Island of the Blue Dolphins


Chapters 4–5

Summary Chapters 4–5


The tension that has been building ever since the Aleuts arrived on the island explodes in this chapter. Chowig distrusts the Aleuts and will not let them leave without first paying his people in full, and this rashness cost him his life and the lives of many men of Ghalas-at. In the eyes of the people, Chowig dies because he has revealed his secret name to Orlov, someone who cannot be trusted. Karana also espouses this belief, and her mistrust of outsiders grows. The importance of the connection between trust and the use of secret names will only become apparent later in the novel, when Karana finally begins to overcome some of her mistrust of others.

This chapter also shows that tribal traditions strongly govern the lives of the characters. Kimki's decision to renounce the division of labor in the people of Ghalas-at was made out of necessity, and allowing women to do the work once given only to men prove quite useful and effective. However, this change makes the men of the village angry, and eventually Kimki restores the old order. The women are, in reality, as good as or better than the men at the men's jobs (as Karana explains in chapter five), and thus the division of labor is revealed as arbitrary. Even so, the men consider tasks such as hunting to be rightfully theirs, and the strength of such tradition is enough to bring things back to the way they were.