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Island of the Blue Dolphins

Scott O'Dell

Important Quotations Explained

Author's Note

Key Facts

I felt as if I had been gone a long time as I stood there looking down from the high rock. I was happy to be home. Everything I saw - the otter playing in the kelp, the rings of foam around the rocks guarding the harbor, the gulls flying, the tides moving past the sandspit - filled me with happiness.

This quotation comes from the beginning of chapter eleven. Karana has awakened from her long sleep on the shore, where she collapsed exhausted after her failed attempt to cross the sea in a canoe. This point in the novel marks a turning point for Karana; before she had been able to stay on the island only because she believed that the white men would come any day to retrieve her. When she realized they would not, she despaired and tried to leave the island on her own. Looking out on the familiar sights of Ghalas-at, Karana sees it as her home and no longer feels so lonely (even though she is alone). Her feelings are the complete opposite of those she expressed only three days before; it is the same island, but her experience alone on the ocean has lead her to see it in a new light.

Below me, Rontu was running along the cliff barking at the screaming gulls. Pelicans were chattering as they fished the blue water. Far off I could hear the bellow of a sea elephant. But suddenly, as I thought of Tutok, the island seemed very quiet.

These lines appear at the very end of chapter 22. Before, Karana had looked out onto her island and been happy because she was home, now, she listens to the sonds of the very same island and feels alone because Tutok's voice, nor any human voice, is among those sounds. That these lines imitate the earlier ones so closely implies that it is Karana, and not the world around her, that is changing.

Ulape would have laughed at me, and others would have laughed, too - my father most of all. Yes this is the way I felt about the animals who had become my friends and those who were not, but in time could be. If Ulape and my father had come back and laughed, and all the others had come back and laughed, still I wouldhave felt the same way, for animals and birds are like people, too, though they do not talk the same or do the same things. Without them the earth would be an unhappy place.

This quotation comes from the end of chapter 24. The chapter describes a spring and summer during which many of the animals Karana has become friends with start families. Karana's vow never to kill another animal or bird marks the development of her own moral code, which is different from that of her people. That Karana's morals are uniquely hers is expressed by her mention of her people in her declaration of her decision. Karana knows that her people (especially Chowig, her father and Ulape, her sister) would find her new ethical standard ridiculous, but Karana nevertheless espouses them, and explains her reasoning for the reader to understand.

Until that summer, I had kept count of all the moons since the time my brother and I were alone on the island. For each one that came and went I cut a mark in a pole beside the door of my house. There were many marks, from the roof to the floor. But after that summer I did not cut them any more. The passing of the moons now had come to mean little, and I only made marks to count the four seasons of the year. The last year I did not count those.

These lines appear midway through chapter 25. In chapter twenty-five, many things happen to mark the passing of time on the island of the blue dolphins; Rontu dies, a generation of otters comes and goes. This quotation shows that time the way the rest of the world sees it has come to mean little for Karana. She has now been on Ghalas-at many years, and her days have become indistinguishable one from the other.

Now that the white men had come back, I could not think of what I would do when I went across the sea, or make picture in my mind of the white men and what they did there, or see my people who had been gone so long. Nor, thinking of the past, of the many summers and winters and springs that had gone, could I see each of them. They were all one, a tight feeling in my breast and nothing more.

This quotation comes from chapter twenty-nine, is in many ways related to above lines from chapter 25. This quotation, like the last one, shows that Karana's days on the island have all melded together. However, now that the white men have come for Karana, she is being thrust back into the time of the rest of the world. This quotation also shows that Ghalas-at had become Karana's world during the time she stayed there. Now that she is leaving, she cannot imagine a life outside the one she has know for so long.

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island of the blue dolphin

by adambob12, February 15, 2013

i love the book it is awesome I'm on chapter 16 it is the besy book better

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18 out of 29 people found this helpful

May need to know..

by HCW10, January 02, 2014

There are some other important notes my Language Art teacher thinks we should know...There was good fortune when the fish washed up on shore to feed them and when Wana-a-pa-le got upset about them killing the otters...this might help a little but otherwise it explains a lot already.

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4 out of 4 people found this helpful

Island of the Blue Dolphins

by note3, February 20, 2014

i hate this our teacher just assigned us this omg i hate this

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4 out of 13 people found this helpful

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