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Christine is a changed woman after her encounter with
Elgin. She waits impatiently for Elgin’s discharge from the military.
When that day comes, Elgin comes home late but Christine is just
as glad to see him. They spend a passionate few weeks in Tacoma,
living off of Elgin’s savings and spending all of their time together.
Christine decides she wants a child and stops using birth control.
One day, she and Elgin make love in Point Defiance Park and Christine
immediately knows she is pregnant. She tells Elgin and he proposes
Elgin’s money begins to run low, so he gets a job with
the post office. Christine stops drinking and smoking and starts
going to bed early. She goes back to her job on an assembly line
making black boxes for airplanes. Christine is starting to look
quite pregnant, and she wonders when she and Elgin will get married.
They decide to have their wedding ceremony at a courthouse and then
go to a club afterward. Everyone at the club is enthusiastic when
they find out Elgin and Christine are newlyweds. On the walk home,
Christine can feel Elgin drawing away from her, but her fears are
allayed when he carries her the last two blocks to their hotel.
Christine writes a letter to Aunt Ida to tell her about
the marriage but gets no reply. Elgin starts coming home later and
later. When Christine yells at Elgin and accuses him of seeing someone
else, she suddenly realizes that she sounds just like a woman that
one of her former boyfriends deserted to date her. Elgin disappears
for three days. When he returns, Christine does not ask where he
has been. One morning, a week past her due date, Christine receives
a letter from Dayton stating that Lee is dead. Christine’s water
breaks and she takes a taxi to the hospital, putting Dayton’s letter
in the back of her mind.
Elgin does not show up at the hospital. Christine has
some difficulty dealing with the discomfort of childbirth but makes
it through. She was planning to name the baby Raymond, but the baby
is a girl. When Elgin shows up, he wants to name the baby Diane
after his mother, but Christine comes up with “Rayona.” Rayona’s
middle name becomes Diane. Christine refuses to let the nurses put
Rayona in a nursery, so they give her a private room.
Things are good between Elgin and Christine after Rayona
is born, but soon Elgin again begins to stay out later and later.
When Rayona is nine months old, Christine goes back to work and
finds a place of her own. After that, Elgin calls from time to time,
claiming he wants to start over. Christine listens to him at times,
and at other times does not.
Christine is deliriously happy to find someone who appreciates
and loves her, and at first her relationship with Elgin overwhelms
even the affection she has known on the reservation. Her new identity
as Elgin’s girlfriend gives Christine a place and a kind of acceptance
she has never felt before. In this regard, Christine’s relationship
with Elgin is analogous to Rayona’s relationship with Father Tom.
In both cases, an isolated and lonely individual finds someone willing to
shower attention on her. However, both Rayona and Christine end
up having negative experiences with the men they come to trust. The
relationship between Rayona and Father Tom and the relationship
between Christine and Elgin clearly have their differences, in terms
of the level of emotion and commitment involved, the outcome, and
the extent to which each party is invested in the relationship.
However, both relationships are part of the same search, in which
a young woman who can no longer turn to her family tries to find
other people to love and accept her.
Christine decides she wants to augment the identity that
Elgin provides her by becoming a mother, and every time her relationship with
Elgin deepens, Christine temporarily finds satisfaction in her life.
Once Christine becomes pregnant and betrothed to Elgin, she is content
to go back to one of the jobs she had previously thought was too
boring. Her menial job, which was previously unbearably tedious,
is now suffused with greater meaning because it represents a means
to support her child. Just like Rayona, however, Christine can believe
in her fictionalized life only if other people do the same. On the
evening of her wedding, Christine enjoys telling all the people
at the club that she and Elgin are newly married. Just as Rayona finds
an identity by getting Sky and Evelyn to believe in her fictional life,
Christine reaffirms her identity as a wife and mother-to-be by publicly
proclaiming her marriage. Each believes that having others know
about her life, whether real or fictional, validates her identity.
Christine makes a major leap in understanding herself
after Elgin begins repeatedly staying out late at night, and her
rosy view of her life gives way to unflattering comparisons to women
she has known in the past. Feeling abandoned by Elgin, Christine
suddenly realizes how similar she is to the nagging wives of men
with whom she used to have affairs, women whom she always disparaged.
Suddenly seeing things from the viewpoint of these lonely wives
makes Christine reevaluate herself and reinforces her suspicion
that Elgin is cheating on her. Christine begins trying to keep Elgin
close to her and simultaneously gains perspective on the somewhat
promiscuous lifestyle she had been leading. This sudden self-awareness
demonstrates how Christine has changed in only a few months. Becoming
pregnant has made her cautious, thoughtful, and unusually responsible
and has made her begin looking at herself in a new light.
Ace your assignments with our guide to A Yellow Raft in Blue Water!