THE ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS BY SCOTT O’DELL - STUDY GUIDE 
<br />LITERARY ELEMENTS 
<br />SETTING<br />The Island of t...
The island of the blue dolphins by scott o’dell
The island of the blue dolphins by scott o’dell
The island of the blue dolphins by scott o’dell
The island of the blue dolphins by scott o’dell
The island of the blue dolphins by scott o’dell
The island of the blue dolphins by scott o’dell
The island of the blue dolphins by scott o’dell
The island of the blue dolphins by scott o’dell
The island of the blue dolphins by scott o’dell
The island of the blue dolphins by scott o’dell
The island of the blue dolphins by scott o’dell
The island of the blue dolphins by scott o’dell
The island of the blue dolphins by scott o’dell
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The island of the blue dolphins by scott o’dell

  1. 1. THE ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS BY SCOTT O’DELL - STUDY GUIDE 
<br />LITERARY ELEMENTS 
<br />SETTING<br />The Island of the Blue Dolphins is named after the island which is its setting. This island is also named San Nicholas. It is one of the Channel Islands, which are located just off the coast of California near Los Angeles. It is sixty-one miles from the California shore. The story takes place between 1835 and 1853. 
<br />CHARACTER LIST 
<br />Major Characters 
<br />Karana 
A twelve year old Ghalas-at Indian girl at the beginning of the story. She is really the only main character. Through much of the tale she is the only person on the island. She has another name, Won-a-pa-lei. That means "The Girl with the Long Black Hair." Karana is her secret name, not often used. Although it is not often used in her community, it is the name the author uses as he relates to us her story.<br />

Minor Characters 
<br />Chief Chowig 
Karana's father. He is also chief of the Ghalas-at. The Ghalas-at is the tribe to which the people on the Island of the Blue Dolphins belong. <br />Captain Orlov 
The Russian captain who arrives with the Aleuts to hunt for sea otters at the beginning of the story.<br />Ulape 
Karana's sister. She is unmarried. She is two years older than Karana. <br />Kimki 
The man who replaced Chief Chowig as the leader. He is very old, but respected. <br />Matasaip 
Took Kimki's place leading the Ghalas-at when Kimki left to get help. <br />Nanko 
Brought a message to the group from Matasaip. He relayed to the Ghalas-at the news of the arrival of the ship that would remove the Ghalas-at from the island. Ulape was in love with him. <br />Ramo 
Karana's younger brother, only half her age. He is small for for a six-year-old, quick and frequently foolish. He is difficult to control. When he is the only male remaining on the island, he calls himself Chief Tanyositlopai. After he causes himself and Karana to be stranded on the island, he, with his belief that he is invincible, goes to get a canoe from the place that the tribe hid them, and is attacked by wild dogs. Although he kills two of them, he is also killed. <br />Tutok 
She is an Aleut girl who came with a ship of Aleuts hunting sea otters. She and Karana could not speak each other's language, but still enjoyed being together. She is friendly. She agreed with Karana that Rontu was Karana’s dog, even though Rontu had originally been left by the Aleut ship. She did not take the other Aleuts to see Karana. <br />Father Gonzales 
He was at Mission Santa Barbara when Karana arrived there after being rescued. 

<br />Minor Characters - Animals 
<br />Rontu 
He was left on the island by the Aleuts. He became the leader of the wild dogs on the island and was their leader at the time of the killing of Ramo. Later, after Karana shot him and then helped him back to health, he became Karana's friend and companion. Rontu, the name she gave him when they became friends, means "Fox Eyes." He was grey and had yellow eyes. <br />Rontu-Aru 
He was obviously Rontu's son. Karana befriended him after Rontu died. <br />Won-a-nee 
Was an otter who was injured by the Aleut hunters. Karana cared for her and, at first, named her Mon-a-nee, the masculine version of Won-a-nee. But, she changed her name when she found her nursing baby otters. 

<br />Minor characters - “The underworld” 
<br />Tumaiyowit 
One of two gods that ruled the world and quarreled. He wished people to die. He went down to another world taking his belongings. According to the story, because of this, people die. (See additional note below, after the Mukat entry.) <br />Mukat 
The other of the two gods who ruled the world and quarreled. He did not wish people to die. (See additional note below)<br />Note: These two gods, Tumaiyowit and Mukat, were in the beliefs of other California Indian tribes beside Karana’s tribe. 

