Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell

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Chapter 28 Summary

The earthquake did little damage. The spring stopped running for several days but is now flowing stronger than ever. The worst is the loss of all the food and weapons Karana had stored in the caves and the loss of the canoe she had been working on and the others hidden under the south cliffs. With the scarcity of wood on the island, the canoes will be the most difficult to replace. On the first fair morning after the event, she goes to look for any wreckage washed up by the storm on the shore.

In the rocks near the island’s southern cliffs, she finds part of a canoe. She digs all morning to extricate it and must then decide whether to dismantle it and take it piece by piece back to Coral Cove (which would take her many days) or rebuild it here and risk another storm washing it away before she has finished it. In the end, she does neither. She floats the wrecked canoe and walks it around to Coral Cove where she drags it to safety beyond the place where the great waves reached.

She does find the canoe she had been working on, but it is inaccessible to her and she has to abandon it. Karana goes back to the southern cliffs and hunts for any loose wood with which she can build another canoe. It is late spring and the weather is often uncomfortable, but she needs the canoe to gather shellfish. Though she no longer thinks about the Aleuts, it makes her uneasy to be trapped on the island without a canoe. The planks are uneven and hard to work with, but they already have the holes bored into them, which will save her much labor. The storm also deposited great strings of the black pitch she needs, something which is usually difficult to find.

In the late spring, after doing the tedious work of shaping the planks, Karana is finally ready to finish the seams. She makes a fire to heat the pitch. It is a windy morning, so she goes to the beach to gather dry seaweed with which to feed her fire. Her arms are full as she begins to walk back to the fire, and she sees banks of gray clouds in the east, the direction from which storms often come this time of year. As she looks at the clouds, she sees something else. Forgetting her arms are full of seaweed, she throws up her hands at the sight of a ship, halfway between the horizon and the shore.

By the time she reaches the headland and looks again, the ship is much closer. It does not have the red sails of the Aleuts, nor does it look like the white man’s ship which she so clearly remembers. She wonders if some other hunters have come to the Island of the Blue Dolphins; if so, she must hide before they find her. If the ship has been sent by...

(The entire section is 769 words.)