The 3rd and final part in a series of articles about the hidden symbolism of animals featured in Wolf Quest.
At last, we have reached the end of this series (Not quite). Throughout the previous two articles, I have gone in depth with the main creatures (the Raven and the Wolf) and the totem spirits (Fox, Bear, Wolverine, and Caribou) and Muru (this second article is coming soon!), so now it is time to talk about the other characters that you think didn't play such a large role, but after some research and rewatching, you wouldn't believe the secret meanings that each animal has.
~ Yes, this includes animals that were only in a couple of scenes and characters that were not as vital to the story's focus (Jenna, Boris, the polar bears), plus one other character that I chose to save for last. You know who it is. ^__^ ~
Played by Balto's mate, Jenna, the dog is seen in the beginning of Wolf Quest as mainly a symbol of love and devotion - Jenna and Balto's love for each other and their new litter of puppies.
- It took me a while to notice this one part, but her role in one of Balto's dreams shows that she is like a beacon of faith to Balto - she trusts him, not just as a lover, but also as a true friend. She knows that Balto will do the right thing. In the dream, her shadow appears from inside the door of her owner's house, while she is surrounded by a burst of bright light, calling out his name. And of course, he runs towards her while also running from the raven that hovers over him. Perhaps, she is used in his dreams as a way of Aniu telling him that his destiny is to stay in Nome with his mate, not in the wild like his daughter will one day live . . . or perhaps the fact that his main love is his family in the home that he has in Nome - his mate, his children, his guardian and the bear cubs? Who knows?
(Note: At the time of this vision (which was a day before the adoption of his children), he knows nothing of the quest that he will soon endure in a year's time, but Aniu (and secretly, the animators (okay, maybe they didnt realize this)) seems to enjoy hinting the events of the movie's plot without the viewer's knowledge. Anyone else notice that?)
- But Jennas main role is a mother. Like Balto, she cares deeply for her childrens safety by being a protector and can somehow sense trouble from a distance. Yes, she can be worrisome at times, but its only natural for a mother to worry about her children (especially since she knows about Aleus wolf heritage), as noticed in this scene after Aleu has run away:
Balto: But I-I finally had to tell her how humans see her.
Jenna: You mean you've told her about being part...
Balto: Yes. We should have done it sooner, I know that now. She's so angry with me...she must have run away.
Jenna: Run away!
Balto: I'm sorry, Jenna. I never thought it would turn out this way. I thought I could keep her safe.
Jenna: But she's not safe now, she's running wild! We've got to find her!
Balto: No. Not you, Jenna. This is my fault, and it's something Aleu and I have to work out together. Don't worry. I'll find her.
- Plus, when Balto realizes that Aleu didnt come back home to him, the first place that he thinks of is . . . Ding, Ding, Ding: Jennas house. Perhaps he thought that if Aleu needed a good companion or a supportive shoulder to lean on after having a shocking and confusing time in her life, the best and closest friend she could ever have would be her mother (This makes sense. I mean, think about it: Jenna was there for Aleu ever since she first came into the world. For weeks, she nurtured and took care of Aleu and her siblings only as a natural mother should. Why wouldnt Aleu be there?) Of course, Aleu wasnt there, especially since she now knows the truth (perhaps she was afraid that she would be the target for another hunter or something).
And Im not sure if the terrier was such a major part of the beginning, but he did help lead to showing Baltos love for Jenna by his announcement of Jennas delivery. Why else would he rush straight to her house after hearing the terriers yipping news? He loves her, and now that hes a new papa, who wouldnt do the same thing?
Either way, the terrier was still annoying.
Boris, Balto's guardian gander, had quite an important role, even though he was only in the beginning of the film until Balto tracks Aleu's scent. His character makes him to be almost like a father figure to Balto, since Baltos real father (a husky) was never mentioned and probably abandoned him as a young child, so the Russian goose took him under his wing and has been there ever since.
- The goose can mean someone that can help move someone along one's soul path, almost like a guide. Remember how Boris was at the beginning of the film after Balto's first dream in the opening credits?
