Julie of the Wolves
by Jean Craighead George
Julie of the Wolves Theme of Language and Communication
In just the first few pages of Julie of the Wolves, it's clear that Miyax won't get far without learning the language of the wolf pack she seeks to join. But this book isn't just about learning the language of the wolves. It's about the power of language itself. Language can help you survive, like it helps Miyax. But it can also give you a deep sense of identity, and this is true for Miyax as well. For one thing, she has her Eskimo roots, which she cherishes by speaking Upik. For another, she has learned English, which is a sign of her ties to the modern world. And of course, there's her growing fluency in wolf language, which helps us understand Miyax as having strong ties to the natural world. So which of these languages is most important? What will be her chosen language in her life to come?
Questions About Language and Communication
- Can you think of places in the novel where language brings people together? And where does language create a distance between people?
- Why do you think Julie enjoys learning English so much when she first gets to Mekoryuk?
- Why does Miyax pretend she doesn't understand English when the hunter Atik and his family speak it to her in Part 3?
- What language do you think Kapugen and Julie will speak when they live together in Kangik – English or Eskimo?
Chew on This
Language is the main source of identity in this novel, which makes Miyax equal parts Eskimo, American, and wolf.
Language isn't a source of identity in the novel; it's just an indication of other cultural influences at work.