In Island of the Blue Dolphins, what are Karana's hopes and dreams?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Island of the Blue Dolphins is a 1960 Newbury Medal-winning book by Scott O'Dell about a young Indian girl who survives alone on an island.

Karana, the protagonist, is marooned on an island after her tribe is attacked and mostly killed by a competing tribe. Her brother Ramo dies, and she lives alone and becomes self-sufficient. Karana's most powerful hope is that her people will return for her, and her most powerful dream is that she will live among people again. Karana shows strong pragmatism in the face of adversity:

The ship had disappeared.
"When will it come back?" Ramo asked. There were tears in his eyes.
"Soon," I said.
The only thing that made me angry was that my beautiful skirt of yucca fibers, which I had worked on so long and carefully, was ruined.
(O'Dell, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Google Books)

While she domesticates animals and takes on traditionally male tasks, she always hopes for rescue; when the rival tribe lands on her island, she hides, but still yearns for human contact, eventually befriending a young girl from their ship. She cannot bring herself to join them, despite her longing, and is finally rescued by Americans from California. Karana is sad that she will never be with her tribe, but accepts that she is beginning a new life; her "hope" of living with people again is fulfilled.


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