In Island of the Blue Dolphins, what are Karana's goals?

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

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Island of the Blue Dolphins is a historical children's novel by Scott O'Dell.

Karana, the protagonist, is marooned on an island after her tribe is attacked. Throughout the book, she shows a drive for self-reliance, personal responsibility, and success. Her main goal is to survive until she is rescued, but she gradually recognizes her need for companionship, and turning the island into a proper home becomes a goal as well. When she is attacked by wild dogs, she overcomes her cultural fears:

...I wondered what would happen to me if I went against the law of our tribe which forbade the making of weapons by women... Would the four winds blow in from the four directions of the world and smother me? ... I thought about these things for two days and on the third night when the wild dogs returned to the rock, I made up my mind that no matter what befell my I would make the weapons.
(O'Dell, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Google Books)

This survival instinct drives her actions throughout the book, and enables her to hide when a violent rival tribe lands on her island. She remains hidden from all of them except one young girl, with whom she feels a connection; Karana's loneliness allows her to trust the young girl, but her survival instinct keeps her from revealing herself to the rest of the tribe. At the end, she allows herself to be rescued by an American ship, understanding that she needs other people to be happy.


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