Boris: Wrong! You won't be getting any rest, not with that dream hanging 'round like...dark cloud.
Balto: I hate it when you get dramatic.
Boris: How else to reach you? I'm telling you, boitshick, if you keep having same dream again and again, it means something.
See? (This is obvious since Boris has raised Balto he was a pup - he has reason to be so worried about him and his lack of sleep . . . especially what is to come minutes later in the next scene) Boris is worried about Balto and wants him to understand the fact that these dreams must mean something, hence the next scene's dialogue.
Boris: So, if dreams mean nothing, why does it always have raven and pack of wolves, huh? Why not pickled herring?
Balto: Because herring would be in one of your dreams, not mine.
Boris: Precisely. Raven and wolves have meaning only to you! Balto, look! On totem pole! There is raven and wolf!
Balto: Calm down, Boris! There's also a fox, and a wolverine--
Boris: Oy! Such scary creatures! They should only live in...uh, well, far away from me!
Balto: And a bear and a caribou. They're just wood carvings, Boris.
Boris: Yes, I know. Humans use them to tell stories, but of what, I don't know. Balto! Maybe seeing raven and wolf on totem pole is making you dream something very important!
Balto: Like what?
Boris: Like maybe something you forgot, or maybe something you are supposed to know.
- Okay, is it just me, or is Aniu working through Boris here (This could be true, since for a few moments there was a bit of fog underneath Boris and Balto when they were at the totem pole. *see the above picture*)? - The goose hit the main point right on the head (in terms that possibly the soon-to-be father (and the viewers) would be able to understand), almost as if he knows something that Balto does not. However, this similar situation happens in a couple of other scenes as well.
= When Balto and Boris are watching the pups the day before the adoption scene, Boris says something that, literally, isn't true, but as the film progresses, shows itself as Aleu grows ready to fulfill her destiny:
'Funny, but from where I'm standing, I see daughter who looks even more wolf than father.'
(I think this sentence is commonly misheard by many fans as 'Although Aleu has less wolf blood in her, she (physically) looks more wolf than Balto,' but I think he means 'Although Aleu has less wolf blood in her, she (spiritually) looks more wolf than Balto. ' This version makes more sense since Balto feels more ashamed of his wolf side, while Aleu feels more connected to it even though she doesnt know about being part-wolf; her howling comes naturally to her whenever shes happy, excited about something, or at times when she cant help herself.)
= When Balto says, 'When the time is right, she'll find a home,' Boris obviously knows that most likely Balto will not let go of his daughter so easily ('Yes, but when the right time comes, will you let her?'). This leads to the next point below.
= When Jenna, Muk and Luk want to help Balto find Aleu, he seems to be the voice of wisdom, understanding that Aleu and Balto will be on a journey that only they would understand. (To Muk and Luk: 'I'm sorry, boys, but this journey is for Balto and Aleu alone.'; and to Jenna: 'No, Jenna. This is a journey for father and daughter. You must have faith in them. . . . Don't worry, Jenna. Remember, they're well-equipped. They are both part wolf.') He knows that, somehow, Balto has to learn to let Aleu live her own life, even if it means tracking her down all around the Alaskan wilderness before he can finally let her go.
(Again, probably either Aniu was involved to have Boris stop the others from interfering with the part-wolves journey, or it may have been his natural instincts that made him realize that Balto had to learn the hard way and without anyone else to slow him down. But if you look on the last picture, he does seem worried for them too, but Boris trusts that Balto will do the right thing.)
The Polar Bears:
- Muk and Luk, the never-growing polar bears, are not as important to the film, but they do find an important creature that tells of things to come (see next below for a continuation).
- Other than that, their spiritual quality is patience, in my opinion. They learned to be patient as they awaited Balto and Aleu's return, even though (little do they know) only one would be coming back to Nome from their quest. That's all I can think of at the moment.
- Shortly befriended by Muk and Luk, the toad is not very important to the film, yet it seems to add a bit of a humorous scene with the two polar bears.
