A Yellow Raft in Blue Water is a story of three generations of women. Each woman is faced with basically the same type of event in her life and each reacts differently to that event. The event that is being focused on is the loss of the parent(s), whether the parent was known or unknown, and the loss of their childhood and how this affects their behavior. The loss of parent(s) that is being discussed is not due to death, but it is the emotional loss of a parent not assuming the parental role of the child. How a person reacts to an event and the outcome is based on their different personalities, developmental stages, environmental factors, etc. When the parent(s) of the child do not assume the necessary role that a parent must fill for a child they will emotionally damage the child.
Ida seemed to be an average 15 year-old girl who lives at home with her mother and father, Annie and Lecon and her sister, Pauline. Ida attended school, where she was seen as an intelligent girl by the teachers, but constantly attempted to act like she was not as smart as she was. When her mother became ill, the family took over her mother's work responsibilities and also Annie's care until it became too much for her father. Ida was able to take on the role of caring for her family when her mother could no longer do so. Ida did not have a lot of guidance during the time her mother was sick. She and her sister basically were raising themselves during difficult time periods in their lives.
When it became too difficult for Lecon to work and care for his wife, Ida offered to quit school in order to care for her mother and help the family. Ida's father, Lecon refused the offer because he was too proud and felt that people would talk if he allowed her to do this. After much discussion it was decided that Annie's younger sister, Clara would come to live with them. Clara was going to help with caring for Annie so that Lecon would be free to work and not worry about his wife.