Study Guide

Island of the Blue Dolphins Isolation

By Scott O'Dell

Isolation

I thought also of the ship. I tried to remember what Matasaip had said to me. For the first time I began to wonder if the ship would ever return. I wondered about this as I pried the shells off the rocks, and I would stop and look fearfully at the empty sea that stretched away father than my eyes could reach. (8.35)

Karana and Ramo are abandoned by their people on the island. The location of the island –surrounded on all sides by miles of wide water – emphasizes how alone they are. It's like they're on <em>Lost</em>.

The thought of being alone on the island while so many suns rose and went slowly back into the sea filled my heart with loneliness. I had not felt so lonely before because I was sure that the ship would return as Matasaip had said it would. Now my hopes were dead. Now I was really alone. I could not eat much, nor could I sleep without dreaming terrible dreams. (10.5)

After Ramo dies, it finally hits Karana's that she is absolutely and completely alone. How does she react? How does she learn to deal with her new loneliness?

I was happy to be home. Everything that I saw- the otter playing in the kelp, the rings of foam around the rocks that guarded the harbor, the gulls flying, the tides moving past the sandspit – filled me with happiness.

I was surprised that I felt this way, for it was only a short time ago that I had stood on this same rock and felt that I could not bear to live here another day. (11.3-4)

When Karana returns from her failed canoe voyage to the mainland, she feels happy to be on the island once again. Gone are here feelings of loneliness. Why might that be? What do the otters and gulls and tides have to do with it?

I did not know how lonely I had been until I had Rontu to talk to. (16.13)

How does Karana's friendship with Rontu keep her from feeling lonely?  Why is talking important for her?

"<em>Wintscha,"</em> she said.

I had not heard words spoken for so long that they sounded strange to me, yet they were good to hear, even though it was an enemy who spoke them. (21.31-32)

Why is Karana happy to hear Tutok speak. Isn't Tutok an enemy Aleut?

Below me, Rontu was running along the cliff, barking at screaming gulls. Pelicans were chattering as they fished the blue water. Far off I could hear the bellow of a sea elephant. But suddenly, as I thought of Tutok, the island seemed very quiet. (22.33)

Why is Karana lonely again? Aren't the animals' noises enough to keep her company?

I often thought of Tutok, but on these days especially I would look off into the north and wish that she were here to see me. I could hear her talking in her strange language and I would make up things to say to her and things for her to say to me. (23.18)

It's only once Tutok is gone that Karana really experiences her loneliness again.

We had many happy times that summer, fishing and going to Tall Rock in our canoe, but more and more now I thought of Tutok and my sister Ulape. Sometimes I would hear their voices in the wind and often, when I was on the sea, in the waves that lapped softly against the canoe. (26.13)

In the end, Karana really wants human companionship and decides to journey to the mainland with the white men.

I came to the mound where my ancestors had sometimes camped in the summer. I thought of them and of the happy times spent in my house on the headland, of my canoe lying unfinished beside the trail. I thought of many things, but stronger was the wish to be where people lived, to hear their voices and their laughter. (28.19)

Karana's loneliness gets the best of her. She wants to leave the island to be with people. The pull of what she needs now is greater the memories of her past on the island.

I shook my head and smiled at him. He spoke again, slowly this time, and though his words sounded the same as before and meant nothing to me, they now seemed sweet. They were the sound of a human voice. There is no sound like this in all the world. (29.12)

Despite her friends in the animal kingdom, Karana values human connection and companionship. The human voice is a powerful instrument.