<br />Character Groups 
<br />The Ghalas-at 
The tribe that inhabited the island at the beginning of the story. It was Karana’s tribe. She thought of it as her tribe even when, at the end of the book, she was heading toward the mainland, not knowing that she was the only surviving member. <br />The Aleuts 
The Aleuts originated on islands off the coast of Alaska called the Aleutian Islands. Russians had come to their islands about a century before Karana’s time. By Karana’s time, the Russians were in control of the Aleuts. Rather than using Russian hunters, the Russians used Aleut hunters. This was because the Aleuts were very good hunters. (Also, see additional information in Literary/Historical Information section.) <br />The white men 
This is the term used by Karana to describe her tribe’s rescuers and her future rescuers. It refers to the men from the mainland and includes the men from the mission.<br />THE ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS - STUDY GUIDE 
<br />CONFLICT 
<br />Protagonist<br />The protagonist of a story is the main character, who traditionally, undergoes some sort of change. The protagonist of the story is Karana. 
<br />Antagonists<br />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. 
<br />Rising Action/Falling Action<br />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.<br />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.<br />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. 
<br />Climax<br />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.<br />Outcome<br />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. <br />SHORT SUMMARY (Synopsis)<br />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.<br />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.<br />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 her.<br />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.<br />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 seas.”<br />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.<br />THE ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS-FREE BOOKNOTES 
<br />THEMES <br />Also see Themes Analysis in Overall Analysis section for more detail. <br />Respect for all life <br />Forgive enemies <br />Adapt to the situation <br />Live and let live <br />Courage <br />Inner strength 


<br />MOOD<br />Stoic when difficulties are described, but overall, happy. Karana has a “cup half full” or optimistic approach to life which comes across in her telling of the story of her life on the island. 

