Dolphins Study Guide Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell|
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THE ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS - STUDY GUIDE
The protagonist of a story is the main character, who traditionally,
undergoes some sort of change. The protagonist of the story is Karana.
The antagonist of a story is the character that provides an obstacle
for the protagonist. The antagonists are the Aleuts and the forces of
nature. Early in the story, Rontu is an antagonist. At one point in the
story, the devilfish is an antagonist.
Rising Action/Falling Action
The rising action is the massacre followed by the rescue of the tribe
from the island. The climax is the arrival and hurried departure of a
rescue ship followed several years later by its return. The falling action
is the nine days that the rescue ship lays anchored in Coral Cove. The
outcome is Karana’s rescue.
In the story of Karana and Rontu, the rising action is when the dogs
kill Ramo. The climax is when Karana does not kill the wounded dog, Rontu.
The falling action is the development of friendship between the two. The
outcome is Rontu’s eventual death.
In the story of Karana and the devilfish, the rising action is the first
encounter between the two. The climax is the encounter in which the devilfish
is killed. The falling action is Karana’s attempt to drag the devilfish
out of the water.
The climax of a story is the major turning point that determines the
outcome of the plot. It is the point to which the rising action leads.
The arrival and quick departure of a ship followed several years later
by its return.
Also known as the resolution or denouement, this is the place in the
plot where the action is resolved or clarified. The outcome is Karana’s
decision not to kill any more devilfish.
SHORT SUMMARY (Synopsis)
Karana’s tribe lives on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. At times they
are bothered by Aleuts who come to take otter from the island.
As the story begins, the Aleuts, with a Russian captain, return. They
agree to pay the islanders for being allowed to take more otter. But,
when it is time to leave, there is a disagreement and a fight. Many of
the men on the island are killed. A ship comes to take the tribe to the
mainland. At the last moment, as the ship is departing, Karana sees her
brother, Ramo, still on shore, jumps into the water and swims for shore.
Ramo is soon killed by wild dogs on the island. Karana tried to follow
her tribe by using one of the canoes, but has to return to the island
because the canoe leaks too badly.
Karana realizes that she will be on the island indefinitely and builds
a permanent shelter. She injures the leader of the wild dogs, but does
not kill him. Instead, she cares for him until he is healthy. They become
friends. The Aleuts return. Karana and an Aleut girl from the ship become
friends, but she leaves and Karana is lonelier than she was before the
girl arrived. The island endures an earthquake and a tsunami. A rescue
ship arrives, but immediately departs, without connecting with Karana,
because of bad weather. Several years later the ship returns and rescues
Another story woven into the main story is the story of Karana’s relationship
with the dog, Rontu. Rontu came from an Aleut ship. He became the leader
of the wild dogs on the island. He was their leader when they killed Ramo,
Karana’s brother. Karana injured him during a revenge attack on the pack,
but did not proceed to kill him. Instead, she cared for him until he was
healthy. They became friends. Once he got into a fight with his former
pack. Karana wanted to help him, but felt that it would be better not
to do so. Rontu lived many years and died of old age. Karana put him to
rest in a carefully prepared grave. Later, she befriended another island
dog who was obviously his son.
A third story that is woven into the main story, but that is of less
importance, is the story of Karana and the devilfish. In their first encounter
the devilfish (octopus) used a black liquid to hide himself and get away
from Karana. Karana did not give up. She looked forward to the time when
she would kill him. She tells us that “Devilfish is the best food in the
She was occupied with other concerns for a while, but eventually she
and Rontu began to search for the devilfish every day. Then, they gave
up temporarily. One day, when they were not searching for him, Rontu spotted
the devilfish again. Karana tried to catch it, and after a long struggle,
she succeeded in killing it. By this time her strength was gone. Her success
did not make her happy. That was the last giant devilfish that she killed.
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