Rayona’s Growth in A Yellow Raft In Blue Water
As the subject of the first section of Doris’ novel, A Yellow Raft In Blue Water, Rayona faces many problems that are unique to someone her age. Ray’s mixed race heritage makes her a target of discrimination on the reservation. Problems in her family life (or lack thereof), give Rayona a reversed role in which she is the mother taking care of Christine. In dealing with these issues, Rayona learns a lot about herself and others.
Because of the life that Christine leads, the role of mother and daughter are switched and Rayona often finds herself watching out for her mom. When Ray comes home from school, she would often learn that her mother had gone out to party. Times like this meant that Rayona had to care for herself. It is not uncommon for one to stay out late; but when it is the parent who is doing so, one must question the responsibility of the person. When Christine leaves the hospital, Rayona shows up and helps prevent a potential disaster. She realizes what her mother plans to do, and that her mom will not crash the car with her on board. While Christine is not very reliable, she has no wish to hurt Rayona either; Ray’s prediction was correct. As a child, Rayona must fulfill more obligations than a normal teen. Over the time that leads to her abandonment, Rayona begins to feel displaced from her mother. Christine’s increasing self concern causes Rayona to feel her mom is ignoring her, when that is not true at all.
In any given culture, people are proud of their heritage. However, when an individual of one group meets with people of another, and the element of ignorance is added, the individual will be socially ostracized. Of mixed descent, Rayon…
…lways easy to accomplish. After getting bucked off for the first time then the second, Ray feels that she has “a connection to a power that she never knew existed (120).” This event enormously boosts Rayona’s self-perception and leads her forward in life.
As a teen, Rayona is in a confusing period of life. The gradual breakdown of her family life places an addition burden on her conscience. Without others for support, Rayona must find a way to handle her hardships. At first, she attempts to avoid these obstacles in her life, by lying, and by not voicing her opinions. Though when confronting them, she learns to feel better about herself and to understand others.
Gleick, Elizabeth. “An Imperfect Union.” Newsweek. 28 April 1997: 68-69.
Covert, Collin. “The Anguished Life of Michael Dorris.” Star Tribune. 3 Aug. 1997: A1, A10-A13.