Never Cry Wolf Characters
by Farley Mowat

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Themes and Characters

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

In the preface to Never Cry Wolf, Mowat writes that he first intended to grant the wolves only a small part in the book and to focus instead on government bureaucracy, which mismanages and misdirects much of the conservation effort today. Although his book does expose bureaucratic foolishness and lack of vision, its main thrust calls for the protection of wild wolves—both from the unintentional pressures of a developing society and from the intentionally malign influence of self-righteous bureaucrats.

Mowat narrates his own development in the book. Although he suspects at the beginning of his journey that the government employees who send him to the Northwest Territories do not understand the practical elements of living in the far north, Mowat continues to share their misconceptions about wolves. Assigned to determine the wolves' effect on the once large caribou population, Mowat is at first willing to believe that the wolf is the main culprit in the diminishing size of the herds. In the course of Never Cry Wolf, however, Mowat discovers that much of what people commonly believe about wolves and their viciousness is false.

The members of the wolf family serve as important characters in the book, teaching Mowat to question the definitions of "civilized" and "wild." Mowat sees so much "humanness" in these wolves that he replaces their scientific designations with human names: George, Angeline, and Albert. As he comes to discover the structure of the wolf family and the care with which the wolves raise their young pups, he finds bonds of affection and loyalty at the heart of this species.

Mowat discovers as well that the wolves have never been a threat to humans; instead, humans have been the major threat to wolves. Humans have decimated the...

(The entire section is 449 words.)