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Spring and summer pass, and the white men's ship still does not return. Karana begins to wonder what will happen if the Aleuts come back, and realizes she must have some means of escape. She begins to work on the small canoe with which she had tried to leave the island. It is very heavy, so she makes it smaller by taking it apart and cutting the planks to a smaller size, then reassembling it. All the time she works on the canoe, Rontu is with her. He has learned his name and the words for pelican (zalwit) and fish (naip). Karana talks to him just as she would a person, and realizes for the first time just how lonely she had been before he befriended Rontu.
When the canoe is finally finished, Karana and Rontu take it for a test run around the island. They explore a cave near the headland (where Karna's house is). The cave is very dark, and while navigating it, Karana wonders whether this is the type of place where the angry Tumaiyowit (a god of her peoples' legend) had gone. Soon she discovers a rock ledge that would be a perfect place to store her canoe so that she could have it ready if she needed to escape the Aleuts. Karana is very excited about this discovery but Rontu is busy watching a devilfish (an octopus) in the water below. Karana raises her spear to kill the devilfish (which are very tasty), but it shoots out a cloud of ink and escapes. Karana decides to spend some of her time during the winter making a special type of spear she has seen people of her tribe use to catch devilfish. Karana happily stores her canoe for the winter thinking of the spring when she can bring it back to the cave.
During the winter, Karana makes herself another dress and the spear she needs to catch the devilfish. When spring comes, she goes to Coral Cove to hunt. Rontu does not go with her. During the winter the wild dogs had come to her house several times, but the previous night, after they left, Rontu had stood by the fence and whined to be let out. Karana had let him go and he did not return. Now, fishing in the cove, Karana finds it difficult to keep her mind off of Rontu.
When she has finished fishing for the day, Karana heads home with her catch. On her way home, she hears dogs fighting in the woods. She follows the sound to a meadow by a low sea cliff. There, she finds Rontu fighting with two other dogs, surrounded by the rest of the pack. Rontu is hurt, and twice Karana fits an arrow to her bow, but she never shoots. Rontu beats both of the other dogs, then runs off into the woods. When Karana returns home, Rontu is there waiting for her. He never leaves again, and the wild dogs never return to the headland.
This section explores the relationship between memory and loneliness. Karana realizes how lonely she had been on the island before she befriended Rontu. She had felt the pangs of loneliness before she attempted to leave the island, but when she returned, they ceased. It would seem, however, that Karana's acceptance of Ghalas-at as her home only relieved her loneliness by allowing her to forget. She had the comfort of familiar surroundings, but no companionship. Karana talks to Rontu as if here were human and could respond; Karana talks to Rontu as she says, "just as if I were sitting with one of my people." It is important to note that Karana treats Rontu like a human companion, indicating that her loneliness might not be fully alleviated by his presence, and that she still longs for people to talk to. Karana makes no mention of this, however.
Karana demonstrates the process of finding meaning in the absence of a human community. She is becoming more comfortable and at home on the island of the blue dolphins. She finds time for pursuits that are beyond her basic needs. She makes an extra dress, and a new spear to hunt devilfish. Karana is very pleased with her creations, and is also excited to hunt devilfish in the spring. Even though Karana still watches daily for the white men's ship, she has also found her own meaning on the island It is also important to note that the spear s the first weapon she has been able to make without the fear inspired by her peoples' law that women should not make weapons popping up in the back of her mind, and this shows that Karana has become more comfortable with her own code of conduct.
The battle between Rontu and the other dogs in chapter seventeen is very much like the scene in which Ramo is killed. In both cases, Karana hears the barking of dogs in the distance while wondering where someone close to her has disappeared to, and in both cases she finds that person (or dog) near a cliff, surrounded by wild dogs. The similarity of the two scenes carries a number of significances. First, it makes the reader recall the incident with Ramo when Rontu goes missing, and later when Karana hears the dogs barking off in the distance. Because the wild dogs killed Ramo, the similarity of the two scenes implies that Rontu will meet a similar end. Second, it establishes a connection between Ramo and Rontu in relation to Karana, implying that Karnan has similar relationships with the two.
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