Dorris's skill in providing concrete descriptions to suggest larger meanings is evident in the central symbols and recurring images of the book. The imagery in the title itself, for example, suggests the clarity and simplicity of a vision or dream that, for Rayona at least, is attainable only too briefly. Thus the yellow raft recalls not only Ray and Father Tom's sexual incident, which to Ray has the quality of a dream, but also Ellen DeMarco, who Ray first sees poised on the raft, representing "everything I'in not but ought to be." Another central image in the story is hair braiding, in which several separate strands are woven into one. Thus the story opens with Christine pulling Ray's hair into a braid and ends with the image of Ida braiding her own hair. In the same way, Dorris has woven the three separate angles of vision provided by Rayona, Christine, and Ida into one complex but unified tale. As Kakutani has noted, Dorris is also a master of the telling descriptive image: the broken taillight, "spilling a red at a funny angle," or the leaves on the trees, "heavy as tin" on a hot, breezeless day.
A Yellow Raft in Blue Water, BookRags