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Julie of the Wolves and Doosong; The Cultural Conflict Between the InuKs and the Dominant American Culture by Mary Uckteig In 1986, Gary Paulson received the Newbery Honor Award for Doosong. Thirteen years eerier, Jean Craighead George received the Newbery Award for Julie of the Wolves. These two books are of particular interest to the topic of cross-culturalism in children's literature. Both books deal with clashes between two cultures of North American people: the lnuit culture of the North and the dominant culture of the Western Hemisphere. The purpose of this paper is to discuss this cultural clash and to observe the importance of lnuit songs and lnuit ways as we note the contrast with Western culture. Julie of the Wolves is a story set in Alaska. JuKe, a young lnuit girl, is running away from an arranged marriage. Her goal is to go to San Francisco to stay with her pen-pal. When she becomes lost on the tundra, she befriends wolves in order to survive. She eventually finds her father, who she thought was dead, and must face the truth that he is not the way she remembered him. This requires that she make a decision about the place-both geographic and cultural-where she belongs. Rüssel in Doosong also lives in the lnuit culture. As he approaches manhood, he becomes aware of a restlessness in himself. In addition, he is concerned about the fact that the lnuit culture is being debased by influences from the Western culture, called "the Outside" by Rüssel. Realizing his son's restlessness, Russel's father sends him to see Oogruk, the shaman, to seek help. Rüssel asks Oogruk how to get the song back, those lnuit songs that are the symbol of the truth. As Russel's father says, "Sometimes words lie-but the song is always true" (Paulson 11). Oogruk suggests they must live the right way to get the songs back. Russel's response, "I will," comes from him without knowing he is speaking, but he realizes his destiny is to become a song. Thus, his quest is one to rediscover the old ways and become a song. Leaving with Oogruk and Oogruk's dogs, he completes a journey across the tundra and finds his song. The major similarity of these plots is the fact that a central character, living in two cultures, confronts the changes in his native ways as these are influenced by a culture from the outside. As an aside, It is worthwhile to note that cultural conflict is the theme of other books of children's lterature. Moon Shadow in Draoonwings by Lawrence Yep, for example, must face the conflict between his Chinese background and the American culture in San Francisco in the early 1900's. Similarly Shirley Temple Wong of In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord, realizes the differences between Chinese ways and the values of the dominant Western culture of Brooklyn, New York, in the 1940's. Likewise, Cassie Logan, a Black American in RoI of Thunder. Hear Mv Crv by Mildred Taylor faces the prejudice of a white society h rural Mississippi during the Depression. In these three stories, as in Julie of the Wolves and Doosong, young people of one culture feel the effects of living with the Western culture. But Moon Shadow, Shirley Temple Wong, and Cassie Logan are aH different from Julie and Rüssel in that they have moved or have been moved into the Western culture whHe Julie and Rüssel have stayed in their own land, and the Western culture has come to them. This is a significant difference, I believe, because the very environment of Julie and Rüssel seems to cry out for the maintenance of old ways and to resist the changes being imposed on it. The tension between two cultures is, therefore, even more dramatic than in the other stories. In addition to the cultural conflict that is faced Ii both Julie and Doosong. there are other similarities. Both are third person stories, both have one central character, young lnuits (one male, one female). Both stories are linear; they begin at...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1553-1201
Print ISSN
0885-0429
Pages
pp. 83-86
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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