Island of the Blue Dolphins – Literature – Plot

Scott O´Dell´s Island of the Blue Dolphins tells the story of Karana, a girl who lives with her Indian tribe on a tiny island in the Pacific until she is left behind alone on the island at the age of twelve.
It is a typical day in spring on the Island of the Blue dolphins. Karana is gathering some roots with her little brother Ramo at the top of a canyon near a little cove when she suddenly spots a ship approaching the island.
It is an Aleut ship that comes to the island in order to hunt sea otters whose pelts are worth a lot. This is when trouble starts for the tribe. Karana´s tribe has had unpleasant relations with Aleuts in the past when they were forced to hunt for them without payment.
Excited but unsure of what to expect, she watches the negotiation between her father, the Chief of Ghalas-at, and Orloff, who seems to be the leader of the Aleuts. Half of the otters the Aleuts hunt must be given to the tribe of Ghalas-at – this is the bargain.
When the Aleuts are about to leave, Karana´s father insists on the tribe´s rightful share. However, the Aleuts refuse to honor the agreement and the conflict ends in a bloody battle which takes the lives of many men of the tribe including Karana´s father. Only fifteen remain.
Not long after this, a ship arrives to rescue the survivors. On the boat Karana notices her younger brother Ramo is missing and sees him running along the coast with his new spear in his hands. After failing to convince the others to return for her brother, Karana decides to jump overboard and swim to him. From the island, they see the white men and all their remaining tribe disappear.
Henceforth, Karana and her little brother are the only living people on the island and must manage their lives on their own. But they are surrounded by dolphins, sea otters, cormorants, wild dogs, seals and whales. Shortly after this incident, while Ramo is preparing the canoes for fishing, he doesn´t return. Karana finds him later bitten to death by the wild dogs. From now on, she is the only human on the island and realizes that her beloved island also contains real, lurking danger. Initially, she waits for the ship to return for her, but finally after many months, resolves to establish a new home for herself.
Karana, strong and creative as she is, tries to survive without humans. She finds food for herself, by searching for it or by fishing. She builds a home and creates weapons, although this is forbidden for women in her tribe. These tasks define Karana´s day as much as defending herself from wild animals. Finally, her aptitude enables her to tame Rontu, the leader of the wild dogs, and the one who was responsible for the death of her brother. This is the beginning of a heartwarming friendship.
One day a ship reaches the island again. Amongst the people aboard is another native girl, with whom Karana, despite her initial distrust, enjoys meeting and talking, each in her own language. After the ship leaves the island, Karana again is alone with her friends, the animals. After her most faithful friend Ronto dies, she catches his son and tames him. When an earthquake strikes the island, Karana wants to leave; however, she first misses the opportunity when a ship of white men comes to the island. Later, when the ship comes again, she manages to leave the island with those white men. After all these years she comes to know that the ship which rescued her tribe sank on its journey and the entire tribe died. Therefore, Karana´s courage and selflessness to return for her brother is requitedwith many years of a tough, but overall joyful life.