Though the rodeo performance does bring Rayona some of the acceptance she has been seeking, it does not solve all of her problems, and Dorris leaves some loose ends for the rest of the novel to pick up and resolve. Even after the rodeo, Rayona’s relationship with her mother is still distant and contentious. When Rayona arrives at Dayton’s house, for example, Christine’s reaction is not what one might expect from a mother who has lost track of her daughter for several months. Christine is angry, and her anger provokes anger in Rayona. To Rayona, her mother’s unwelcoming attitude is irrational, selfish, and stupid. Rayona’s tone in this section gives another negative impression of Christine. In later parts of the novel we see this mother-daughter relationship revisited from a different perspective—Christine’s—at which point we begin to see more clearly the causes of Rayona and Christine’s misunderstandings. For now, however, only Rayona’s bitterness is visible.
Christine is more courteous to Rayona the morning after the rodeo, and Dorris begins to reveal the many hopes and dreams she pins on her daughter. Christine tells Rayona the story of a part of her life, and Rayona notes that the expression on her mother’s face is much like her own expression when upon looking at the yellow raft the day before. Much as the raft represents an idealized fantasy life for Rayona, Rayona represents the same thing for Christine. Christine goes on to tell Rayona a confessional story about her loss of faith, much as Rayona tells Evelyn a confessional story the day before, and the parallels between these two confessions suggest that Christine may get the same relief from talking to her daughter as Rayona does from talking to Evelyn.