The Blue Lagoon: Book Summary & Characters

Instructor: Karen Wolak

Karen has taught 4-8th grade English/Language Arts and has worked closely with adult learners for several years. M.Ed. in Adult Education.

Henry De Vere Stacpoole's ''The Blue Lagoon'' (1908) tells the tale of two children who come of age while stranded on a tropical island. Let's review a summary of the plot and characters surrounding this fascinating story.

The Blue Lagoon

The idea of being stranded on a deserted island is a beloved theme among storytellers. The success of titles such as The Swiss Family Robinson, Lord of the Flies, and the popular TV series, ''Lost,'' shows that audiences are still captivated by the idea as well. Henry De Vere Stacpoole's 1908 novel, The Blue Lagoon, tells this familiar tale through the eyes of innocent children.

Separated at Sea

Arthur Lestrange is traveling by sea from Boston to San Francisco. His son Dick and niece Emmeline, both only eight-years old, are with him. During the voyage, a fire starts aboard the ship, forcing them to evacuate. In the chaos, Arthur finds himself on a different dinghy, or lifeboat, than the children. The children's lifeboat becomes separated from the rest. While Arthur and much of the ship's crew are rescued, the children are assumed to be lost at sea.

A dinghy is a small boat.
dinghy

Paddy Button, a member of the ship's crew, is in the same dinghy as Dick and Emmeline. They become marooned on a deserted, tropical island. Even though it is uninhabited, it has resources that help them survive. Paddy and the children thrive on the island. They build shelters and gather food. After a few years, they discover an old, abandoned barrel containing rum. Paddy is delighted by this however he overindulges, and dies as a result of alcohol poisoning.

Growing Up

Dick and Emmeline, being young and sheltered, have no prior memory of encountering human death. Terrified at the sight of Paddy's corpse, they flee to another part of the island, leaving many possessions behind. Over the next several years, the children grow into teenagers, slowly piecing together knowledge about life, death, and human nature through their experiences on the island. When they are 15, they have a son, who they name Hannah. Naturally occurring maternal and paternal instincts help them care for the baby.

The island is a tropical paradise.
island

Reunited

One day, the three of them take the dinghy to another part of the island. While Dick collects food, Emmeline and Hannah remain in the boat. Hannah throws one of the oars overboard. Emmeline tries to maneuver the boat back to shore, but she struggles using just one oar against the tide. She calls for Dick, who attempts to save them. As he swims he is pursued by a shark. Dick reaches the boat, and he is able to get in safely. Emmeline is able to fend off the shark with her oar, but she loses the oar in the process. The three of them become stuck out at sea. Without oars, there is no hope of getting back to the island. In the boat is a sprig of berries. Paddy had told them once not to eat these berries, or they would fall asleep and never wake up.

Dick is chased by a shark.
shark

Meanwhile in California, Arthur Lestrange is alive and has never ceased looking for his son and niece. The captain of a whaling ship contacts him and tells him that a member of his whaling crew has come across a box on an island. He presents the box to Lestrange who recognizes it as one of Emmeline's possessions. With Captain Fountain's help, he is able to determine the approximate place where the box was found. Lestrange secures a voyage to that area. When they are nearly there, they spot a dinghy floating in the water; laying in it are a young man, young woman and a child. When Lestrange aska if they are dead, he is told that they are asleep.

Characters in The Blue Lagoon

Dick Lestrange is a boisterous boy with a sense of adventure. He speaks his mind freely and tends to be open with his emotions as well. He becomes a skilled fisherman and gatherer on the island. He never knew his mother, as she died during childbirth.

Emmeline Lestrange is quieter and more introspective than her cousin Dick. One could call her a daydreamer. She is beautiful, with black hair and blue-grey eyes. Emmeline's mother died when she was two-years old. Emmeline lives under the care of her uncle, Arthur Lestrange.

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