Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 733
1. Using the Internet and print sources, find out as much about Montana as possible: pictures, maps, geography, cultural and historical sites. How has the state—particularly its Indian reservations—changed over the last century? How does the "Big Sky" state define itself for tourists? What other impressions of the state can be gleaned from less commercial sources? How does this information about Montana complement your reading of A Yellow Raft in Blue Water?
2. As an experiment, engage a small group of people in a conversation on any subject. Then ask each person to write a description of what happened without consulting the others. How does each person reconstruct conversation differently? What are some of the other differences between each version? What does this experiment lead you to conclude about the ways we remember events, the ways we construct stories? How might these conclusions be applied to this novel?
3. Re-read a chapter from each of the three sections of A Yellow Raft in Blue Water, keeping a log of the figures of speech that the characters use. Are the metaphors and similes consistent in any way? Do characters seem to use them in certain situations? Are the metaphors and similes drawn from Native American culture? from women's experience? What is added by Dorris's use of these figures of speech?
4. Choose a scene that is repeated in each section of the novel, and re-read each narrator's version of it. What does each character see that the others do not? Does any version seem truer than the others do? Write an explanation, using specific textual references, of how the same story can be shaped by the teller and her experiences.
5. Using Internet and print sources, find out about the Indian Power Movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. What issues were raised? What were the goals of this political movement? How does Dorris use this movement in the novel?
6. Alcoholism is brought into this novel through the characters of Lecon, Foxy, and Christine, and it is a subject that engaged Dorris extensively. His book, The Broken Cord (1989) blends analysis of alcohol abuse among Native Americans with Dorris's personal story of adopting a son who he later discovered had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, a birth defect caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Using print and Internet sources, write a report about alcohol and alcohol abuse among Native Americans.
7. Using your library's archives or electronic versions available online, find women's magazines that may have been popular during the time periods of this novel—perhaps one from each decade of the 1930s through the 1980s. Examine the advertisements as well as the articles themselves. Photocopy illustrations, passages of texts, and photographs; construct a collage that visually makes some point about women through these decades. What views of women and their worlds would have been...
(The entire section contains 733 words.)
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