<br />Scott O’Dell - BIOGRAPHY<br />Scott O’Dell was born in Los Angeles, California on May 23, 1898. He attended Occidental College in 1919, the University of Wisconsin in 1920, Stanford University from 1920-21, and the University of Rome in 1925. He was not focused on graduating and did not. Instead he took courses that were interesting to him and that he felt would help him in a writing career. After college, he worked as a technical director for Paramount Studios, and as a cameraman for MGM Studios. He also worked as a book editor and columnist for Los Angeles newspapers. He became a full-time writer in 1934, writing both fiction and non-fiction. During World War II, he served in the Army Air Corps. In the late 1950s he began writing young adult books. He wrote twenty-eight young adult books before his death in 1989, though some were published after his death. Island of the Blue Dolphins (published in 1960) was his first book intended for a younger audience.<br />He received many awards for his writing over the years. They include: the Newbery Medal in 1961 for Island of the Blue Dolphins, the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award im 1961, Zur Errinnerung an die 2000-Jahrfeier der Stadt Mainz in 1962, and the William Allen White Children's Book Award in 1963, the Newbery Medal in 1967 for The King's Fifth, the Newberry Medal in 1968 for The Black Pearl, the Newberry Medal in 1971 for Sing Down the Moon, Hans Christian Anderson Award in 1972, the University of Southern Mississippi Silver Medallion in 1976, the Regina Medal in 1978, Parents' Choice Award for Alexandra in 1984 for Streams to the River, River to the Sea: A Novel of Sacagewea in 1986. O'Dell was a very highly acclaimed and decorated writer in comparison to his peers. Two of his books have been made into motion pictures, the first was Island of the Blue Dolphins in 1963, followed by the Black Pearl in 1976.<br />Scott O'Dell continued to write young adult books until he died on October 15, 1989 in Mt. Kisco, New York.<br />Los Angeles is near the island on which the story of Island of the Blue Dolphins is set. He first heard the story of The Lost Woman of San Nicholas in 1920. At the time he wrote the story, almost 40 years after first hearing about the Lost Woman, he was upset with hunters. He believed, as Karana did in the latter part of the book, that all nature should be respected. He used the story he had heard about The Lost Woman of San Nicholas as a base on which to weave his ideas about respect for nature. There are not many facts available about the real “Lost Woman.” Scott O’Dell used his knowledge of the area and of the sea, along with additional research to fill in the missing gaps in the known story.<br />Up until the time that he wrote Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O’Dell had only written books for adults. Actually, he originally thought of Island of the Blue Dolphins as a book for adults, but was told that it would make a good book for young people. So, that is what it became. After this book, he wrote only books for young people. He liked the response that he got from his young readers better than the response that he had been getting from adults.<br />The author wrote a follow-up book, Zia, supposedly about Karana’s niece. While that story uses some of what is known about The Lost Woman of San Nicholas, it is not based on a known person. The title character, Zia, is Ulape’s daughter. But, it is not known whether Ulape actually had a daughter and, if she did, what her name was. If you like Island of the Blue Dolphins, you will also enjoy Zia.<br />Scott O’Dell’s books are often about strong girls. He even seemed to prefer strong women as characters in his adult books. And, he frequently wrote about Native Americans and Hispanics.<br />The King’s Fifth is set in the sixteenth century. It is historical fiction as many of the author’s books are. The narrator is a young mapmaker who is in prison. There is a story within the story. It is about an expedition searching for gold in which the narrator took part. Even in this story there is a strong young female character. She seems to be the only one not overcome by greed for gold. She has the same name as the title character of another of O’Dell’s books, Zia, but she is not the same character. This is the author’s second book for young readers. It is a Newbery Honor book and received the German Juvenile International Award.<br />The Black Pearl, the author’s third book for young people, was also named a Newbery Honor book. It is not historical fiction. Rather, it is fable. It is about Ramon, who is the son of a pearl merchant, and the Manta Diablo, which is a very large devilfish. It is also about a huge black pearl that Ramon finds. The setting is Baja California.<br />Sing Down the Moon is about a Navajo girl who is first kidnapped and made a household slave in the home of a Spanish woman. She eventually escapes and returns to her home near the Four Corners area, the area where the states of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico meet. In the last half of the book, her tribe is forced to take the Long Walk to a new home. As a result, many died. This is historical fiction, based on real events, but with mostly fictional characters. Sing Down the Moon was named a Newbery Medal book.<br />Carlota, which won the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, is about a girl who lives on a ranchero. She acts more like a boy and takes part in a famous battle of the Mexican War, the Battle of San Pasqual, near San Diego.<br />Sarah Bishop is a book about a young British girl in Revolutionary War times. Her father sides with the British and her brother sides with the Revolutionaries. Both of them are killed. She has no more family. She lives in a cave. Like Island of the Blue Dolphins, this story is based on a real person. At the time he wrote the book, the author lived near her cave in Westchester County, New York.<br />Black Star, Bright Dawn is about another strong Native American girl. She takes part in the Iditarod, which is a thousand mile race through ice and snow. If you are interested in the Iditarod, you will like this book, but it is not as good as those mentioned above. 
<br />LITERARY / HISTORICAL INFORMATION<br />This book tells the story of "The Lost Woman of San Nicholas." She was a real person. There are records of her existence, but there are not records of everything in the book. Some of what is in the book is based on the author's knowledge of the area along with research that he did.<br />The Aleuts originated on islands off the coast of Alaska called the Aleutian Islands. Russians had come to their islands about a century before Karana’s time. By Karana’s time, the Russians were in control of the Aleuts. Rather than using Russian hunters, the Russians used Aleut hunters. This was because the Aleuts were very good hunters. While in this story the Aleuts are considered by Karana to be enemies, they actually were only doing as they were forced to do by the Russians. Because of the Russians, they had a hard time surviving as a people. Besides rough treatment, they also received diseases from the Russians, as the Indians did from the white men.<br />CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES / ANALYSIS 
<br />CHAPTER 1 
<br />Summary<br />The story begins when Karana, gathering roots with her brother, Ramo, first sighted an Aleut ship heading toward the island where she lived with the rest of the Ghalas-at Indians. Soon the men and women of the island headed toward where the ship would land, toward Coral Cove. The men carried weapons. Soon, a small boat was lowered from the ship. Aleut men with black hair and bone ornaments in their noses rowed the boat. Directing them was a Russian with a yellow beard.. They soon heard that his name was Captain Orlov. Karana's father, Chief Chowig, also introduced himself. There was consternation among the islanders because their chief had told the foreigner his secret name. They knew that could weaken their chief. The captain and the chief discussed the plans of the new arrivals. They were there to hunt sea otters. The islanders had had bad experience in the past with sea otter hunters. At first the captain wanted two thirds for himself and his hunters, but finally he agreed to split half and half. 
<br />Notes<br />It is difficult to understand what half and half meant. What the islanders were to receive was to be in the form of goods, not sea otter skins. How much goods equaled how many skins? We are not told.<br />At the end of chapter 4, the subject of Chief Chowig’s secret name returns. The topic of secret names is revisited in chapter 22, when Karana makes a decision regarding whether or not to give her secret name.<br />The Aleuts came from the Aleutian Islands which are located off of Alaska. The Russians used them because they were good hunters.<br />If you have access to a computer, you can search for web sites that have much information about the Aleutian Islands and the history of the Aleuts. 

