Book Reviews and Highlights

Island of the Blue Dolphins

Scott O'Dell

  • Children's Fiction
  • Fiction
  • Historical
  • Young Adult Fiction
  • Whatever the circumstances, this was the moment when an unnamed woman became the Lone Woman of San Nicolas. She remained on the island alone for eighteen years. (If, indeed, she had a child, it did not survive.)
  • Introduction | Page: 57
  • The wild woman who was found on the island of San Nicolas about 70 miles from the coast, west of Santa Barbara, is now at the latter place and is looked upon as a curiosity. It is stated she has been some 18 to 20 years alone on the island. She existed on shell fish and the fat of the seal, and dressed in the skins and feathers of wild ducks, which she sewed together with sinews of the seal. She cannot speak any known language, is good- looking and about middle age. She seems to be contented in her new home among the good people of Santa Barbara.
  • Introduction | Page: 61
  • I had never seen a Russian before, but my father had told me about them, and I wondered, seeing the way he stood with his feet set apart and his fists on his hips and looked at the little harbor as though it already belonged to him, if he were one of those men from the north whom our people feared.
  • 1 | Page: 5
  • But we shall not profit if we try to befriend them. They are people who do not understand friendship.
  • 2 | Page: 10
  • “You are hunters,” my father said. “Go and hunt your own fish if you are tired of what you are now eating. I have my people to think of.”“Captain Orlov will hear that you refuse to share the fish.”“Yes, tell him,” my father said. “But also why we refuse.”
  • 2 | Page: 14
  • Two men, who also sharpened the spears, did this work, laboring far into the night by the light of seaweed fires. In the morning the beach would be strewn with carcasses, and the waves red with blood.
  • 3 | Page: 16
  • Would he pay us for the otter he had slain or would he try to sneak away in the night? Would our men have to fight for our rightful share?
  • 3 | Page: 18
  • Captain Orlov had not paid my father for the otter he had killed.
  • 4 | Page: 19
  • I DO NOT remember much of this time, except that many suns rose and set.
  • 9 | Page: 49
  • The thought of being alone on the island while so many suns rose from the sea and went slowly back into the sea filled my heart with loneliness.
  • 10 | Page: 60
  • I crawled behind a big rock near the young bull. I then got to my feet and fitted an arrow to the bow, although I suddenly remembered my father’s warning that, because I was a woman, the bow would break.
  • 13 | Page: 82
  • While I stood there behind the rock, not knowing what to do, again aware of my father’s warning that a bow in the hands of a woman would always break in a time of danger, the animal began to move toward the shore.
  • 13 | Page: 83
  • Large devilfish are dangerous if you are in the sea, for their arms are as long as a man, and they can quickly wrap them around you. They also have a big mouth and a sharp beak where their arms join their head. This one was the largest I had ever seen.
  • 16 | Page: 103
  • During this time, I made myself another dress, but most of the days I spent fashioning a spear to catch the giant devilfish.
  • 17 | Page: 105
  • Blue dolphins were leaping beyond the kelp beds. In the kelp otter were playing at the games they never tire of. And around me everywhere the gulls were fishing for scallops, which were numerous that summer.
  • 19 | Page: 117
  • There, swimming in the clear water, was a devilfish. It was the same one I had been hunting for. It was the giant!
  • 19 | Page: 118
  • Seldom did you see any devilfish here, for they like deep places, and the water along this part of the reef is shallow.
  • 19 | Page: 118
  • The giant had not moved. He was floating just below the surface of the water and I could plainly see his eyes. They were the size of small stones and stood out from his head, with black rims and gold centers and in the centers a black spot, like the eyes of a spirit I had once seen on a night that rain fell and lightning forked in the sky.
  • 19 | Page: 118
  • The devilfish does not swim with fins or flippers, like other things in the sea. He takes water in through the hole in the front of his body and pushes the water out behind through two slits. When he is swimming slowly you can see these two streams trailing out, but only then. When he moves fast, you can see nothing except a streak in the water.
  • 19 | Page: 120
  • Devilfish are only dangerous when in the water where they can fasten themselves to you with their long arms. These arms have rows of suckers underneath them and they can drag you under and hold you there until you drown. But even on land the devilfish can injure you, for he is strong and does not die quickly.
  • 19 | Page: 122
  • The gold eyes with their black rims were fixed on me.
  • 19 | Page: 123
  • I drove the knife down into his body and as I did this I was suddenly covered, or so it seemed, with a countless number of leeches, sucking at my skin.
  • 19 | Page: 123
  • After that summer, after being friends with Won-a-nee and her young, I never killed another otter. I had an otter cape for my shoulders, which I used until it wore out, but never again did I make a new one. Nor did I ever kill another cormorant for its beautiful feathers, though they have long, thin necks and make ugly sounds when they talk to each other. Nor did I kill seals for their sinews, using instead kelp to bind the things that needed it. Nor did I kill another wild dog, nor did I try to spear another sea elephant.
  • 24 | Page: 156
  • If Ulape and my father had come back and laughed, and all the others had come back and laughed, still I would have felt the same way, for animals and birds are like people, too, though they do not talk the same or do the same things. Without them the earth would be an unhappy place.
  • 24 | Page: 156
  • The earth seemed to be holding its breath, as though it were waiting for something terrible to happen.
  • 27 | Page: 169
  • I thought of many things, but stronger was the wish to be where people lived, to hear their voices and their laughter.
  • 28 | Page: 175
  • He spoke again, slowly this time, and though his words sounded the same as before and meant nothing to me, they now seemed sweet. They were the sound of a human voice. There is no sound like this in all the world.
  • 29 | Page: 178
  • For a long time I stood and looked back at the Island of the Blue Dolphins. The last thing I saw of it was the high headland. I thought of Rontu lying there beneath the stones of many colors, and of Won-a-nee, wherever she was, and the little red fox that would scratch in vain at my fence, and my canoe hidden in the cave, and of all the happy days.
  • 29 | Page: 181
  • Dolphins rose out of the sea and swam before the ship. They swam for many leagues in the morning through the bright water, weaving their foamy patterns.
  • 29 | Page: 181
  • THE ISLAND called in this book the Island of the Blue Dolphins was first settled by Indians in about 2000 B.C., but it was not discovered by white men until 1602.
  • Author’s Note | Page: 182
  • The girl Robinson Crusoe whose story I have attempted to re-create actually lived alone upon this island from 1835 to 1853, and is known to history as The Lost Woman of San Nicolas.
  • Author’s Note | Page: 182
  • From records left by Captain Nidever we know that he found her eighteen years later, alone with a dog in a crude house on the headland, dressed in a skirt of cormorant feathers.
  • Author’s Note | Page: 183
  • The Indians of Ghalas-at had long since disappeared. The Lost Woman of San Nicolas is buried on a hill near the Santa Barbara Mission. Her skirt of green cormorant feathers was sent to Rome.
  • Author’s Note | Page: 183