5 - Walnut." However, Rayona's humor only...

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Elgin's appearance in the hospital room focuses the reader's attention on racial heritage. Elgin is  black; Christine is Native American (Dorris never discloses what Indian nation Christine belongs to);  and Rayona is half black, half Native American. Rayona's mixed heritage is a source of discomfort  for her. She never feels that she fits into any established racial category. Although she feels isolated  from everyone else because of her dual race heritage, she's able to find humor in her situation. For  example, in a hardware store, she matched paint colors to her skin color: "I found each of our exact  shades on a paint mix-tone chart. Mom was Almond Joy, Dad was Burnt Clay, and I was Maple 
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Unformatted text preview: Walnut." However, Rayona's humor only hides the deep emotional problems that she has about who she really is. She is a young woman who is trying to discover her personal identity, with no apparent help from her mother or her father, who rarely sees his daughter. The end of Chapter 1 introduces mystery into the novel. Rayona remembers Christine's taking her to her Uncle Lee's funeral, and now Christine wants to take Rayona to Aunt Ida's on the Montana reservation. Rayona knows only that Christine idolizes Lee, Christine's dead brother, and seemingly hates Aunt Ida, Christine's mother and Rayona's grandmother, whom she hasn't seen since she was about eight years old....
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