© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Island of the Blue Dolphins

Island of the Blue Dolphins


by Scott O'Dell

Island of the Blue Dolphins Theme of Language and Communication

Can we talk? No, we mean really talk?

Good. Because that's what this novel really wants us to do. Talk.


Communication barriers can really cause problems – especially when cultures come into conflict. Misunderstanding and miscommunication have pretty serious and violent consequences, as we learn in the book. However, human communication is one of the strongest bonds that people can have. Island of the Blue Dolphins suggests that trying to communicate with others – not just speak, but really understand, each other's language – can bring hugely different cultures and people together. 

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. Do Captain Orlov and Chief Chowig communicate effectively? Why or why not?
  2. How does Karana communicate with Rontu?
  3. How do Karana and Tutok communicate despite speaking different languages?
  4. Why is the human voice the best sound in the world to Karana's ears?
  5. Have you ever tried to communicate with someone who doesn't speak your language? How did you do it? Were you successful?

Chew on This

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

Communication brings people together.

Communication is a lot more than just language; people who speak different languages can still communicate.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...