The Island of the Blue Dolphins: Novel Summary:chp3-4

Summary – Chapter Three and Chapter Four

The Aleuts hunt in the kelp beds off the shore of the island from dawn until night. They hunt the sea otter for their pelts and Karana describes how these are the most playful animals in the sea. 


The animals are skinned and fleshed on the beach of Coral Grove by two men and in the morning the beach is ‘strewn with carcasses and the waves red with blood’. Some of the villagers count how many have been killed and think of the beads ‘and other things’ the pelts will buy. Karana is angry as she sees the otters as her friends and warns her father there are only 12 left. He laughs and says there are many more in other places and they will come back. She says there will be none left and the hunters are moving round the island. He says the ship is full of pelts and they will be leaving in a week. 


They watch out for signs of the Aleut preparing to leave and two men are sent to make a canoe on the beach and in this way they can warn the others if the Aleuts try to leave without paying their share.


The news comes that the Aleuts are packing their tents in Chapter Four and that Captain Orlov has still not paid up. Karana watches her father talk to Captain Orlov and is able to tell her father is not happy. 


Her father asks that all the chests of beads and spearheads are brought to the shore in exchange for all the pelts. The hunters have to pass her father to get on the ship. There is a stand-off and the narrator cannot tell if her father raises his hand first or if the hunter shoves him as it all happens so quickly. She and her sister scream as they see their father lying on the rocks with blood on his face. 


The men of the village raise their spears and rush forwards. A puff of white smoke comes from the ship and five warriors fall and they lie quietly. Rocks are thrown at the hunters and the two groups of men fight. Some men fall and get up again, some do not get up again and her father is now one of the latter. 


At first, it looks as though the villagers will win but Captain Orlov has rowed to the ship and comes back with more Aleuts. The warriors of the village are forced back and there are only a few left and still they will not give in. The wind blows and Captain Orlov and the Aleut men run back to the boat as a storm is coming. The boat disappears and another puff of smoke comes from it. 


The women run to the dead and injured men. Karana’s father is on the beach and the waves are already washing over him. As she looks at his body, she knows again that he should not have told the captain his secret name.



Analysis – Chapter Three and Chapter Four

Karana’s fear of the intruders is brought to bear here as they kill many of the men of the island. The captain and the Aleut men switch from hunting sea otter to murdering men relatively quickly and in their wake they leave a devastated civilization. These hunters are depicted as savage and in doing this the act of hunting is made parallel to murder. The violence that is readily inflicted on animals for profit is also meted on the male islanders without remorse. 


Profit is seen to be a guiding principle for the captain and the Aleuts and it should also be noted the fight between the men breaks out when Karana’s father realizes his trust has been misplaced. He demands the equal share the villagers were promised, whereas the captain and his men prefer to keep the profits of their hunt and renege on the deal. Monetary gain, hunting and murder are all combined and, therefore, condemned as preferences of those who are morally corrupt.