Study Guide

Mon-a-nee in Island of the Blue Dolphins

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Karana saves an otter from the kelp bed in Chapter 23 after the Aleutian hunters leave. Instead of killing the otter as the Aleuts would have done, she heals him and names him Mon-a-nee. Their relationship represents a different approach to the natural world. Karana is caring and helps to heal, which is so different from the bloody violence of the Aleutians.

Karana sees the otter again in Chapter 24 and realizes that the otter is female and she has children. Karana gives her the name Won-a-nee (the female version of Mon-a-nee). Her friendship with the otter is what helps her change into a person who loves peace and the environment:

After that summer, after being friends with Won-a-nee and her young, I never killed another otter. I had an otter cape for my shoulders, which I used until it wore out, but never again did I make a new one. Nor did I ever kill another cormorant for its beautiful feathers, though they have long thin necks and make ugly sounds when they talk to each other. Nor did I kill seals for their sinews, using instead kelp to bind the things that needed it. Nor did I kill another wild dog, nor did I try to spear another elephant.

Ulape would have laughed at me, and others would have laughed, too. Yet this is the way I felt about the animals who had become my friends and those who were not, but in time could be. If Ulape and my father had come back and laughed, and all the others had come back and laughed, still I would have felt the same way, for animals and birds are like people, too, though they do not talk the same or do the same things. Without them the earth would be an unhappy place. (24.18)

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