In Island of the Blue Dolphins, what are Karana's strengths and weaknesses?

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

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Scott O'Dell's 1960 book Island of the Blue Dolphins is based on a true story and won the Newbery Medal.

Karana, the young Indian girl who is marooned on an island, shows many traits of strength throughout the book. She learns skills that are normally not taught to women in her tribe, such as hunting and canoe-making, and domesticates animals for protection and company. She becomes entirely self-sufficient, and is able to both live comfortably and hide entirely when a rival tribe visits the island; they leave without ever knowing she was there.

Karana's greatest weakness is her need to live among people. While she is able to subjugate this need for most of her time on the island, she discovers just how lonely she is when the rival tribe visits. Karana befriends a girl from the tribe, not letting anyone else know she exists, and when the tribe leaves, she is overcome with sadness. Karana is able to live alone, but her emotional needs become too much to bear. The need for social contact persists and she finally leaves the island with a passing American ship.


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