Julie of the Wolves

by Jean George

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Discussion Topic

Julie’s childhood memories and locations in Julie of the Wolves

Summary:

Julie’s childhood memories and locations in Julie of the Wolves include her early years in a traditional Eskimo village, the tundra where she learns survival skills from her father, and the town of Mekoryuk where she attends school. These settings shape her identity and influence her journey as she navigates between traditional and modern worlds.

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Why does Julie have good childhood memories in Julie of the Wolves?

In chapter 2 of Julie of the Wolves, we learn all about Julie's childhood. Even though her mother died when she was very young, Julie has fond memories of her earliest years. This is mostly because of her caring and loving father, Kapugen.

Kapugen included Julie, also known as Miyax, in almost everything. He took her to the seal camp on the frozen shore of the Arctic Ocean where they lived together in a driftwood house. Every night, other men would come, and they would sit and talk around the fire. Julie would even join her father on his seal hunts. They would ride out together in his kayak, and Julie would ride on her father's back, wrapped in his parka for warmth. Julie loved this time spent with her father more than any other time in her life. In the spring, she joined Kapugen on his whale hunts, another fond memory of father-daughter bonding.

Julie also has good memories of the Bladder Feast. This was a vibrant celebration of dancing and storytelling. Her father's friends and a shaman woman take part in this festival and, although moments of it frightened her, she remembers it as a lively and happy time.

Julie also recalls learning about animal spirits. Kapugen tells her about the wolves he once knew. He tells her that respecting the wolves and speaking their language will create a bond between humans and the animals. This certainly comes in handy for Julie later in the story.

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Where did the character Julie spend her childhood in Julie of the Wolves?

This is not really a fair question because Julie is still technically a child throughout the entire book.  In fact, Julie is forced into an arranged marriage once she turns thirteen and experiences all of her adventures with the wolves during this same year.  However, because of the way your question is worded, I assume you mean Julie's very early childhood.  Therefore, Julie spends most of her childhood in or near the Alaskan village of Mekoryuk.

Before Julie is four years old, she has both of her parents to care for her.  Her father has a "regular" job in Mekoryuk village, and the family is fairly happy.  After Julie turns four, her mother dies.  This changes everything.  In his grief, Julie's father, Kapugen, abandons all of their material goods and moves them to a "seal camp" near Mekoryuk in a "little house of driftwood, not far from the beach."  It is here, near Mekoryuk at the seal camp that Julie's life is "infinitely good" because she is learning the "old ways" of the Eskimos in harmony with nature.  

Julie's idyllic life with her father is cut short when Aunt Martha appears.  Martha complains that Julie should be in school.  Therefore, Julie is taken back into the village of Mekoryuk to live with her aunt.  Although Julie enjoys school, she is unhappy with the care of her stern Aunt Martha.  Therefore, when the opportunity arises to escape that situation through an arranged marriage (when Julie turns thirteen), Julie feels compelled to choose that route.

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