Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell

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Chapter 8 Summary

The storm is strong as Karana and Ramo climb the trail, and they take shelter until night falls and the wind subsides. The deserted village looks eerie by moonlight, and there is an odd sound, like running feet. As they get closer, Karana realizes dozens of wild dogs are scavenging through the empty huts. They run away, snarling, when the two humans approach. The dogs must have gorged themselves on the stored food, for there was barely anything left for the children to eat for dinner. They sleep near a fire, and Karana hears the dogs howling nearby all night. In the morning, though, the pack trots back to its lair in a cave at the north end of the island.

Ramo and Karana spend the day gathering food. The wind is still too violent to gather abalone, so the girl gathers gulls eggs and the boy spears a few small fish in a tide pool. He proudly brings his catch to his sister, hoping to make up for the trouble he caused. These, along with some seeds Karana found in the ravine, make a plentiful meal for them; however, she has to cook it on a flat stone because her bowls are at the bottom of the sea. The dogs appear again that night, obviously drawn by the smell of the cooking fish, and their eyes glow in the firelight. They leave at dawn.

The wind has died down, so the pair is able to gather abalone, putting them in a basket woven from seaweed. As they carry the food back to the village, they stop at the cliff and look in the direction the ship went. Ramo wonders if it will come back today, but Karana thinks it may be many days because the country from which it came is far away. The young boy looks at his sister with dark, shining eyes and says he does not care if the ship never comes because he likes being here with her. Tomorrow he plans to go where the canoes are hidden and bring one back to Coral Cove. They can use it for fishing and exploring the island.

When Karana tells him he is too small to move a heavy canoe, he puffs out his chest and reminds her he is the son of Chief Chowig, and he is strong. Suddenly his eyes grow large, and he realizes he is now Chief of Ghalas-at. Karana is willing to help with the ritual of his becoming a man; she will whip him with a switch of nettles and tie him to a red-ant hill. Ramo turns pale as he remembers the rites; she quickly tells him since there are no men to administer the rites, perhaps he can forgo them. He leaves her to decide on a new name; he returns with the name Chief Tanyositlopai. It is a long name and hard to say, but it is his new name.

Karana does not intend for Chief Tanyositlopai to go to the canoes by himself, but in the morning she sees that he must have left in the dark to go by himself. Immediately Karana is afraid of all the ways her brother could hurt himself trying to launch a canoe; however, she reasons that it might be a long time before the ship comes. She should let the boy grow up and become a man who can help her on the island, so she turns around and goes to the cove to wait for him, for what fun is a voyage if no one is there to greet him.

While she waits, Karana searches for mussels and thinks about how to protect it from the wild dogs. She wonders, too, if the ship will ever return. She watches the sea, but there is no ship and there is no Ramo. As the sun grows higher, she begins to “feel...

(The entire section is 1,001 words.)