Julie of the Wolves
by Jean Craighead George
Analysis: Writing Style
Long Paragraphs, Short Sentences
A solo life on the tundra doesn't make for a lot of dialogue. You know what it does make for? Long, meandering paragraphs filled with beautiful images and detailed action. In fact, it seems the less there is going on, the longer the paragraph, which makes a strange amount of sense.
Think about it. Short paragraphs create suspense and drama, like the scene in which Amaroq is shot by a hunter. We find out about his fate with a paragraph containing only three words: "He was dead" (3.134). But for much of the book, despite the fact that it's an adventure, things aren't all that exciting. Miyax sleeps and eats and walks and sleeps some more. Then she walks. Then she sleeps. Then she eats. It goes on and on.
You'd be forgiven for thinking this all sounds totally boring. But it's not. Because Jean Craighead George fills her long paragraphs with delightful details, and this makes the slow time pass much more quickly.
She also manages to spice things up a bit with her short, direct sentences. We never get lost in her lengthy descriptions because they're broken up into sentences that get right to the point. She just gives it to us straight, and lets all the awesome details themselves stand on their own two feet.
Just take a look at the passage in Part 1, which describes Miyax's first successful direct encounter with Amaroq. We won't reproduce it here, because it's quite lengthy (trust us, those paragraphs are long), but you can find it in your book at 1.80-83. George gives us detail after detail so we know exactly what's happening at every moment. But in the midst of all this, she tosses us one short sentence that contains everything we need to know: "The signal went off" (1.82).
What a powerful sentence. Just four words, and we know that Miyax is in; Amaroq has accepted her because she knows the right things to say in wolf language, and from this moment on, Miyax has a chance at survival. It's a key moment in the novel, and George's writing style helps hammer that home for us.