Island of the Blue Dolphins Chapter 21 Summary
by Scott O'Dell

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Chapter 21 Summary

The first night the Aleuts are on the island, Karana leaves her new home but leaves Rontu behind, since he would be sure to smell out any dogs the Aleuts might have brought. The hunters’ campfires are bright against the dark of the mesa, the same place they camped last time—and less than half a league from her cave. She considers moving to another part of the island. She is not afraid the men will see her, as they hunt all day; it is the girl she is afraid will see her. She stands on the rock until the fires die. After considering all her options, she decides to stay in the ravine.

Karana goes back to the cave and stays there until the next full moon and she has little food left. She and Rontu climbed to the headland and she sees three of the whale ribs have been taken from her fence. When the tide is low, she fills a basket with sea water and abalones and they return to the cave before dawn. The sea water helps keep the abalones fresh, but the next night she has to find food it is too dark to go to the reef. Instead she gathers roots every morning until the next full moon, when she is able to go back to the reef for abalones.

In all of her journeying, she never sees an Aleut and the girl does not come near her cave, though her footprints are at the bottom of the ravine where she has obviously been digging for roots. The Aleuts have no dog with them. These are long, inactive days for both girl and dog, though Rontu does learn to be patient. It is dark in the cave, so Karana uses the tiny fish she had dried to make light as she begins to make her cormorant skirt. It is much more challenging to sew with skins than with yucca fibers. It is a beautiful skirt, but it takes her more days to make than she has fish for light, so she begins working on it during the day.

Though Karana has twice seen footprints near the ravine, she has begun to feel safe. The winter storms will soon be here, and the Aleuts will leave before another moon has gone. She has not seen her skirt in the daylight, and she is quite proud of how it looks. “It is more beautiful than she had thought it would be,” and she is nearly giddy in her joy. Karana is standing in the sunlight, holding the shimmering skirt to her waist, when Rontu suddenly leaps to his feet. She hears steps coming from the spring, and as she turns around, Karana sees a girl looking down at her from the brush.

Her spear is in easy reach and the girl is close enough for her to hit easily; she does not know why but she does not throw it, for the girl is an Aleut and an enemy of the Ghalas-at people. She says something to Rontu, and though the hair on his neck rises, he walks to her and allows her to touch him. The girl motions that Rontu is hers; Karana cries out and shakes her head before she picks up her spear. The girl starts to turn, apparently to flee, then gestures that Rontu is now Karana’s. The native girl does not trust the Aleut.

The girl points to herself and says, “Tutok.” Karana does not say her name and calls Rontu. He comes back. The girl looks at them and smiles. Tutok is older than Karan but not as tall. When she smiles, Karana sees her teeth are...

(The entire section is 939 words.)