead. Elgin becomes a new anchor for Christine, someone who will stay with her, provide her comfort, and validate her existence.