An Analysis Of "A Yellow Raft in Blue Water" by Micheal Dorris

Essay by Drama_QueenHigh School, 11th gradeA+, January 2003

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"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." This quotation from Thomas Edison is an excellent representation of the three narrators in Michael Dorris' novel, A Yellow Raft in Blue Water. Ida, Rayona, and Christine have the most complicated lives, and yet they still fight for a better way of life. Through many unique and interesting techniques, Michael Dorris is able to create these three admirable women that portray the strength and unity of family in his novel. In order to create them, he uses the narrators and their relationships to each other, history and media, and symbols. Dorris' techniques defy the traditional belief that characterization is obtained by description or detail and goes a step further than them. All of these together create the three women, Rayona, Christine, and Ida, who, in turn, tell their part of the story and how their lives relate to the others.

The relationship between the three narrators sets the foundation for the character development. Each of the characters has a sometimes strained, but always strong relationship with the others. Rayona's relationship with Christine, her mother, is the opposite of what it should be. Rayona is more like the mother than Christine is and she often treats her mother better than she is treated. This is only one of the many ways that Rayona's strong, down to earth personality is shown. It is ironic that she is named after Rayon, one of the toughest materials because her character is as "durable as the material" (Owens 359). Christine is the opposite of her daughter; she would rather be entertained than to work. Besides Christine's childishness, she also has problems with her mother. At the beginning of her story, she describes herself as "the bastard daughter of a woman who...