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

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Although she had not reached her destination, Karana was happy to be home. As she approached the island, she had planned to repair the canoe and leave again. But, now she was inexplicably happy to be back on the island and she knew that she would not leave again.

As she accepted the idea that the island was to be her home, she knew that she needed to build a place that sheltered her from the wind. That became her next project. She analyzed what would be the best location for a permanent home. She wanted to be near a good source of water. She did not want to be near the site of the village, with its bad memories for her. She decided on a place near the sea elephants.


As she decided where to build her home, Karana knew that she was limited in what she could accomplish by what she herself could do. She had no one to help her. But, she was a very resourceful girl, as we learned when she maneuvered the canoe into the water in preparation for her voyage.



Part of Karana's new home would be protected by a large rock, but she needed to build a fence for some of the perimeter. On the island were the ribs of two whales that had been washed up on the island in the past. Karana dug holes close to each other and put the whale ribs into the holes. The ribs were curved. She put them in the holes with the curves outward from the area she wanted to protect. That way, it would be more difficult, if not impossible, for any creature to get in. She bound the ribs together with strong kelp. The entrance of the fence was a hole under it. That hole could be covered with a flat rock so that no dogs or red foxes could get through.

Karana had difficulty finding enough suitable trees for her walls. She only needed two walls. The rock made one wall and she left one side open, the side where there was no problem with wind. Between the skinny trees that she bound together with sinew for her walls and roof she put broad leafed kelp.

Preparing the house took much time, but, finally it was as she wanted it. Then it was time to make weapons for the day she would kill the wild dogs. She already had a spear and a bow with arrows. She felt that she needed a heavier spear and a larger bow with sharper arrows. Just as collecting what was needed to build the house took much time, finding the right material for making these weapons also took much time.

At night for light to work by, Karana burned small dried fish. She called the small fish sai-sai. The way she describes them makes them seem similar to grunion. On nights with a full moon, the sai-sai come onshore in large numbers and cover the sand.

As Karana worked on her new weapons, she decided that the spear would benefit by having the tooth of a bull sea elephant. She did not know if she could succeed in killing a bull sea elephant because they were as heavy as thirty men. But, she was determined to try.


Karana shows a determination and willingness to test herself that is admirable.


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