Monday, September 17, 2012
Julie of the Wolves (1973
I'm finding this one a bit harder to write about. I liked Julie of the Wolves. In some ways it was a female version of Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, in that one lone teen must survive the wilderness with limited tools. But this book has much richer and deeper meaning woven through out.
In the first part of the book, entitled Amaroq the wolf, we first meet Julie, although she prefers her Eskimo name, Miyax. She is half starved, living on the North Slope in Alaska, hoping to receive help from a pack of wolves she befriends. She recalls the time she spent at seal camp with her father, Kapugen, and the things he taught her about nature and surviving. It is very interesting learning about wolf behavior and how she learns to communicate in "wolf," and what she does to survive the harsh climate.
In part two, Miyax the girl, we learn how Miyax came to be alone in the wilderness, relying on wolves. Her mother had died when she was very young. In his grief, Kapugen had retreated with Miyax to seal camp, isolated from civilization (as we know it). But eventually it found him in the form of Aunt Martha, who insisted on Miyax returning with her to go to school. Kapugen arranged a marriage for her, when she came of age at 13, to his partner's son in Barrow. When she found life intolerable with her aunt she accepted the marriage arrangement and flew to Barrow, only to find that the son, Daniel, "has a few problems, but he's a very good boy, and he's a good worker...He will be like a brother to you," says his mother. (p. 92)
For a year all is well, until Daniel gets teased about not being able to "mate" his own wife and a very short try at forcing the issue frightens Miyax so much that she gathers her supplies and flees into the wilderness planning to make her way to San Fransisco, where she has a pen pal who has repeatedly invited her to come live.
The third part of the book, Kapugen the hunter, really talks about not just her father, but about the whole way of life of the Eskimo and the changes overtaking their society. Miyax has to decide whether to remain Miyax the Eskimo girl, or to become Julie.
George, Jean Craighead. Julie of the Wolves. HarperCollins, 1972.