<br />CHAPTER 2 
<br />Summary<br />Chief Chowig warned the villagers to not socialize with the Aleuts. The villagers did as their chief told them. But, they did watch the Aleuts from afar. And, all activity was reported back to the group. The Aleuts also observed the Ghalas-at.<br />Ulape, Karana' sister, reported that there was a girl with the Aleuts. The girl dressed like the men and she kept her long hair under her cap. No one believed this.<br />One day Ulape discovered that a school of large white bass had been stranded on a rocky ledge. There was enough for everyone to feast on for two days. The second day, two Aleuts came to the village wanting to share the abundance. Karana's father decided not to share with them. They were capable of doing their own fishing, Chief Chowig rationalized. The two left, planning to tell Captain Orlov. They were not happy. 
<br />Notes<br />The Aleuts who came to ask for a share of bass only numbered two. But, there were many more at the ship who also would be unhappy.<br />CHAPTER 3 
<br />Summary<br />This chapter describes the hunt for sea otters. Karana thought of the otters as her friends and did not like the idea of trading their lives for things, even for beautiful or useful things.<br />The chief told Karana that soon the hunters would be leaving. He had some of the young men staying near the ship on the pretense of building a canoe. There were others watching the ship and the hunters from a longer distance also. Karana's little brother, Ramo, saw the ship captain having his beard trimmed. Everyone waited and wondered when they would leave and whether there would be trouble. 
<br />Notes<br />Karana seems to mirror the author's beliefs regarding respect for nature.<br />The Indians were taking a chance waiting until the hunters were ready to depart before expecting to receive what they were owed.<br />CHAPTER 4 
<br />Summary<br />A description of the weather leads to the conclusion that a storm would soon strike. A storm with rain and wind did strike later that day. But first, a different kind of storm struck, a storm of human violence.<br />The tribe learned that the ship was preparing to leave immediately. The people hurried to Coral Cove, as they had done on the day the ship arrived. Again the men had their weapons. The women hid and watched. Chief Chowig and Captain Orlov talked. The captain was not willing to give the tribe what the chief considered to be fair. The villagers were given one chest of necklaces. The chief thought that three more chests would be fair.<br />The captain yelled orders. Were they orders to bring more chests? Observation told the chief that they were orders to board immediately, not to unload more chests. A fight ensued. When it was over some of the hunters were dead and many of the tribe were dead. Some men of the tribe were also injured. Among the dead was Karana's father.<br />That night those who remained agreed with Karana that her father should not have told the captain his secret name. It had weakened him. 
<br />Notes<br />When the author says that a storm is coming, he is foreshadowing the fight between the ship's crew and the islanders.<br />The subject of the importance of one’s secret name resurfaces in chapter 22.<br />CHAPTER 5 
<br />Summary<br />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.<br />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.<br />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.<br />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. 
<br />Notes<br />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.<br />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.<br />CHAPTER 6 
<br />Summary<br />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.<br />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.<br />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. 
<br />Notes<br />The tribe was stressed after the massacre. This was evidenced by their worry about having enough fresh water.<br /> CHAPTER 7 
<br />Summary<br />The inhabitants of the island were able to pack their things before boarding the ship. No longer was there a need to flee immediately with nothing except the provisions they had already put in the canoes. As they prepared to leave, Ulape took time to draw a blue mark across her nose and cheekbones. This signaled that she was unmarried.<br />As they boarded the ship, Karana lost her brother, Ramo. She was assured that he had already boarded ahead of her, but, once onboard, she could not find him. In a panic, she sighted him on shore. He had gone back to get his spear, the one for which Karana had already refused to let him return. As the ship pulled out, she jumped overboard. Those around her could not restrain her. In the ocean, she let go of the precious items she had chosen to bring with her. She had to do so because she could not carry them and swim to shore. As she swam she was filled with plans to punish Ramo, but when she reached him, the plans were forgotten. 
<br />Notes<br />At this point, being left behind seemed terrible, but it was assumed that someone would return for them. Karana and Ramo did not think that they were simply left there.<br />At the end of the book, when the white men return for Karana, she too puts a blue line across her nose and cheekbones.<br />

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