Why didn't Karana build her house near the sea elephants in Island of the Blue Dolphins?
When Karana made the decision to build a more permanent home on the island, she narrowed her search based on three criteria. She wanted her home to be protected from wind and weather, near a spring providing fresh water and close to Coral Cove.
She quickly dismissed one, that near her old village of Ghalas-at. She decided against it because she didn't want to live with a constant reminder of her lost people, and it was also very windy there.
This left her with two choices, the headland where she had been staying thus far and another area farther to the west. When she went to investigate the other area she remembered that it was near the lair of the wild dogs, and though she planned to kill them, she didn't want to have to accomplish that task before she could build her house. On a positive note, the spring was more appealing than the one near the headland as it was easier to access, was less brackish and had a better water flow. The location was also suitable as it was close to a rocky cliff that would provide protection from the wind, and allow her to see the north shore and Coral Cove.
The final factor that swayed Karana's decision was the sea elephants. This area was on a cliff above the coast where the sea elephants gathered to fish, take refuge during a storm, and sun themselves on the rocks. The day Karana explored the area, the group of sea elephants was far away due to low tide; however the collection of them made an overwhelming noise of barking, screaming and chattering. Karana stayed to continue her exploration for the remainder of the day and slept there that night too. When the sea elephants' incessant uproar started again early the next morning, Karana made the decision to build her home in the more peaceful setting of the headland.