Never Cry Wolf Essay Research Paper Never

Never Cry Wolf Essay, Research Paper Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat For my book report, I have chosen the novel Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat. In this report I will give a brief summary of the novel as well as why I

Never Cry Wolf Essay, Research Paper

Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat

For my book report, I have chosen the novel Never Cry Wolf by Farley

Mowat. In this report I will give a brief summary of the novel as well as why I

have chosen it for my report. Finally, I will give my reactions to the novel

with regards to its analysis of the place of human beings in nature, whether the

destiny of humans and nature is intertwined, and how nature is regarded by the

different religious and political philosophies demonstrated in the novel.

Never Cry Wolf is based upon the true story of the author’s experiences

during two years spent as a biologist studying a family of wolves in northern

Canada during the mid nineteen fifties. When Mowat is sent on his expedition

his goal is to bring back proof of the wolves decimating effect on the northern

herds of Caribou. After arriving at the remote location, he finds a group of

wolves and begins his research. He then discovers the differing peculiarities

of the wolves and finds that they are more than the savage and merciless hunters

that he had previously believed them to be. He discovers that they are in fact

a very efficient and resourceful and have their own distinctive culture. For

example he discovers that they in fact have a symbiotic relationship with the

caribou in that they keep the caribou population strong by hunting down only the

sick and weaker members of the herd. This leads to a situation where the

strongest caribou survive and thus the herd is made stronger. As well they

have their own social orders that ensure peaceful co-existence with one another

instead of being reduced to fighting amongst themselves. Before Mowat’s

excursion conventional wisdom thought that that was the only interraction that

the wolves were capable of. In his group he finds a monogamous pair who are

raising their litter with assistance from another male wolf who Mowat terms to

be an “uncle”. His previous assumptions which portrayed the wolves as cold

heated killers who lived only for the hunt, is challenged as he observes these

animals play and interact within their environment his previous assumptions

about the role that these animals play in nature. His attitude metamorphosis’

from one of disdain and contempt to one of genuine respect and admiration.

I chose this novel for study instead of Siddhartha because I felt that

this novel speaks more directly to me. I felt this way firstly, because of the

location of the novel, northern Canada, in which I traveled for a summer, and

secondly because I enjoy spending time in the outdoors. This meant that I could

more easily identify the setting and thus relate better to the author’s feelings

and perceptions. Meanwhile, Siddhartha was set in India and in my mind was

dated and unreal humankind (society) seems today to have more of a desire and a

need to get back to nature and the simple life. The spirit of peace that

emanates from Mowat’s book allows one to focus on what is possible when one has

time to reflect In this I mean that Never Cry Wolf seemed to hold a more

meaningful message for modern times. As well I found the style of writing in

the Mowat novel to be clearer then in Siddhartha. These were some of the

factors that combined to produce a situation where Never Cry Wolf captured my

attention more than Siddhartha. It was for these reasons that I chose the novel

by Farley Mowat.

In my opinion, Never Cry Wolf placed humans in the role of intruders as

far as nature is concerned. Mowat cites several instances where humans violate

nature and represent a threat to its sanctity. Even though this threat is not

reciprocated by nature, humans continue to infringe upon nature and then deny

the consequences of their actions. Two prevalent examples of this occur: when

Mowat accidentally wanders into the wolves den when the wolves’ are there, and

again when he discovers a herd of deer that have been slaughtered by hunters.

Both examples show humans intruding upon nature and using it for their own


In the first example Mowat decides to explore the wolves’ den without

realizing that they are still inside. Once inside he discovers that they are

still there and he fears that he is going to be killed by them. Even though he

is an intruder the wolves take no action against his presence and he manages to

escape. The most disturbing aspect of this event is afterwards when he

describes the rage and fear that overcame him at the thought of having been at

their mercy:

“I sat down on a stone and shakily lit a cigarette, becoming

aware as I did that I was no longer frightened. Instead an

irrational rage possessed me. If I had had my rifle I believe

that I might have reacted in brute fury and tried to kill both

wolves.” (P. 175)

In the second incident Mowat illustrates how humans brutally use nature

for their own benefit and pleasure. The situation occurs when a trapper comes

to Mowat to show him “proof” of the savage and merciless ways of wolves.

Following the trapper they come to a spot where approximately 50 deer have been

slaughtered. However, he quickly finds out that the deaths were the result of

human hunters. Of the herd only two or three had been touched after the kill,

their heads taken home as trophies. Despite the evidence Mowat is unable to

convince people of the true nature of the predators and in response to the

incidence the bounty on wolves is raised by twenty dollars.

Overall I would say that Mowat’s book makes the point that the destiny

of humans and animals are closely entwined. Several times in the novel he

illustrates how each affects the other. As well he also demonstrates how humans

can still learn from nature. One example of this occurs when Mowat’s food

supplies run low and he adapts the fishing tactics of the wolves in order to

catch fish.

The final aspect of Never Cry Wolf that I will examine is how nature is

regarded by the various religious and political philosophies demonstrated in the

novel. The two different philosophies which are demonstrated are one which are

diametrically opposed. The first philosophy is that of mainstream western

culture. This philosophy views nature as something to be feared and ultimately

conquered. Throughout the book there are examples where people with this

viewpoint attempt to dominate nature or at least attempt to impose human moral

judgment upon it. This is especially prevalent in people’s attitudes towards

wolves. They see the wolves bloodthirsty, merciless killers who are

pillaging the caribou herds for mere blood sport. And yet those people fail to

recognize that the true slaughterers are the human predators who blatantly

overhunt the caribou herds. For instance, Mowat finds that conservatively,

trappers kill a combined 112 000 deer every year but still blame the wolf for

the caribous’ decimation.

The other philosophy demonstrated in Never Cry Wolf is that of the

native Americans of northern Canada. Their philosophy, as presented by Mowat is

one which views humans as only being a fraction of the total importance of

nature. In their culture they are taught to have reverence for nature and to be

efficient in their use of natural resources. This philosophy causes them to see

wolves, not as bloodthirsty menaces, but as animals simply fulfilling their role

in the natural chain.

In conclusion I believe that Never Cry Wolf illustrates the various

beliefs that different people have about nature and the environment. Mowat also

effectively demonstrates how these beliefs influence people’s interaction with

nature. Finally, Mowat leaves no doubt that humans do have a large and

sometimes traumatic impact upon nature. However with his experience changing

Mowat’s own change of thinking, we see that it is possible for humans to correct

the error of their humanistic thinking. This can particularly be seen in

Mowat’s closing sentences…

“I thought of Angeline and her pup cowering at the bottom of the

den where they had taken refuge from the thundering apparition of

the aircraft, and I was shamed.” (P.175)