Study Guide

Julie of the Wolves Fear

By Jean Craighead George

Fear

Her hands trembled and her heartbeat quickened, for she was frightened, not so much of the wolves, who were shy and many harpoon-shots away, but because of her desperate predicament. (1.2)

Well, we know one thing, Miyax is afraid of starving to death. Frankly, that seems like a good fear to have, doesn't it?

The cold chill of fear ran up Miyax's spine – the wolves would soon depart! Then what would she do? […]

Her hands trembled and she pressed them together to make them stop, for Kapugen had taught her that fear can so cripple a person that he cannot think or act. Already she was too scared to crawl. (1.159-60)

Kapugen's certainly got this one right. Fear does totally paralyze a person, and that doesn't help anyone.

"Change your ways when fear seizes," he had said, "for it usually means you are doing something wrong." (1.161)

We don't know about you, but Shmoop isn't too sure about this second part of his teaching. It seems like he's saying fear is a person's fault, and not the fault of whatever is causing that fear. That doesn't quite seem fair.

"Ayi!" She was disgusted by her fears. She kicked a stone to change something, since she could not change what she was doing, as Kapugen advised. (3.39)

Here's where Kapugen's teaching totally falls flat. Miyax can't change what she's doing, because she's not doing anything at all. So then what exactly is she supposed to do?

She lay very still wondering how long it would take for life to leave her. (3.44)

This is a terrifying moment, but our girl manages to remain very, very calm. Is that courage? Or is she merely paralyzed by the terror of death?

She was not afraid. Singing her Amaroq song, she gathered grass and rolled it into cylinders. (3.55-56)

Now it's not changing her behavior that takes away fear, as Kapugen suggests. It's singing a song to her adopted father that brings her solace and comfort.

Miyax was trembling. She had not realized the size and ferocity of the dark bear if the North […] Miyax wiped a bead of perspiration from her forehead. Had he come upon her tent, with one curious sweep of his paw he would have snuffed out her life while she slept. (3.98)

For all her bravery and success at surviving, Miyax's life is still quite fragile. Nothing like a run-in with a giant grizzly to remind a girl that life is short.

Miyax was worried. The oil drum she had seen when the skua flew over marked the beginning of civilization and the end of the wilderness. She must warn her pack of the danger ahead. (3.102)

In this moment, Miyax is way more afraid for the wolves than she is for herself. Did you notice how the closer she gets to civilization, the more fear she feels?

He leaped, dodged, and headed for the oil drum. His wide eyes and open mouth told Miyax he was afraid for the first time in his life. (3.136)

Amaroq, the great wolf, afraid? Surely she jests! But she doesn't, because the plane is one creature Amaroq can't take down in the hunt. Suddenly the hunter becomes the hunted and everything changes forever.

He had been dead to her, for so long that she was almost frightened by the knowledge that he lived. Yet she loved each cold chill that told her it was true. (3.216)

Is it possible to be afraid of something that makes you happy? Miyax loves the fear she feels because it means that something wonderful is true. But that something wonderful just might change her life forever, and that's a scary thought.