Julie of the Wolves – Literature – Genre

Julie of the Wolves is a multi-genre novel. In brief, it is an adventure story, a story of initiation and a pastoral story.

The fact that Julie escapes from her family-in-law, has to trek through the Alaskan wilderness on her own, and is eventually accompanied by a pack of wolves, makes the story an adventure story because Julie struggles to survive.

The novel can also be classified as a story of initiation because Julie matures throughout the plot. A story of initiation can be defined as a type of short story that starts with some confrontation with something for which the protagonist is unprepared: death, an overturning of values or beliefs, or a sudden unmooring from all that is familiar. The child is forced to cope with this conflict and passes through several stages of shock and disappointment as it tries to make sense of what has happened. This struggle to find meaning gives the child a deeper insight into the complexity of adulthood (“The Story of Initiation”). The disturbing event that Julie experiences with her husband Daniel leads to the decision to run away from him. From then on she learns how to survive on her own with the help of the wolves. It makes her realize that she belongs to the Eskimos and not to the Americans.

Pastoral literature portrays an idealized natural world. Human society and specifically urban environments are seen as too complex and corrupt (“Pastoral Literature”). Julie is surrounded by the wilderness and lives a very simple life. She hunts for survival and not for sport. Consequently, she is appalled by the American hunting party that shoots wolves for pleasure. When she finds that her father has made a home for himself within a society which she considers corrupt (and that he even owns a hunting plane, himself), she is shocked and contemplates running away from him. Whenever presented with the opportunity to live within social confines, Julie choose the natural wilderness instead: she runs away from Daniel, she chooses not to go to San Fransisco, and she even changes her Western moniker, Julie to her real Eskimo name, Miyax.