Essay Sample on Conformity and Compassion in St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves

Published: 2023-04-12
Essay Sample on Conformity and Compassion in St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Fiction American literature
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 922 words
8 min read

The novel centers on the theme of civilization where girls drawn from a wolf pack are made to conform to the norms of a civilized society through being indoctrinated into humanlike behavior that would replace their savage way of beastly life. Following through the storyline, it is apparent that the author envisaged the development of the plot around positive change where the wolves are changed from animals into human beings of astute behavior and character. However, this change brings about conformity in the form of civilization but at the expense of compassion that the wolves have for each other.

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Russell's focus in the story takes the readers on a journey that is revealing of the transitions that impact the lives of three characters namely: Claudette, Jeanette, and Mirabella. Jeanette comes out as the most collaborative and cooperative of the pack first achieving the approval of the nuns in her transition. Claudette, who is the narrator's voice in the story, is motivated by Jeanette's transformation and works hard to achieve the same. It is quite unfortunate that Mirabella is the non-corporative one and rebellious. She is eventually expelled from the school for her non-conformity by the nuns.

"We didn't know at the time that our parents were sending us away for good. Neither did they" (Russell 227). As the story develops, Russell subtly introduces the audience to the dilemma after providing a vivid description of the closely-knit family unit that was about to be broken up. Claudet had just recounted how in the wild they were surrounded by much joy and love. "We nosed each other midair, our bodies buckling in kinetic laughter" (Russell 225) Claudette recounted. However, the move to St. Lucy's changed all this as they began to be estranged to one another.

Russell records how the protagonist Claudette felt about how the nurses treated them at the school and how the process of civilization began drifting their pack apart. The conflict that arises when the girls are forced to conform to their new environment immediately causes ripples as rivalry sets in between them. Claudette recounts that "The pack hated Jeanette. She was the most successful of us..." (Russell 229). Although Jeanette was making progress in becoming civilized, she caused rivalry among the pack and was estranged from everyone else. Feelings of hatred ensued amongst them who were once closely affectionate towards one another.

In contrast to Jeanette's progress, Mirabella was not coping quite well at all. In fact, Russell notes that Mirabella was to ultimately be expelled from the home as she was not conforming to civilization. Claudette also recounts how Mirabella was the raunchy one in the pack and the most resistant to change. At times, forcing the rest of the pack to scold her for she was always out of control. Claudette notes "We'd give her scolding pinches. 'Mirabella,' we hissed, imitating the nuns. 'No' Mirabella cocked her ears at us, hurt and confused" (Russell 231).

Interestingly, Claudette ends up as a middle-ground type of character, she is unsure about herself as she transitions from a wild wolf to a civilized person. She is torn between her identity as a civilized person or as a wild wolf. In the end, Claudette is resigned about her progress and her achievement despite an outward appearance of excellence and pride for having graduated. Claudette recounts "we graduated from St. Lucy's shortly thereafter. As far as I can recollect, that was out last communal howl" (Russell 245). It is saddening to learn that the culmination of civilization was the parting of the pack.

The wolf pack in the story is brought together in a journey of transformation that leaves them divided rather than strengthening their bonds. In the process of civilization, the familial bonds that were existent in the wolf pack are broken and the pack becomes more individualized as the members mature in civilization. However, that is not the case for Mirabella whose name rhymes with the word rebel, she is the rebel in the group who does not conform to the transition and remains a wolf to the end. Russell's climax in the story introduces conflict initiated by the civilization of Jeanette. That not only causes rivalry in the pack but motivates Claudette to want to become a proper lady as well but sadly estranges Mirabella further making her more rebellious towards conformity.

In essence, the moral lesson that Russell attempts to convey in her story is the fact that conformity and compassion are inversely proportionate in relation. In this regard, conformity to a civilized way of life has forced the wolf pack to disregard the compassion and love that they felt for one another prior to joining St. Lucy's Home. It is apparent that the central message in the novel is that change should not serve as a divisive factor among individuals. The emphasis of the novel is that individuals should stay true to who they are despite the environmental pressures that may force them to change. Whereas Jeanette became the sample shrewd lady, it cost her the love of the rest of the pack. On the other hand, Mirabella's non-conformity caused her to be expelled while Claudette remains uncertain about whether it was all worth, eventually. All the characters allowed civilization to change their character estranging themselves from one another and from the pack, thus losing their compassion.

Works Cited

Russell, Karen. St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. The Jesuit Handbook on Lycanthropic Culture Shock, 2007. <>.

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Essay Sample on Conformity and Compassion in St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. (2023, Apr 12). Retrieved from

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