Study Guide

Island of the Blue Dolphins Chapter 17

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Chapter 17

  • Storms come down on the island. Karana busies herself by making a new dress and, more importantly, a new spear to get that devilfish.
  • The spear is made with one of the sea elephant teeth, and has a nifty ring and string on the end, so that when the target is speared, the head comes off and you can pull in your kill with the string.  No, we didn't like visualizing that one either.
  • Spring comes and Karana sets out to hunt the devilfish again. Rontu doesn't go with her, as she had let him out of the fence. Apparently the other dogs had been sniffing around as if they had a score to settle.
  • Karana's hunting is a bit lonely without Rontu, though. She wonders if he'll rejoin the other dogs. She knows she could never hurt him now that they're friends, no matter whose side he joins.
  • Karana stashes the canoe in the cave (it's Aleut season, after all) after having no luck trying to catch the devilfish and heads home.
  • As she's out walking, she hears the sound of dogs fighting. After following the tracks, she finds Rontu on top of a mound surrounded by a half-circle of the wild dogs. They've been fighting. And now there's blood.
  • Karana thinks about using her bow and arrow a couple of times, but decides against it. "If I stopped it," she tells us, "they would surely fight again, perhaps at some other place less favorable to him" (17.19).
  • Rontu fights two dogs: one who's the new leader, plus another dog. Rontu fakes out the other two dogs by pretending to lick his wounds. He then goes for one of the dog's forelegs.
  • Though he injures one, the second dog attacks his throat and he goes down. Rontu crouches on the ground and again fakes out the dog. He goes for the dog's throat as the attacker comes on. They roll around and fight.
  • Eventually, Rontu wins the fight . He walks to the top of the mound and howls. Karana doesn't understand what the howl means, but the dogs never bother Rontu again.
  • The wild dogs split into two packs and never return to the headland.

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