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Teaching and Learning

Home  >  Teaching and Learning  >  Ordinary Wolves  >  Discussion Questions
Chapter 12
Chapter Summary: 
As he flies to Anchorage for the first time, Cutuk suffers with a hangover after drinking Lysol to celebrate his twenty-second birthday. Anchorage is huge, fast, and frustrating. He loses directions to January's house and spends the night sleeping outside. He runs into a homeless woman from Uktu, and she shares pizza with him. Humiliated, he finally calls Iris to get January's contact information.

Discussion Questions:

Why do you think Cutuk celebrated his twenty-second birthday by getting high off Lysol?

Points to Consider:

  • Lysol has been an abused substance in Alaska for decades due to its availability, cost, and the relatively high alcohol content.
  • No other liquor might have been available, but more likely, for Cutuk his willingness to get drunk from Lysol was more out of anxiety for the trip to Anchorage and away from his comfort zone.

Discuss Cutuk's comparison between Eskimos and ravens.

Points to Consider:

  • Cutuk has a deep respect for both, but the Eskimos and ravens that live in town and have given up the old ways are disconcerting to him.

Why does Cutuk look for and see so many omens telling him that he's doing the wrong thing by leaving?

Points to Consider:

  • He wants the land and the animals to give him signs, because he is used to reading and interpreting signs from the land. In this case he wants reassurance that he's doing the right or wrong thing.

On the flight to Anchorage, Cutuk ponders Abe's teachings and asks himself, "What was between? What does he want us to do?" What do you think the answers to those questions are for Cutuk?

Points to Consider:

  • Abe loves his children and wants them to grow up to be independent and critical thinkers. According to Cutuk, Abe just wanted them to be happy, but Cutuk feels he has only been practicing wanting to he happy.

Discuss the irony in Cutuk's Asimov allusion to the Foundation Trilogy and his observation of the modern world inside and outside the Anchorage airport.

Points to Consider:

  • Cutuk has an impressive literary education, but the real world is completely foreign to him. He recognizes that the world he's stepped into is a façade of sorts and the people around him have evolved into an otherworldly people.

How is the city chaos different from that found in Takunak?

Points to Consider:

  • In the city the people aren't friendly or helpful. The lights, signs, and pace of life are different in the city. He's not dealing with rage and alcohol-fueled violence, but instead faces inhospitable and uncaring city society. In Takunak he is different because he is white, where in the city he is different because he feels different inside.

Why do you think Cutuk is haunted by Enuk's voice? And why does he talk to Enuk, as if Enuk can hear him? (p. 154)

Points to Consider:

  • Enuk has always shared knowledge with Cutuk, and the strange situation in the city has him needing guidance. He misses Enuk and carries Enuk's voice within him.
  • He speaks to Enuk, as much as he's speaking to himself. He's also spiritual, so in a way, he knows that Enuk may be listening.

How is Cutuk's run-in with the woman from Uktu significant?

Points to Consider:

  • The woman recognizes him and shares her pizza with him. They both react the same way to the white people passing by, by lowering their faces. In their short time together he gets a slice of home and the people from there and this helps him to swallow his pride and call Iris for directions.


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