Earlier we encounter the possibility that Christine wanted Lee to join the army at least partly out of concern for her own reputation, and now we see this selfishness backfire. At Lee’s wake, Christine sees that Lee’s enlistment has, ironically, actually been detrimental to her reputation, as many people on the reservation blame her for Lee’s death. Christine’s reaction to this blame is two-fold. She comes to the reservation ready to forgive Dayton for dodging the draft and to play the part of the grieving but kind sister. When she realizes that people blame her, Christine becomes angry at Dayton and Ida, a reaction that seems to indicate that Christine’s primary interest is still her own reputation. However, Christine’s emotional state at Lee’s funeral shows that her grief is very real. While the other mourners are sad, they are at least able to contribute to Lee’s burial, but Christine is too stricken with grief to throw her handful of dirt onto Lee’s coffin. She does not want to forget Lee and is unable to make this final gesture until Dayton forces her to. For Christine, Lee is still only halfway up the golden steps.
Dayton finally forces Christine to accept the reality of Lee’s death and let go of his memory. Now that Lee is gone, Christine’s best and clearest memories of him are through Dayton. Christine and Dayton share a connection after Lee’s death that is as strong as the one they shared over Lee’s future when he was still alive. Lee was originally a source of competition for Christine and Dayton, but now their shared memories of him bring them closer together.