Island of the Blue Dolphins


OM—Scott O’Dell’s novel  “Island of Blue Dolphin” seem to have a central theme of loneliness.  Throughout the novel the character Karana seem to always end up being alone.  It seems as if Karana first felt a sense of loneliness when the Aleuts attacked her people/killed the mend of her tribe.  Loneliness plays a role in the sense that even  thought the tribe fought back they   were alone to fight their battle with whatever weapons they had.  Loneliness can also  be seen throughout other parts of the novel especially on pg 45 when Ramo was killed by  wild dogs.  O’Dell’s demonstrated real  feeling of  being alone  through his character.  Karana was forced to continue on without anyone but herself especially when it comes to fight the many odds.  On pg 152 Rontu’s death also represents loneliness.   Rontu had been a great company to Karana and now he is gone, therefore, leaving Karana to be by herself without a friendly being.  Page 168 too represents loneliness because Karana missed her chance of being save by the “white men.”  Finally, in respect to loneliness, page 173 represented the most horrific/important loneliness of the novel.  Karana  found out that the ship that her people took  was destroyed in a shipwreck.  Now, her people/family/cultural partners are all gone and she is the only one left.  “Not until I came to Mission Santa Barbara and met Father Gonzalez did I learn from him that the ship had sunk in a great storm.”

Gender role also was an important highlight in O’Dell’s novel. Society has always been involved in social roles of genders; men are supposed to… and females should not … In “Island of the Blue Dolphin” women and men had  different roles according to their gender.  Men were responsible for hunting, protecting the people and creating weapons.  Unlike men, women were responsible for cooking and farming/gathering.  Page 11 stated ” the women were cooking supper  but all of them stopped and gathered around her waiting for her to speak.”  Page 25 also supported gender roles ” the women were never asked to do more than stay home , cook food, and make clothing.”  The novel also tells of the one woman the Aleuts brought with them possibly for cooking and performing “women’s work” while they hunted.   Gender roles can also be supported by pg 49. “The laws of Ghalas-at forbade the making of weapons by women of the tribe.”

Nonetheless, I also could not not help but to think of the historical allusion that this story brought.  The events of the story simply reminded me of the Pilgrims and the Native Americans.   Like the earlier event in history “white men” came in ships to the land of the natives and caused the destruction of the Native Americans and their culture.   One might agree that Karana wanted to hold on to her traditions and keep her culture alive even though the ” white men” seem to be a force that rip the Natives and their culture apart.  It also seemed as if O’Dell was trying to  tell his audience how culturally strong Karana was and would do anything to hold on to her traditions.  Even thought Ramo was on the island, I feel that Karana went back to him and not for him because they belong together as a tribe in their home.  Even  though many people tried to keep her from going overboard she managed to break free and return home; that was true determination.  There were many y other events that demonstrated white men trying to rob Karana of her cultural riches/trying to rip her from her tradition.   However, one of the most touching of these events occurred on page 171-172.  Karana was told to strip  herself of her traditional clothing and replace them with clothes that did not belong to her people/culture.  She was alone and couldn’t fight to keep her cultural riches.

*The enclosed picture is a present day Google Earth shot of the San Nicholas Island*

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