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Island of the Blue Dolphins

Island of the Blue Dolphins

by Scott O'Dell

Tidal Waves

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Two giant tidal waves hit the island after the earthquake (we'd probably call these tsunamis), and almost drag Karana into the ocean. Their presence reminds us that nature is sometimes violent:

I stood facing the rock, with my feet on a narrow ledge and one hand thrust deep into a crack. Over my shoulder I could see the wave coming. It did not come fast, for the other wave was still running out. For a while I thought that it would not come at all because the two suddenly met beyond the sandpit. The first wave was trying to reach the sea and the second one was struggling toward the shore.

Like two giants they crashed against each other. They rose high in the air, bending first one way and then the other. There was a roar as if great spears were breaking in battle, and in the red light of the sun the spray that flew around them looked like blood. (27.11-27.12)

Although Karana makes friends with the animals, she realizes that nature is something that can't really be controlled. This is very different from her father's view and from the view of the Aleuts. Here, the natural world threatens her life as the giant waves break on the shore. Notice how the waves are described as battling men.

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