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Island of the Blue Dolphins

Island of the Blue Dolphins


by Scott O'Dell

Island of the Blue Dolphins Theme of Memory and the Past

As William Faulkner once wrote, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." This is definitely true for Karana, the protagonist of Island of the Blue Dolphins. She's haunted by the old memories of the life she used to have on the deserted island where she now lives. The past is even deeper than Karana's memories, though, and not everything is sad.  Her island's history and her ancestry can strengthen her. It was her courageous forefathers, after all, who settled the island in the first place. Where, ultimately, is Karana's place – the past, present, or the unknown future?

Questions About Memory and the Past

  1. Why does Karana decide she doesn't want to live in the village anymore?  Why does she burn it down?
  2. Who are the gods that people believed once lived on the island. What is their importance?
  3. How does Karana find the courage to travel across the ocean?
  4. Why is Karana scared when she's in the Black Cave?
  5. When she's alone, who does Karana miss the most, and why?

Chew on This

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

One must not live in the past. One must face the future.

The past is part of who we are, and who we will become.

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