Miyax stared hard at the regal black wolf, hoping to catch his eye. She must somehow tell him that she was starving and ask him for food. This could be done she knew, for her father, an Eskimo hunger had done so. (1.3)
It's clear early on that Miyax admires and respects Amaroq for being a "regal" leader of the wolves. But here, her admiration of her father's survival wisdom comes through as well.
Propped on her elbows with her chin in her fists, she stared at the black wolf, trying to catch his eye. She had chosen him because he was much larger than the others, and because he walked like her father, Kapugen, with his head high and his chest out. The black wolf also possessed wisdom, she had observed. (1.5)
Once again, we see a connection between Miyax's admiration for Amaroq, and her admiration for her father. It almost seems like Amaroq is the wolf-version of Kapugen. Except that Amaroq never lets her down.
He must indeed be their leader for he was clearly the wealthy wolf; that is, wealthy as she had known the meaning of the word on Nunivak Island. There the old Eskimo hunters she had known in her childhood though the riches of life were intelligence, fearlessness, and love. A man with these gifts was rich and was a great spirit who was admired in the same way that the <em>gussaks </em>admired a man with money and goods. (1.49)
Eskimo culture has taught Miyax to admire a certain type of man. But the <em>gussak </em>culture (which, at this point, she still finds alluring) tells her to admire someone quite different.
Amaroq wailed again, stretching his neck until his head was high above the others. They gazed at him affectionately and it was plain to see that he was their great spirit, a royal leader who held his group together with love and wisdom. (1.51)
Seriously, how could you not think this wolf is just the best? He's a leader, and a loving one at that.
She was about to get to her feet and hunt elsewhere, but she remembered that Kapugen never gave up. (1.167)
Her respect and love for Kapugen seem to be what keep Miyax alive on the tundra. In tough times, she can always take a moment remember Kapugen and find some strength to keep on trucking.
<em>Amaroq, wolf, my friend You are my adopted father. My feet shall run because of you. My heart shall beat because of you. And I shall love because of you. </em>(1.228)
Now there's a love song if we've ever heard one. Miyax is right to say that she will be able to run and have a beating heart because of Amaroq. After all, he's kept her alive. But to say that she will love because of him seems to go deeper than typical gratitude.
Naka and Kapugen were on their hands and knees, prancing lightly, moving swiftly. When Naka tapped Kapugen's chin with his head, Kapugen rose to his knees. He threw back his head, then rocked back on his heels. Naka sat up and together they sang the song of the wolves. (2.11)
Kapugen teaches Miyax at a young age to respect the wolves. So it's quite hypocritical, then, that later he hunts them from airplanes.
"But he is wealthy in the Eskimo sense – intelligent, fearless, full of love – and he soon became a leader of Kangik." (3.210)
All of Miyax's dreams are coming true. Her father is still alive, and from the sound of it, he's exactly the wonderful man she remembers. Or is he?
There was so much she could do for this great hunter now; prepare caribou, catch rabbits, pluck birds, and even make tools with water and the freezing air. She would be very useful to him and they would live as they were meant to live – with the cold and the birds and the beasts. (3.229)
One reason Miyax admires her father so much is that, as far as she knows, he stays true to his traditional Eskimo roots. After her time on the tundra, she has learned to stay true to them, too.
Miyax heard no more. It could not be, it could not be. She would not let it be. She instantly buried what she was thinking in the shadows of her mind. (3.260)
This is, we think, the saddest, most devastating part of the novel. Imagine how you would feel if the father you admired so much had killed the adopted father you had grown to love. It's the stuff of soap operas, but that doesn't make it any less tragic or real.