The heroine of the novel, a twelve-year-old Native American girl who lives on the island of Ghalas-at. When her people decide to migrate to the California mainland, Karana stays behind with her brother, who did not make it to the ship in time. When her brother dies, Karana must survive alone on the island for decades as she waits for rescue. Throughout the story, she matures into a self-reliant young woman while remaining lonely and desperate for human connection.
Karana's six-year-old brother. Ramo is a playful young boy, and Karana feels a deep sense of responsibility for his safety and happiness. When he is accidentally left behind on the island, Karana stays with him.
Karana's father. He negotiates the tribe's disastrous hunting agreement with the Aleuts.
The Russian commander of the otter hunting party. He attempts to swindle Chief Chowig and the natives of Ghalas-at by not paying them to hunt their otter. This disagreement leads to a battle in which most of the natives are killed.
Karana's sister, who is fourteen at the beginning of the novel. She is preparing for marriage when the tribe leaves the island, and Karana often wonders about her life on the mainland.
The kind old man who replaces Chief Chowig as the tribe's leader. He goes to the mainland and finds a place for the tribe to relocate.
The chief who replaces Kimki after Kimki travels to the mainland to find a new home for the tribe.
A young man who serves as the tribe's lookout. Ulape hints that she would like to marry him.
The tribe's medicine man, who can supposedly speak to the dead. He is killed in the battle with the Aleuts.
The gray dog with yellow eyes who leads the wild dog pack early in the novel. Karana believes he comes from the Aleut ship. Although she initially considers him an enemy, she eventually adopts him as a pet.
A young woman who travels with the Aleuts and takes care of their campsite while they hunt. When they return to the island many years after Karana is abandoned, she befriends Karana and gives her gifts.
An otter wounded by the Aleuts. Karana adopts her and nurses her back to health. Initially, Karana thinks the otter is male and names it Mon-a-nee, which means "Little Boy with Large Eyes." It is only when she sees the otter with babies several months later that she realizes it is female. She changes its name to Won-a-nee, which means "Girl with Large Eyes."
An otter wounded by the Aleuts. Karana later realizes that the otter is female, and renames her Won-a-nee, which means "Girl with Large Eyes."
The priest who is able to communicate with Karana when she arrives at the mainland. Karana only briefly mentions him at the end of the novel.
This is Karana's pedestrian name, the one she uses when she does not want to reveal her secret name. It translates to "The Girl with the Long Black Hair."
Tainor and Lurai
The birds that Karana tames and keeps for pets. She later tames their children in the same way.
The dog that Karana adopts after Rontu dies. She assumes he is Rontu's son because they resemble one another. The name means "Son of Rontu."
Island of the Blue Dolphins Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Island of the Blue Dolphins is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Ulape had two boxes of ear-rings, for she was vainer than I, and when she put them into her baskets, she drew a thin mark with blue clay across her nose and cheekbones. The mark meant that she was unmarried.