- Spiritual wise, it adds a sense of changing luck to the situation. Actually, after Muk and Luk try to communicate with 'Mister Toad', the bears and Boris find Balto (when he is surrounded by Aniu's fog and gets Aleu's scent) and get his message that he's gone off to follow the scent. See? Balto and the gang's luck changes for the better, now that they know Aleu can be tracked down and hopefully, she will return home safely. Unfortunately, he must do it alone, much to the dismay of Muk and Luk.
Although not a huge part in the film, the orca whale (aka whale) is used by Nava due to some psychic or spiritual connection.
- Whale spirits have the ability to help people find their souls song, so perhaps the whale that Nava summoned was some sort of a sign . . . maybe it was a secret way to show that somehow this clan was where Aleu would find her destiny and possibly was the pack of wolves that was in Baltos first dream (since Nava did say that he had called for him.).
- Also, Nava signaled to the whale and it shot water from its blowhole to land on Niju. Whale spirits, especially orcas (also known as killer whales), have been thought of having the power to control rainfall on the Earth; probably it was showing its magic powers to Niju since he didnt believe in Navas leadership and power. (And also it was rather humorous too.)
- Importantly seen during the song 'The Grand Design,' the eagle is shown soaring upward into the sky, then it's followed by a quick shot of an amazed Aleu intertwined with its body before it continues to fly higher. Even though it may only be for visual purposes, the addition of the Eagle adds some sense to the story's conclusion with Aleu.
- In 'The Grand Design,' the eagle soars past Nava and Aleu as they sit on the cliff, heading upward, as if to have some connection to some sort of higher power (most likely, it's with Aniu). It (combined with the song's lyrics) seems to give Aleu a chance to see 'the big picture' or give her some sort of understanding of why she is there.
(I mean, she knew ever since first hearing of the clan's dilemma that somehow she and her father were sent there to help them in some way, shape, or form . . . . she just didn't know how, except that it seemed her father was to lead the clan to the caribou, according to Nava's prediction, that is)
- Note that the eagle and Aleu's eyes match up in the screenshot above? After that scene, she seems to mature to a level that she understands what the vision that she suddenly saw and her connection with the wolf pack - she was meant to lead them. She was the first to make sense of what the whole 'caribou-crossing-the-water' thing that Aniu had told Nava (Aleu's first real dream of it, not that 'quick vision' that she had when Nava was talking to Balto about how he was to lead them to the caribou), so wasn't it obvious that she, not Balto, was the one that Aniu wanted?
- Also the eagle was shown during Muru's song, almost as if it was a sign from the start. Perhaps its very brief presence as a large picture in the song meant that later on, its spiritual purpose meant that soon this would become clear for Aleu that her destiny lies in the balance. Also, the eagle is a very common animal in the Inuit mythology, and it is used as a symbol of guidance (which would make sense, since the song itself was a guiding tool for Aleu to figure out what her true place in life was).
Aniu The White Wolf:
- Yes, even Aniu had an important meaning in the end (A very big part, of course). In dreams, a white wolf usually symbolizes some sort of victory in something (perhaps the end of a successful quest - since Aleu accepted her destiny and Balto learned to, at last, let his daughter live her own life without him always over her shoulder; or also success of her guiding them into learning more about the other part of them: the wolf - I mean, she was the one who had everything planned out for her granddaughter, right?).
- Also since she is a wolf, she has many of the spiritual qualities of the wolf: She helped teach the father and daughter on their journey while also sending the message to Nava that they were on their way to him and his pack, knowing well that one of them was destined to take his place as alpha wolf (Aniu meant Aleu (although she never told him which one it was), while Nava thought it was the older and more wolf of the two, Balto).
- Before showing herself to Balto, her other form was also revealed (the raven), it showed that she was the one that helped guide Balto and Aleu to the wolf pack. This also means that she must be 'all-knowing' since she started sending those dreams to Balto days before Aleu's birth. She knew that Aleu's destiny was to become the clan's alpha, but I suppose she thought it would be best for her son to receive the visions until Aleu was ready to receive them herself (after she and Balto reunited from the bear attack).
