The young adult novel Julie of the Wolves tells the story of Julie/Miyax, a teenage Inuit (“Eskimo”) girl. The author, Jean Craighead George, refers to the protagonist by the Inuit name “Miyax” when the young character is out in the natural world and by the Western name “Julie” when she is back in the civilized world. Julie’s story begins when she runs away from her home in Alaska and attempts to connect with a pen pal in California. During her escape, the teenager loses her way in the Alaskan tundra. Desperate to survive, she decides to join a pack of wolves led by the alpha wolf Amaroq. She learns their mannerisms and lives with them until the nomadic nature of the animals propels the wolves to travel on to new lands.
The first coincidence in the novel pertains to that of a nomadic versus a settled lifestyle. Julie lived with her father, Kapugen, in a rural camp. Government mandates required Julie to attend school in a town. During her studies, Julie’s father disappears at sea. Following this unfortunate incident, Julie moves to Barrow to live with friends of her father, who arrange a marriage between Julie and their young son. It is from this abusive home that Julie escapes into nature and returns to her roots as Miyax out on the tundra.
However, the protagonist seems to long for a settled lifestyle and the security that comes with this. She wishes to be “Julie” with the wolves, a member of the pack, but she is eventually abandoned as the nomadic wolves follow their natural instincts. Julie has no choice but to fend for herself. At this point, she decides to continue in her journey to California. Continually searching for security, Julie turns to animals for companionship, befriending a bird that she names “Tornait.”
The second coincidence in the novel occurs as Julie encounters members of civilization out on the tundra, but civilization ends up bringing devastation rather than sustenance. Out in the wild, hunting season has started. During Julie’s struggle for survival by herself on the tundra, the wolves have lurked nearby, keeping an eye on the young girl. One day, hunters shoot the alpha wolf, Amaroq, robbing Julie of her main protector. Julie later encounters a hunter who tells the young girl that her father did not die at sea and is alive in his home village.
The third coincidence in the novel lies in the changing nature of Julie’s guardian. During her early years, Julie’s father encouraged the girl’s appreciation for a rustic lifestyle. After she believes Kapugen to be lost at sea, Julie’s journey eventually leads her to seek out a guardian on the tundra in the form of Amaroq. Hunters are responsible for the death of Amaroq, just as another hunter reveals to Julie that her original guardian is still alive. When Julie returns to her father’s village near the end of the novel, she discovers that her father has changed; he no longer lives as an Inuit but has adopted a Western lifestyle and hunts from planes—as did the hunters who killed Amaroq.