Study Guide

Julie of the Wolves Family

By Jean Craighead George

Family

Any fear Miyax had of the wolves was dispelled by their affection for each other. They were friendly animals and so devoted to Amaroq that she needed only to be accepted by him to be accepted by all. (1.52)

It's clear that the wolves are all about being a loving family. Of course it's a much larger family than Miyax is used to, but hey, it'll have to do.

As his eyes softened, the sweet odor of ambrosia arose from the gland on top of his tail and she was drenched lightly in wolf scent. Miyax was one of the pack. (1.83)

Phew! What started out as a potentially terrifying moment with Amaroq turns out to be one of the most important moments in Miyax's young life. She's done it: she's officially a member of the wolf family.

There was much to learn about her family. (1.93)

Miyax could just as easily say this when she moves in with Martha, or when she goes to live with Daniel, Nusan, and Naka in Barrow. But none of those people are truly her family; only the wolves are.

When Amaroq was but five feet away and she could see each hair on his long fine nose, he gave the grunt-whine. He was calling her! (1.184)

This is a key moment for our girl. Not only has she been accepted into the pack, but they actually want her company. She's in with the in crowd.

The fog thickened and, like an eraser on a blackboard, wiped out Amaroq and Silver and the tip of Kapu's tail. She cuddled closer to Kapu, wondering if Amaroq would hunt tonight. After a long time she decided he would not – his family was content and well fed. Not she, however; two drops of milk were scarcely life-sustaining. (1.199)

Here's a sad reminder of Miyax's real state of affairs. Despite the fact that Amaroq and the other wolves have welcomed her into the pack, she can never truly be one of them. She is completely and utterly <em>human</em>.

Scrambling to her feet she watched the pack run along the horizon, a flowing line of magnificent beasts, all cooperating for the sake of each other, all wholly content – except Jello. He ran head down, low to the ground – in the manner of the lone wolf. (1.256)

Uh oh. A fracture in the wolf family. This is bad for Jello, sure, but it might also be a problem for our girl Miyax, whose position in the wolf pack is by no means solid.

Later, Kapugen's Aunt Martha told her that he had lost his mind the day her mother died. He had grabbed Miyax up and walked out of his fine house in Mekoryuk. He had left his important job as manager of the reindeer herd, and he had left all his possessions. (2.4)

Miyax didn't grow up in the most awesome of family situations. Her mother has died and her father can't quite handle that loss. Nevertheless, Miyax loves her father fiercely, and is as loyal to him as Kapu is to Amaroq.

"Wolves are brotherly," he said. "They love each other, and if you learn to speak to them, they will love you too." (2.14)

Two worlds collide in this one. Kapugen, Miyax's only family, tells her about wolf families, which will later come to shape the course of Miyax's future. It's like reverse-foreshadowing.

Footsteps crunched, the cold air rushed in the door, and there was Martha, Kapugen's aunt. She was thin and her face was pinched. Miyax disliked her immediately, but was spared the necessity of speaking nicely to her, for Martha had words only for Kapugen. (2.29)

Martha's like the awful aunt that no one wants to talk to, but we have to deal with because she's family. Only for Miyax it's worse. She doesn't have to endure a pinched cheek once a year at Christmas. She has to <em>live</em> with her awful aunt.

With those words Julie relaxed, and pushed him out of her mind. He would just be a brother. That was fine. She looked at the little houses surrounded by boats, oil drums, tires, buckets, broken cars, and rags and bags, and happily followed her new parents home. (2.77)

Nusan sure has an interesting idea of what a brother is. From our first meeting of this family, we get the sense that things are going to be a little warped in this household. Our prediction, of course, comes true (they always do!).