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Island of the Blue Dolphins

Island of the Blue Dolphins

by Scott O'Dell

Man and the Natural World Theme

<em>Island of the Blue Dolphins</em> presents an argument for a kinder, gentler relationship between humans and the natural world they live in. How does the book do this? Why, through the character of Karana, of course.

Karana is a friend to the animals if we've ever seen one. To her, the otters and dogs there become creatures to be loved and respected, instead of prey to be hunted. The novel even treats the animals as characters. Even though the animals start out as her enemies, Karana's position against violence gives her a chance to become their friends. The novel follows Karana's progress as she develops a more caring and empathetic relationship with the natural world around her. By the end of the novel, she declares that she is against violence and she swears off ever killing another otter, dog, or seal on the island.

Karana's outlook is pretty much the opposite of the worldview of her father and the Aleuts. These warlike men battled each other, hurting themselves and the environment around them. Karana's view of the world, on the other hand, can be seen as an answer to the destructive ways of her father and the Aleuts. She values animal life, which is closely tied to the way in which she values human life.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. What are the Aleuts' attitudes toward the island?
  2. How do Karana and Rontu become friends?
  3. Why does Karana decide not to hunt devilfish?           
  4. Describe Karana's relationship with Mon-a-nee. How does this relationship change Karana's behavior?   
  5. How does your culture view nature? How is it the same or different from the way Karana sees nature?

Chew on This

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

Humans should be respectful to the natural world and treat both people and animals with care and respect.

Disrespect for the natural world leads to human suffering and pain.

Humans are supposed to tame and shape nature.

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