PART II: MIYAX, THE GIRL
In the second of the chapter summaries of the Julie of the Wolves book, the wolves are gone, and Miyax gets lost in her memories. Her mother died when Miyax was four years old. In his grief, Kapugen took her from the Mekoryuk, the town they lived in. He left his fine house and well-paying job. Kapugen and Miyax walked all the way to seal camp and lived as Eskimos lived in the past. Kapugen taught Miyax about hunting and fishing and the old ways. They spoke Eskimo.
But in the summer, visitors from Mekoryuk came to seal camp to hunt and fish themselves. Everyone spoke English and her father was very busy. The visitors called her father by his English name, Charlie Edwards. They called Miyax Julie. Her mother had called her Julie, so she didn’t mind until Kapugen called her Julie. She stomped her foot and insisted he call her Miyax, her Eskimo name.
When Miyax was nine years old, her Aunt Martha came to take her back to Mekoryuk because the law said she must go to school. Kapugen was sad, but he had no choice. But, he told her, he would make arrangements for her to marry the son of his friend, Naka. If she was unhappy in Mekoryuk, she could leave and marry Naka’s son, Daniel, when she became a woman at age 13. Naka was an “old-time Eskimo" like Kapugen and believed in the old ways.
Miyax became Julie and lived with Aunt Martha. One day, Aunt Martha told her Kapugen had gone seal hunting and had not come back. His kayak had washed up on shore. Julie grieved and adjusted to her new life. She realized her life at seal camp had been a strange one compared to most Eskimos. Her schoolmates sometimes made fun of her. But a white man from San Francisco asked her if she would be a pen pal to his daughter Amy. Julie looked forward to Amy’s letters and dreamed of visiting her in California.
Julie enjoyed school and learning. She made new friends, but life with Aunt Martha was difficult. She was easily irritated and nagged Julie. She wouldn’t let Julie go out with her friends. One day, a man came to the door and said Naka had written and wanted Julie to come marry his son, now that she was 13. Aunt Martha didn’t like it, but Julie wanted to go. She flew in an airplane to Barrow, where Naka lived with his family. There, Julie met Daniel, the boy she was to marry. She knew immediately “from his grin and dull eyes" that something was not right. She was worried, but Nusan, Naka’s wife, told her Daniel would be like a brother to her and she relaxed. Julie and Daniel married the next day, but they did not live as husband and wife.
Julie settled into her life. She made a friend named Pearl. She helped Nusan sew parkas and mittens for tourists. She did not see Daniel very much over the summer, but one day when she was home alone Daniel came home and said the other boys laughed at him because he couldn’t “mate" his wife. Daniel attacked her, trying to mate with her, but couldn't. He ran out of the house. Julie decided she must leave immediately. Pearl gave her a week’s worth of food and supplies for her walk across the tundra on her way to Point Hope and San Francisco.
1. Why do you think Julie looked forward to Amy’s letters?
2. What does San Francisco represent to Julie?
3. What advice does Julie remember from her father after Daniel attacks her?