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Study Guide Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell

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That night was like a nightmare for the tribe. The day had begun with forty-two men. Now, there were fifteen. Seven of those were old.

Some of the islanders wanted to go to Santa Catalina, an island to the east. But, they did not go there. One of the surviving old men, Kimki was the new leader. He assigned work to everyone. The women were assigned tasks formerly done by men. This caused friction between the men and the women. Because of the friction, Kimki issued a new order. From then on, men would do men's work and women would do women's work. There was already enough food so that this did not cause a problem.

Karana and Ulape had trouble taking care of Ramo. Their mother had died several years earlier and now their father was gone, too. Similar problems were occurring in other households as well. Aside from these inter-personal burdens were the burdens that the survivors carried in their hearts. It was a sad winter with no laughter.

In the spring, Kimki decided to go to a country to the east. He had been there when he was a boy. He promised to find a place for the tribe to live and to then return for them. After he left, there was much discussion about his trip among those remaining on the island.


We can assume that Kimki was headed to California, likely to a mission. California is 61 miles away from San Nicholas. Santa Catalina Island is somewhat closer, approximately 47 miles.

There was friction within the tribe because of the new division of labor. There is a division of labor between women and men in most societies. And, a change in circumstances can easily cause problems in this regard. Here is another example of this: During the Second World War, women worked in factories while the men were soldiering. Then, when the men returned, the women were expected to give up their jobs.



The tribe waited for Kimki's return, but in vain. Then, their thoughts turned to worries about the water supply, something that in the past would not have caused so much worry.

Matasaip, who had taken the leadership position when Kimki left, worried about the return of the Aleuts. Plans were made to leave the island if the Aleuts returned. Canoes were filled with supplies and hidden, ready for a quick evacuation at the first sign of their return. At that time the tribe would head to Santa Catalina, the island to which they had previously considered going.

One night the man who was on watch duty awoke the tribe. He thought that he saw the Aleut ship returning. After everyone was awake and ready to head toward the canoes, he had different news. Yes, there was a ship approaching, but it was not the same one, not the ship that they feared. The people waited by the canoes while the need to leave was checked. Eventually, Nanko came running with a message from Matasaip. The ships were from where Kimki had gone. Kimki had told them to come to the island. They were to take the tribe to the land where Kimki was.


The tribe was stressed after the massacre. This was evidenced by their worry about having enough fresh water.


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