When Karana is left alone on Ghalas-at, she is only twelve years old. As the novel progresses, she grows and changes in many ways, but in many ways stays the same. Discuss how Karana grows throughout Island of the Blue Dolphins.
The author's note at the end of Island of the Blue Dolphins explains that Karana's story is actually based on true events. Research the history of The Lost Woman of San Nicholas and discuss the novel within this historical context.
Several scenes in Island of the Blue Dolphins are repeated or mimicked later in the story. Choose one or two of these scenes and discuss its significance. How are the two scenes connected? How does O'Dell's use of repetition add to the meaning of the scene? What does this repetition imply in regards to plot development?
Karans is very wary of outsiders and intruders to her island. Discuss the idea of trust in Island of the Blue Dolphins. Is Karana trusting? Does she become more trusting later in the novel, or less so? What incidents show her trust or lack thereof?
Island of the Blue Dolphins chronicles the extraordinary story of one girl's survival. Karana must fend and provide for herself totally on her own. Describe and discuss her survival techniques. How is a twelve-year-old girl able to alone? What are her defeats and triumphs, her successes and sacrifices?
Discuss dolphins as a symbol in Island of the Blue Dolphins. What does the title of the novel suggest in light of this symbolism?