Northward Bound: Archival research.

I chose to work with the novel “My Arctic Journal” by Josephine Diebitsch Peary. The novel was published in 1983 and is told from Mrs. Peary’s point of view as she travels to Greenland and up into the Arctic Circle with her husband and the rest of the crew. The artifact is in wonderful condition, as far as I can tell it is in the original binding and is constructed with a sturdy paper. The only noticeable age on the book is the coloration of the cover that I assume has aged to it’s current dull yellow color.

In the journal, Peary demonstrates a matter of fact and detail oriented personality. She had a excellent knowledge of the workings of the ship and of cartography. I would guess that these skills were a necessity if you were going to plunge into the hazardous conditions of the arctic circle with a small crew.  Another feature that shows she was a great judge of character is the respect that she has for the Inuit people that are their to greet Mrs.Peary and the rest upon their arrival. She notes that it was good to see that they were hospitable to the crew and did not see them as bothers. Mrs. Peary understood how hard it would be to try and survive this far up and had the mindset to acknowledge those who could survive and learn from them. As a protagonist to her own real life adventure, the capacity that she showed for acting in a tight situation is admirable.

She takes up regular duties on the crew, and saves and then helps to nurse him back to health before they even arrive at the destination. More than anything Mrs. Peary is a woman of action and only seems to stop when she is analyzing something, like how the Inuit people carve a seal and walrus. To relate her to what we have been talking about in class I see her as a progressive figure in many ways. Mrs. Peary does what she can to help the situation of the crew, and nothing is described in the ways of a woman’s role in society. While it is true that these skills could be seen as that in traditional society, out in the Arctic these are necessities that go beyond gender role. Furthermore, with her husband out of the picture, she does an excellent job of taking over his roles as well as her own, these include from helping to build the shelter that they would need, to dragging a wounded animal over the ice to finish it off for dinner.

Other than these roles, this journal lacks the traditional drama of the fictional works we have read in class. I got the sense that she and her husband have a solid relationship without the need of business or an awakening from getting in the way. In fact I did notice one social problem in my entire reading. Even the interactions with the Inuit people were held with respect and tact despite the language barrier. In every sense of the word I can only find respect for a person who managed to balance all the needs and worries that come with trying to travel and live in the hazardous north.

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