Chapter 10 Summary
Summer is the best time on the Island of the Blue Dolphins, for the weather is good and the wind from the west is mild. Each day, Karana is hopeful she will see a ship on the horizon. Once she sees a small object and grows hopeful, but when water rises from it she knows it is just a whale. The first winter storm crushes her hopes of being rescued, at least for another season, and her heart is filled with loneliness. She had believed Matasaip before, but now her hopes are dead. She does not eat much and her sleep is filled with “terrible dreams.”
One storm is so fierce that she must sleep under the rock, feeding a fire for protection. She sleeps there five nights. The first night the dogs come and circle outside the fire ring. She kills three of them with arrows, though not the leader, and they do not return. On the sixth day the storm ends and Karana goes to the place by the cliffs where the canoes are kept, a place which had been sheltered from the storm. The dried food is still edible, but she has to get fresh water. During the worst days of the storm, she had decided to take a canoe and go to the country to the east.
Before Kimki left the island, he asked the other wise men for advice; she has no one to ask, yet she is not afraid. Her ancestors and others had crossed the sea, and whatever might happen to her on the voyage is less frightening than staying on the island alone, pursued by wild dogs, where everything reminds her of those who are dead or have gone. She chooses the smallest canoe, the one which holds only six people, and she struggles to get it into the water.
The sun is in the west when she begins her journey, and she is able to quickly paddle around the southern part of the island; however, as soon as she rounds that curve the wind picks up and she must battle to make any progress. She perseveres and soon she is in the rolling waves of the open water. All day she watches her island grow smaller; at dusk, she can no longer see The Island of the Blue Dolphins, and for the first time she is afraid. It is so dark the sea and sky look the same until the stars begin to appear. She keeps her eyes fixed on the one which shines green, the one she knows will guide her east. Always to her left she keeps the North Star, the one her tribe calls “the star that does not move.”
The wind dies down, which it always does halfway through the night, so she knows how long it will be before dawn. Now she discovers the canoe is leaking. After bailing out the water with one of the food baskets, she gropes around and discovers a crack as long as her hand and as wide as her finger in the prow of the canoe. She has no black pitch, which is what fills the other gaps in the wood, so she tears off part of her skirt to fill the hole. It seems to work. At dawn there is no wind, and she makes better progress than she did all night. Another night and day might get her to her destination.
But the canoe is leaking again, and this time she sees an even larger crack on the same plank. Now...
(The entire section is 891 words.)