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

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Karana heads toward where the sea elephants are as soon as she wakes up. From a safe distance, she looks over the bull sea elephants and decides to shoot the smallest one. He does not have any cows. She takes time deciding where the best place to aim is. Then, the sea elephant that she had planned to shoot starts toward the cows of a neighboring bull sea elephant. This prompts the neighbor to attack him. During the ensuing fight, Karana injures her knee. Karana leaves while the fight continues.


Karana did not have a chance to use her arrows, so she still has all of them. That is good. Perhaps the fight between the bull sea elephants will accomplish her task for her. Perhaps one sea elephant will kill the other, thus enabling Karana to get a tooth for her spear.



Karana had trouble getting back into her enclosure. Her leg injury made getting into her enclosure much more difficult. After some days in the enclosure, she had to leave to get more water. She had to crawl to the water source. The dogs found her. She was able to get into a cave. She stayed there until she could walk. While she was there, she prepared it for use in case of future need. She looked at pictures on the walls of the cave that had been made many generations earlier.

When she was finally well again, she went back to the scene of the sea elephant battle. There she found a carcass with teeth for her spear.

After making two more spears using the sea elephant teeth, Karana was finally prepared to kill the wild dogs.


Karana continues to impress us with her ability to do what needs to be done. And, she takes advantage of every opportunity, such as the chance to ready the cave for future use.



Karana describes how there have been dogs on the island as far back as she can remember, both wild ones and ones that belonged to the men of the tribe. But, when the men were killed their dogs joined the wild dogs and the pack became bolder. After the men died and before the remaining members left there were plans developed for getting rid of the wild dogs.

The dogs were now led by a dog that Karana thought had been left by the Aleuts. He was different than the rest of the dogs. One difference was that he was larger.

According to plan, Karana took her spears to the dogs' lair. When she knew that they were inside, she lighted a fire in brush that she put in front of the entrance to the lair. She planned to smoke them out and spear them as they exited. She especially wanted to kill their leader, the Aleut dog. And, she was able to spear him when he came out. While she was busy killing two other dogs, the leader disappeared.

Two days late, Karana found the leader, half dead. She meant to spear him again, but, for some inexplicable reason, she did not.. Instead, she put him on her shoulders and carried him to her house. She had to temporarily remove two of the whale ribs in order to get him inside the enclosure. She cleaned his wound. She left the entrance open for him to escape while she was away. But, when she returned, he was still there. She slept up on the rock because she was not comfortable sleeping where he could attack her. But, over time, a friendship developed and she began sleeping near him. She named him Rontu, which means "fox eyes."


It is surprising that Karana adopted the leader of the pack. It seems more likely that she would adopt a puppy. After all, Rontu is the same dog who stalked her earlier, with his pack to back him up.


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