The Island of the Blue Dolphins: Novel Summary:chp22-26
Summary – Chapter Twenty Two, Chapter Twenty Three and Chapter Twenty Four
Karana does not take the necklace and sleeps on the headland that night. The next day she hides and watches the cave. Tutok appears and picks up the necklace and puts it down again. She has a drink of spring water and heads off. Karana shouts to her and Tutok stops and Karana runs down and puts the necklace on.
They talk as they point to things and say goodbye when Tutok leaves. Karana has told her her name, but not the secret one. She watches Tutok go then returns to the headland and brings her baskets back. She stays at the cave and the next day Tutok comes again and they exchange more words and laugh and the following day Karana tells her her secret name.
Karana makes her a present of a hair ornament over the next five days and Tutok is pleased with it. She visits Karana many times, ‘and then one morning she did not come’. Karana climbs the rocks and hides as she watches as the Aleut men load the ship. They have left by the next day. At first she is pleased to be able to move about freely, but also thinks of Tutok and of how much she will miss her.
It is related in Chapter Twenty Three that the Aleuts have left many wounded otter behind and she kills some of them to stop their suffering. She finds a young otter that is not too badly hurt and moves it to a sheltered area of water and gives it fish. She calls him Otter for a long time until she decides to call him Mon-a-nee (‘which means Little Boy with Large Eyes’). For three days it is too stormy to catch fish, though, and when she returns he has left.
Chapter Twenty Four begins with reference to how in the spring her tame birds build a nest and have two fledglings. She tames these as well and also helps a young gull by making a splint for its broken leg. She also gathers abalone and collects a supply in case the Aleuts return.
Around this time, she is in her canoe when she comes across a group of otters and wonders if she will see Mon-a-nee, but they all look alike. As she paddles away she notices one of them following her. She holds up a fish and the otter snatches it from her hands. She does not see the otter again for ‘two moons’ and then he suddenly appears with two baby otter swimming behind. Karana throws some fish and Mon-a-nee leaves them for the babies to catch and she realizes Mon-a-nee is their mother and decides to re-name her Won-a-nee, which means Girl with the Large Eyes.
She watches them all summer as they play and feed and after this she never kills another otter. She also decides to never kill other animals such as cormorants, sea elephants or wild dogs. She thinks how others including her sister and father would laugh at this, but she sees the animals as her friends now and thinks of them as people too: ‘Without them the earth would be an unhappy place.’
Analysis – Chapter Twenty Two, Chapter Twenty Three and Chapter Twenty Four
The central significance of the effect of humans on the ecosystem comes to the fore in Chapters Twenty Three and Twenty Four particularly. Apart from Tutok, Karana has only had animals and birds for company and she comes to learn how humans are only as important as these. When she decides to avoid taking part in the unnecessary killing of animals, the moral tone of the novel is heightened. As readers following her story, we are reminded by Karana that one should never be cruel to animals.
This is, however, an adventure story that has earlier thrived on her escapades involving decisions to kill wild dogs and sea elephants. Her change in outlook is seen to be a part of her gradual maturation as she gets older and comes to regard the environment more holistically than she ever has before. It should be noted, though, that this story has allowed her to be as violent as any hunter in the earlier pages, but this allows for authenticity as well as a challenge to patriarchal values.
Summary – Chapter Twenty Five and Chapter Twenty Six
The Aleuts do not return to the Island of the Blue Dolphins, but she watches out for them every summer and keeps on her guard just in case. For many summers after the Aleuts came, the otters leave Coral Grove as they have learned it is a time and place of danger.
One summer they stay at Coral Grove, and this is the summer Rontu dies, and she knows none of these remember the hunters. Until then, she has kept count of ‘all the moons’ since she and her brother were first alone on the island by cutting a mark on a pole. After a long time of doing this, she has only counted the seasons. By the time Rontu dies in the late summer, she has already stopped counting.
During that year he has been more tired and one night he barks to be let out. He sometimes does this and returns in the morning, but this time he does not. She goes out to look for him the next day near dusk and follows his tracks to his former lair. She finds him dying alone at the back of the cave and there are no wounds on him. He is scarcely breathing and only touches her hand once with his tongue. She stays with him as it is too dark to carry him home and talks to him all night.
At dawn, she picks him up and leaves the cave and he is now very light ‘as if something about him had already gone’. She puts him down when he raises his head to look at the seagulls, but he does not bark at them as he usually does. She asks him to, but he does not look at them again. He walks to her and falls at her feet. She puts her hand on his chest and feels his heart beating. It only beats twice, ‘very slowly, loud and hollow like the waves on the beach, and then no more’. She cries his name. She buries him on the headland with flowers and a stick he chased and covers him with pebbles of many colors.
There are strong winds that winter, in Chapter Twenty Six, as well as heavy rains and wild seas and Karana barely leaves her house. The wild dogs come to the headland more now that Rontu is dead and one of them looks like him.
In the spring, she plans to catch him with one of the snares she is making. She catches some of the dogs, but not the one she wants and lets them go. She also catches a red fox and this bites her initially, but becomes tamer and follows her around for abalones. She lets it go in the ravine when it steals her food.
She almost gives up on catching the dog until she remembers the toluache weed that they use to catch fish. It has the effect of making the fish turn on their backs and float. She drops this weed in the spring where the wild dogs drink, but nothing much seems to happen to them. She then remembers xuchal, which is made from ground-up sea shells and wild tobacco. She makes a bowl of this and mixes it in the spring and hides in the brush to watch and wait. They sniff it cautiously and eventually drink the water. After this, they walk in circles and suddenly ‘they all lay down and went to sleep’. She picks up the dog she wants and takes him back to her home. She ties him to the fence and leaves food and water for him. When he wakes up, he howls and howls through the night and is asleep at dawn.
As he lies there asleep, she decides to call him Rontu-Aru, which means son of Rontu. He makes friends with her in a short space of time and they have many happy times that summer. Increasingly, though, she thinks of Tutok and Ulape and sometimes hears their voices on the wind or in the sound of the waves lapping against the canoe.
Analysis – Chapter Twenty Five and Chapter Twenty Six
The death of Rontu marks the end of a period of relative happiness for Karana. Her indomitable spirit is also signalled at this point as she decides to domesticate one of the other dogs that is probably Rontu’s son. As with her other endeavours, she makes numerous attempts before she is successful, but is seen again to not give up (unless she can do no other). By refusing to be beaten by her grief and by taming another animal, we are reminded of the moral necessity of trying one’s best.
There is also a poignancy to these chapters as the death of Rontu and the absence of other human voices are referred to too. This loneliness is made all the more bleak in that she has formed a friendship with Tutok but she must also leave her behind. Without the friendship of animals and birds, she would be completely alone.