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In Scott O'Dell's Island of the Blue Dolphins, Karanas is a young girl of a tribe that lives on an island they call Ghalas-at (the Island of the Blue Dolphins) with her family, including her brother:
My brother Ramo was only a little boy half my age, which was twelve. He was small for one who had lived so many suns and moons, but quick as a cricket. Also foolish as a cricket when he was excited.
During talks between a Russian captain and members of a Native American tribe called the Aleuts, the leaders of the island—including her father—allow the visitors to hunt in exchange for valuables and iron spearheads. An agreement is reached.
When the hunting is done, the visitors refuse to pay the agreed upon amount and a fight breaks out. Karanas' father is killed, but she and her brother Ramo (and others) survive.
That night was the most terrible time in all the memory of Ghalas-at. When the fateful day had dawned, the tribe numbered forty-two men, counting those who were too old to fight. When night came and the women had carried back to the village those who had died...there remained only fifteen. Of these, seven were old men.
Ultimately, the new leader of Karanas' people decides they must move to another place and he leaves, promising to return. One day a ship sent by this man (Kimki) does arrive, but Ramo forgets something on the island. Rather than leave him there alone, she jumps overboard and they live on the island alone. They have to work hard to eat. They also have to contend with a pack of wild, dangerous dogs.
While we ate beside a small fire I could hear the dogs on the hill not far away, and through the night their howls came to me on the wind.
Before long, Ramo, who is still very young but believes he is capable of doing things he does not have the experience for, leaves the camp alone. He does not return. Karanas searches and finds her brother's body, killed by wild dogs. From now on, she must find her own way.
This is basically Karanas' history. From this moment on, Karanas is responsible for herself. She fights off the dogs and wounds one. Finding it later almost dead, she cares for it and they become friends—she calls it Rontu. It is good for Karanas to have a companion. She makes friends with some other animals on the island, and builds a home for herself. The Aleuts return and Karanas meets a young girl from the tribe who she becomes friends with: Tutok. The girl stays for some time, but eventually the Aleuts leave, taking Tutok with them. Karanas will remain many years on the island. She will lose Rontu, but will adopt one of his litter, training him and naming him Rontu-Aru.
Karanas spends many years alone on the island except for her animal companions. When a ship does arrive some time later, Karanas runs from the man that calls her from the ship's canoe. For two years she thinks about that day and that voice:
Every day of the spring and summer since then, she has gone to the headland and watched—always at dawn and at dusk.
Finally a ship arrives again. Three men find her house, with the smoke of the fire rising into the sky. The man in a grey robe makes a sign similar to the one hanging on his beads at his waist. The men speak to her and she wants to laugh because they make...
...the strangest sounds she has ever heard.
The somehow communicate. Karanas will leave with the men. She takes Rontu-Aru, a pair of caged birds, and days later she collects her things and leaves the island for good.
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