Themes and Characters

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The most important characters in the novel are Julie herself and the wolves— four adults and five puppies—who serve as her companions on the tundra. Her father, Kapugen, is present for the most part only in her imagination; through most of the story she believes him to be dead. The other human characters— Daniel, the mentally disabled boy to whom she is married, and her stepmother, Martha—are minor characters whom she leaves behind.

Julie is a thirteen-year-old Eskimo girl. Her mother died when she was very young, and her father, Kapugen, overwhelmed by grief, left the village, taking his little daughter with him into the wilderness. There he taught her the old Eskimo way of life. Kapugen's lessons become the key to Julie's survival on the tundra. She is patient, intelligent, observant, and self-reliant. Although she is frightened by being lost, she pushes away her fear and husbands her resources, both material and spiritual.

Amaroq (the word means "wolf" in the Eskimo language) is a royal black wolf and the leader of the pack that Julie befriends. Fearless of enemies and protective of his family, Amaroq becomes, in Julie's imagination, almost a surrogate father figure. The other adults in the pack are Amaroq's beautiful mate Silver, who is loving and respectful; Nails, a gray wolf; and Jello, the villain of the piece and low dog in the pack. Jello babysits the pups while the other adults go off to hunt, and is the last to eat when...

(The entire section is 569 words.)