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Island of the Blue Dolphins
Island of the Blue Dolphins
by Scott O'Dell
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Island of the Blue Dolphins Theme of Foreignness and 'the Other'

What happens in Island of the Blue Dolphins when two wildly different cultures are pitted against each other? In Round 1, the Aleuts take on the native islanders and literally massacre them. Culture clash, anyone? Yeah, you could say that. Neither culture can see the other's point of view, and the result is a bloody, destructive mess. Each sees the other culture as, well, "others." (That is, as different from them.)

In Round 2, however, Karana has a chance to adjust this point of view. Instead of clashing with the "others" – or foreigners – she learns to communicate with them. Karana tries to be friends with (not fight) others. Her relationship with the Aleutian girl Tutok teaches us that human connection is the most important thing of all.

Questions About Foreignness and 'the Other'

  1. What are the differences between the Aleutian and island people?
  2. What is the basis of Tutok's friendship with Karana?
  3. Why do the white men make Karana put on a full-length dress? How does she feel about it?
  4. Why is the human voice the sweetest sound in the whole world to Karana?
  5. What do you think will happen to Karana when she reaches the mainland?  How will she adjust to her new life and the new culture?  How do you think the white people will view her?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Different cultures will struggle for power and resources when brought together in the same environment.

Cultures can understand each other through communication and empathy.

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Previous Page: Isolation

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