In the richly textured novel A Yellow Raft in Blue Water, author Michael Dorris splendidly weaves a narrative in which the meaningful stories of three generations of women are told. Each story is incomplete without the other, and the reader is not fully able to understand the beginning narratives until they reach the narrative of the grandmother, Aunt Ida. As Aunt Ida explains, "She doesn't realize that I am the story." (page 297) Upon closer examination of Aunt Ida it becomes very obvious that she is not unlike many other characters of American literature. Most notably, Aunt Ida can be successfully compared to that of Hester Prynne from Nathaniel Hawthorne's A Scarlet Letter. It is only when readers compare and contrast different characters from seemingly diverse books that they are able to firmly grasp the character's true personality, assessing their ultimate success or failure. Thus in order to decide the ultimate success or failure of Aunt Ida and Hester Prynne, it is crucial to closely examine each character, comparing and contrasting woman's struggles in life.
Aunt and Ida and Hester Prynne essentially share the same shame, humiliation, and resentment stemming from one profound event in their life. This one event shapes and molds their characters, explaining their characteristics and the ways they act. With the event also come struggles that they must face everyday. In the case of Aunt Ida, she had the misfortune of coming in contact with her Aunt Clara. Aunt Clara, who had come to take care of her sick sister, instead resorted to an affair with her brother-in-law, Lecon, who is Ida's father. To avoid public humiliation, Clara and Lecon devise the plan to pretend as if the baby were Ida"s, though she is only fifteen. Clara explains that everyone already knows she has a crush on Willard Pretty Dog, and no one would think anything of it. Clara then decides to give the baby girl, named Christine, up for adoption.