Twist Of A Braid Essay, Research Paper
Generations through generation traditions have been passed down from grandmother to
mother to daughter. In the novel, A Yellow in Blue Water, it was a tradition of their heritage, that Rayona, Christine, and Ida didn’t forget. Braiding is mentioned throughout the entire novel in each story of the women.
An example of braiding and beauty tips is when Rayona is sitting next to her mother, Christine’s, side in the hospital. “[Christine] ha[d] earlier spent twenty minutes pulling [Rayona's] long frizzy hair into a herringbone braid” because it was always something they could do together. Christine felt braiding was something she could always rely on to keep a common bond between them. The braiding gave Christine memory of her life at the reservation and she wanted to share this special tradition with her daughter. Consequently, Christine “tried to give [Rayona]
beauty magazine tips” to improve her appearance. Christine wanted her daughter to be as pretty as she could be. She didn’t feel her daughter was ugly; she thought she wasn’t showing her true beauty. Her mother gave her suggestions of “cosmetics to highlight [her] cheekbone of soften [her] chin, a blusher that might even [her] skin tone” so that she could be as pretty as possible.
Christine wanted her daughter to be just like her and to grow up with all the men she wanted. She said all these things to Rayona only to encourage her to become more aware of her appearance. Christine loved her daughter a lot and only wanted the best for her.
There were many times when Aunt Ida braided her own hair in order to release any type of stress that she might have felt when the children annoyed her. For example, when Rayona woke the morning after she had fixed Aunt Ida’s hair, “[Aunt Ida] had braided her hair so tight that it arched and forked like a sidewinder down her back”. Christine had spent the night before fixing Aunt Ida’s hair so that she would be pretty for the ending of the world, but she had become very angry when Lee had laughed at her. She just assumed to forget the entire instance. When Aunt Ida knew the world was not going to come to an end and as Father Hurlburt and she sat on the roof, she “lifted [her] arms about [her] head and began”. Many of the people around had trouble understanding the power of braiding, like Father Hurlburt, and it was very difficult for him to understand everything like she and the others did. Nobody really understood the thresh hold of the braid and gave it credit for all that it was. For example, “[Father Hurlburt] did not identify the rhythm of the three strands, the whispers of coming and going, the twisting and tying and blending, of catching and letting go, of braiding”. No one could imagine the possibilities that were emerged from her when she braided her hair. It allowed her to become a person in herself. Aunt Ida felt that with every weave she made that a new story was being told.
The women and men on the reservation felt the need to braid their hair so that they could identify their heritage. Christine told Rayona that the braid “was to give [her] [her] identity” as a young girl on the reservation. Christine feels strongly that Rayona shall know her heritage and everything she can about it. She wants her daughter to understand the emotional power of the braids. When Rayona had taken the place of Foxy at the rodeo, they braided her hair into a “thick black braid” so they would not think Rayona was who she was. She gave up her identity as a girl by the braid and the help of some boys clothes. No one assumes anything was wrong when she has her hair in a braid. It was very usual for the boys to wear their hair up like this unlike in today’s society. To show that Rayona is not at all a boy, she “knock[s] off [her] hat, undo[es] the rubber band, comb[s] with [her] fingers, and shake[s] out [her] braid” with all the pride of a young girl. The crowd soon takes notice that this young boy is not at all a boy, in fact a woman trying to take the place of the boy. The braids are not used to be a sexist symbol like we think of them as.
As a result of the braids, the three women have a lot in common. More than they realized, they are all binded by the strands of love they cannot bear to admit to one another. The twisting and tying of the braid helps to symbolize all the confusion they experience with each other and all the family troubles they encounter during their lives. The braid binds them together by its strands. The catching and letting go of the hair symbolizes the grudges and forgiveness of all the things they hold against each other. With the braid, they can let go of what they choose, and hold on to the memories they want to remember.