Herbert describes the hunt of a narwhal and her struggle to accept the hunt as acceptable. The piece is set amongst the Inuit people.
Kari Herbert’s father was a polar explorer. She lived with her family in northwest Greenland. This has created a strong sense of identity for Herbert and is reflected in the title of the piece: ‘The Explorer’s Daughter’.
Herbert describes the dilemma between understanding the Inuit people and judging them by her own standards. She finds it a hard experience to witness the killing of the whales but she understands the reasons behind the hunt.
pods: small groups of whales.
Fjord: a long, narrow strip of the sea, between steep mountains.
mattak or blubber: the fatty skin of the whale.
Scurvy: a painful, weakening disease caused by lack of vitamin C.
Tupilaks: charms or figures with magical powers.
Herbert does not explain the vocabulary. It is as though it is part of her own language. She feels this because she grew up in this location.
Herbert uses facts to justify the killing of the narwhal. The paragraph beginning: ‘is an essential contributor to the survival of the hunters in the High Arctic’, explains the reasons why the local community rely on the hunt. There is little emotive language in this paragraph.
The narwhal seem natural in their setting:‘slowly, methodically passing each other by’, whereas this is directly contrasted to Herbert ‘scrambling’. She is not comfortable yet with her surroundings and she feels uncomfortable with the hunt.
Herbert describes the event empathetically. Despite the horror of the hunt, the hunter’s actions are smooth and careful:
‘picked up his harpoon and aimed — in that split second my heart leapt for both hunter and narwhal. I urged the man on in my head; he was so close, and so brave to attempt what he was about to do — he was miles from land in a flimsy kayak, and could easily be capsized and drowned.’
She feared for both the creature and the human at this point. She knew a death would occur but she was uncertain as to who she felt most empathy for.
Herbert skillfully flits between highly emotive paragraphs and very factual paragraphs. This almost allows her to justify the killing of the narwhal.
She concludes with: ‘Hunting is still an absolute necessity in Thule.’ Despite her own emotional responses, she accepts that the killing of the narwhal is something that must occur in this community.
Within your examination, you will be asked a series of questions about the article.
Some of the questions will be short questions. For these questions, you must look at the number of marks in brackets. It is important to answer in full sentences.
Other questions will be long questions. For these questions, you must look at using analysis. You will also be asked to compare. Think carefully about the key comparisons and plan your answer first.
Assessment features are __coming soon: ____check back here in the next few days for the opportunity to ____unlock assessment ____and access ____teacher-written questions ____with ____model answers.
- What do the hunters of Thule witness in summer? (1 mark)
- annual return of the narwhal to the Inglefield Fjord.
Explanation: The hunters of Thule witness the annual return of the narwhal to the Inglefield Fjord.
- Why are the narwhal an essential contributor to the survival of the hunters?
- The blubber provides minerals and vitamins. The tusk is used for tools.
Explanation: The blubber provides minerals and vitamins. The tusk is used for tools.