Julie of the Wolves
by Jean Craighead George
Character Role Analysis
The Tundra? Civilization? Kapugen?
Here's the thing. We admit it: we're not really sure about this one. After all, how can you have an antagonist when, for most of the story, there's only one person? Nevertheless, we'll toss some ideas at you to see what sticks. Ready?
First of all, Miyax encounters a fair number of unsavory characters in her adventures. There's Jello, the lone wolf, who steals Miyax's food and supplies, and endangers her life. There's her Aunt Martha, who takes her away from her father. There's Daniel, who assaults her after their forced marriage. And there's Kapugen, too, who allows Miyax to be married at the age of thirteen, and ends up disappointing her by giving up his Eskimo traditions.
None of these characters is a friend to Miyax. But they don't present the consistent conflict that a classic antagonist should. The threats they pose, while very real, are temporary; they're not central to the novel. So where else can we look?
At first, it might seem like the tundra itself is the antagonist of the story. After all, at the beginning of the novel, this harsh environment threatens Miyax's very life. But Miyax grows to love the tundra. As Miyax begins to feel the negative effects of civilization, the tundra becomes much more like home.
Which brings us to our last candidate: civilization. Civilization is what kills Amaroq. Civilization is what changes Kapugen. Civilization is what Miyax turns away from. Hmm… sounds like an antagonist to us.
But ultimately, Shmoop's not totally convinced by any of these theories. So tell us, what do you think?