Island of the Blue Dolphins – Literature – Setting

The Island of the Blue Dolphins
is two miles long and one mile wide. Its shape looks like a dolphin lying on its side, with its tail pointing to the east and its nose pointing to the west.
It has rocky ledges and reefs along the shore and a kelp bed encloses the island from three sides. The name of the island derives either from its shape or from the fact that many dolphins live in the sea surrounding the island.
Heavy winds blow on the island, which explains why the hills in the middle of the island are polished smooth and trees are only small and twisted to resist the strong winds. There are mainly bushes and yucca plants growing on the island.
Far off the east coast of the Island of the Blue Dolphins lies another island, called Santa Catalina
This is where the tribe thought about fleeing to after the heavy fights with the Aleuts, decides to stay at Ghalas-at, though.

Many creatures live on and around the island. Dolphins and sea-elephants swim in the sea, birds like sea gulls and cormorants fly in the sky, pelicans and otters swim in the shallow waters, abalones and other shellfish lying along the cliffs and wild dogs stray across the island.

The village of Ghalas-at, where Karana and her tribe live at the beginning of the story, is placed on the eastern part of the island on a small mesa. There the tribe lives in huts beneath a fire pit and a spring. About half a mile to the north there is another spring. This is the place where the Aleuts settle when they come to hunt otters on the island. A trail winds down from the village to the shore where Coral Cove is located. This trail forms a canyon with twisted trees.
Coral Cove is described as a little harbor near the village, whose entrance is guarded by two rocks and where ships, even though seldomly, arrive and leave.
When Karana burns the village down, she arranges herself another home which is located on the headland about half a mile west of Coral Cove. By doing this, she tries to set her old life an end, which reminds her steadily of her family and evokes feelings of deep loneliness. By physically extinguishing the village, she clears the way for starting a new life on the island. This place consists of two trees and a big rock where she hides when the wild dogs sniff around her food. Furthermore, there is a ravine located nearby, in which spring water flows down. It is also possible for Karana to watch Coral Cove from that place.
After her failed attempt to sail west towards the mainland, she builds herself another home in the headland less than a mile west of her old home. There she likes the spring better; however, it is near the cave where the wild dogs live. For the first time she builds her own house and installs a fence around it. The face of a rock is the back of her house.

Moreover, there are a few caves worth mentioning. One is the Sea Cave, close to her house on the shore. It has a narrow opening but is much wider inside and has a few rooms. There she hides when the Aleuts come to hunt sea otters again, bringing Tutok with them. This cave is emotionally significant for Karana as it provides a place where she feels safe and can take refuge whenever she feels like doing so. Therefore, the Sea Cave can be equalized with the old village of Ghalas-at, providing her a safe home and haven.
Another important cave is the Black Cave. It is located on the south of the island next to the place the canoes are stored. In this cave she believes to have found the skeletons of her ancestors, so she calls it Black Cave and swears to never visit this place again. By swearing this, she protects herself emotionally from asking herself questions like: What happened to my tribe? What if they didn´t reach the mainland? And what does this mean for me? When there is nobody alive anymore, am I then not getting saved someday? Will I have to spend the rest of my life alone on the island? With her decision to never return to the Black Cave again, she simply suppresses these uncomfortable thoughts what saves her emotionally.