- Also, thanks to Steet's explanation of WQ, it is also possible that Aniu was also the other animals that Aleu and Balto encountered: Fox, Wolverine, Muru, and the Bear. When you think about it, Aniu does seem to possess spiritual qualities from all of these creatures:
- = Fox: Invisibility (Balto and the others werent able to see her true form unless she wanted them to) and Shape-shifting (This would explain her being all the spirits that Balto and Aleu encountered along the way)
- =Wolverine: Courage (She had to stand up to her son and actually tell him to stop following her (the Raven); I still think that she originally didnt want Balto to accompany Aleu to Nava and his clan, but if he didnt, there wouldnt be any point in having Baltos name in the title!), Understanding aggression (She knew how protective Balto was of his daughter and knew that he wanted nothing more than to find her safe and sound without too much delay), and a Magical Link between the Two Worlds (Yes, Aniu is a spirit, but she does communicate to the material world occasionally)
- = Muru (Mouse): Invisibility/Ability to be unseen (she does this many times as the fog, but its the same as the Fox) and Quietness (she rarely speaks and opens her mouth. Most of the time, you only hear her voice at times when it is necessary.)
- = Bear: World Guardian/Watcher (A few times in the film, she was seen just watching, seeing what life-changing choices the creatures around her will make. I mean, she is called several times The Great Aniu . . . Perhaps she is like the almighty guardian of all wolves, one that has the power to change things. Aniu is a total mystery, huh?), Creature of Dreams and Shamans (This is obvious; she sends messages to Nava (who is a shaman) and other wolves (or part-wolves, if you count Balto and Aleu) via their dreams) and Wisdom (Aniu is very knowledgeable in the ways of the spirits, totem guides, and animals of the wilderness (maybe even humans too?). Perhaps she could be Baltos guide? Hmm, makes you think, doesnt it?)
I mean, this would make sense, as spoken by Aniu herself in this line from one of Baltos dreams in the film:
Aniu: My son, you need to know the animal totems who will help guide you now.
Now think about it: Why else would Aniu tell Balto about them in his dream after Aleu discovered the truth about her having wolf in her? Aniu already knows everything thats going to happen (and every creature that Balto and his daughter will meet up with), and she knew that Balto would be worried for Aleus safety and go searching for her. At least she was nice enough to inform Balto of the totems that he and Boris talked about in the beginning of the film (because little did he know, he was actually going to meet them along his journey to find Aleu).
- Finally, Aniu has this cloak of mystery about her: the fog. As Steet mentioned in his article, whether something crucial to the story took place (meeting the totem spirits and the Raven), Aniu was there, surrounded by her fog as she disappears. The fog itself could symbolize many things throughout different scenes in the film:
- = A lack of clarity: Perhaps she wanted Balto to just enjoy traveling on the journey, not knowing that it was her guiding him and his daughter all along. During most of the journey, both Balto and Aleu had no idea where they were being led to, and Balto hadnt previously realized that what was being explained in his dreams was slowly (or with the caribou, had already) coming to pass.
- = Insecurity: The first time Anius fog was around, it caused a sudden air of vulnerability. Remember when Balto first saw the Raven (outside of his dreams) and Anius misty face lingered over him? He didnt know where to go, and since hes not as closely connected to his wild self, hes pretty unprotected out there.
- = A lack of focus:Another time was when Boris and the polar bears found Balto by the river, but when they had jumped into the river to reach him, the fog cut them off, making them confused and unable to see him. (I mean, wouldnt you be confused if you see your friend and then hes suddenly out of sight?) Of course, as soon as Balto gets Aleus scent (sent by Aniu, as usual), they notice that he is okay and they understand his commands: make their way back to Nome to tell Jenna the news and patiently await his return with his daughter.
- Wolf Quest Screenshots - Capped by
- Wolf Quest Script - taken from Aleuwolf's Den
- Spiritual Guide Information from and Animal Spirit Guides.
Other Stuff and Details - taken from The Book of Dream Symbols and other books.
Note: This is the final article of my series about the animals in Wolf Quest, but the second one (about the Totem Spirits) is about 55% completed! When it is posted, this message will be erased, so please do not ask about that. Thank you!