Island of the Blue Dolphins Chapter 27

Instructor: Abigail Walker

Abigail has taught writing and literature at various universities. She has an M.A. In literature from American University and an M.F.A. in English from The University of Iowa.

In Chapter 27 of ''Island of the Blue Dolphins'', Karana decides to do some repair work on another part of the island. While she's there, something unexpected happens that threatens her life.


The summer storms have passed, but now the heat is oppressive. All day, the blistering sun shines down, but, despite the miserable heat, Karana decides to take her canoe out and around the reefs so she can repair some damaged sandpits. She carefully fills the gaps in the sandpits, her eyes protected from the sun's glare by two pieces of wood that she has carved holes in so she can see.

To endure the heat, she stops every so often to take a quick swim in the ocean. Feeling sleepy after one of these swims, she lies down in the sand and drags the canoe on top of her to shade her from the sun. Karana drifts off to sleep--but a noise suddenly wakes her. It is a sound like thunder that seems to be coming from far away.

A Wave

Disturbed by the intensifying noise, Karana gets up and stares at the coastline. The tide has receded farther than it ever has, exposing stones and small reefs that she has never seen. It gives Karana an eerie sensation, as if she were somewhere else.

Now, as the sound seems to be getting louder, she sees an enormous wave coming right toward the island. Panicking, she races from the beach toward higher ground, feeling the earth beneath the sand shaking.

Karana frantically begins climbing a tall bluff. The stones, which are slippery with moss, are hard to hold onto, but she manages to haul herself partway up of the bluff. Here she can see the water rushing furiously below. Then the water rushes away from the island, and there is a strange silence before the water begins rushing back.

Another Wave

Off in the distance, Karana spots another wave that she fears may be even larger than the first. She cannot climb the rocky bluff any higher because it is too steep. Securing herself as best as she can among the slippery rocks, she watches as the two waves--one coming toward shore, the other away--collide near the sandpits. The noise is deafening.

Water rises up and over Karana, but she manages to keep hold of the rocks until the water falls back down. Once again, the silence returns. Karana is grateful to be alive.

She carefully makes her way down from the bluff. It is dark now, and Karana, unable to see well, decides to spend the night close to the bluff. At dawn, she discovers the destruction that the waves have left behind. Sea life of every description has been washed ashore, including 'two small whales…stranded against the rock walls of the cove.'


After walking home, Karana finds her dog Rontu-Aru even more delighted than usual to see her. Exhausted, she falls asleep. But she keeps waking up. The eerie silence has returned, and Karana feels something awful is about to take place.

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