Saturday, November 1, 2008

Miyax with Wolves

Hey Everyone
I'm happy to get my blog back up and running. This week I've been reading through the book "Julie of the Wolves" by Jean Craighead George. I was interested in this book because it examined the life of a girl in Inuit culture. The Inuit connection with nature and the natural forces which guide their lives was my main point of interest, but I found the book to be much more complex, throwing in issues of young arranged marriages, dominance and interracial communities.

The text begins with Miyax learning to communicate with wolves. She is desperate for food in the arctic and is unsuccessful in her search. She looks to the wolves for guidance because her father has explained to her that wolves are "brotherly" and will "care for you as they care for their own" so long as you learn to communicate with them. However, she is only able to rely on affection to bring her closer to the wolves. The moment is described as "She patted him (the head wolf) under the chin. The signal went off. It sped through his body and triggered emotions of love".

With all of this being said, Miyax was not able to learn the tactics of her father who went away to war and her mother passed many years before. She flashes back to the Americanized Eskimo family which convinced her to marry while her father was away. She escaped her community because she could not stand to be with Daniel, her thirteen-year-old arranged husband who "had driven her to this fate" (10), later this is explained as an attempted rape. With this type of emotional dichotomy present (one which is seen between Miyax, the wolves, Daniel, and her parents), readers are better able to examine the Inuit relations with nature and other humans.

The relationships that this young girl has already experienced are very complex. They examine her initial reactions to companionship, which turns into a deeper examination of relying on other people, not only as a young person but as a girl. All of this appears to lead to the deeper understanding of herself, the wolves and her culture. A large part of this comes from her mentioning the "gussak" who have given her the Americanized name "Julie". This represents everything she detests- it has brought her away from the simple things that she values. She has a pen pal named Amy who lives in San Fransisco who is known for living in that "glittering, white postcard city". She is constantly evaluating herself according to gussak standards and must live with concepts of oppression, even though she lives in a primitive culture which emphasizes the importance of human connection to nature.

The book works with concepts of beauty, takes a critical look at the support systems of different cultures and digs deeper into the lives of young girls. The author of this book actually noticed a girl in the arctic by herself while taking a trip to Alaska with her son. The story was later inspired by and based on a woman named Julia who gave a detailed history of the Eskimo people.

Jill

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