The Jesuit Handbook on Lycanthropic Culture Shock states that once the wolf girls experience these negative sentiments, they have entered stage two. During stage two, Russell’s development of Claudette directly corresponds with the epigraph. Claudette found that she was always “irritated, bewildered, depressed… uncomfortable and between stages”(page 229). This lines up perfectly with the Handbook, which describes feelings of discomfort and dislocation among the pack. Claudette had even “begun to snarl at [her] own reflection as if it were a stranger,” showing that she is very uncomfortable with the changes that have happened to her, both physically and mentally.
Karen Russell’s short story, “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves”, is about a pack of wolf-like girls who go to St. Lucy’s to learn how to adapt to a human life. The stages of adapting shows the character 's development and their traits throughout the story. There are many struggles as they adapt to human life, and epigraphs from The Jesuit Handbook on Lycanthropic Culture Shock informs the nuns on what will occur at a certain point in time. Sometimes the epigraphs aren’t entirely accurate.
Karen Russell's “St. Lucy’s Home For Girls Raised By Wolves” is a story of lycanthropic girls who have been raised by their wolf parents who are being assimilated into human culture by forceful nuns. Claudette is the main character who is also telling the story. She faces many achievements and struggles, but by the end of the story Claudette has clearly conformed to human culture. This is supported when Claudette shows her loss of wolf-like traits, such as when she loses compassion for her pack members, and in the later stages when she starts to have complex human thoughts and starts to lose detectable traces of her wolf origins.
In this stage she is expected to feel comfortable in the human culture, and everything in the human culture will start to make sense (Russell 240). Claudette does not match the expectation in this stage due to the Sausalito dance. When she got to the dance, she met Kyle, her brother. Their conversations were very awkward, she, “narrowed my eyes at Kyle and flattened [her] ears, something [she] hadn’t done for months” (Russell 242 and 243) because she had changed into a human. She naturally resorted to her wolf like instincts to flatten her ears when she was in this awkward conversation with Kyle, meaning she has not met the expectation of the stage.
This shows that Claudette can now effectively behavior in a new human environment. However the handbook states that she should be able to “easy to move between the two culture”(pg.246). This is not the case when it comes to Claudette. When she first reconnects with her family after her time at St.Lucy’s her “mother recoiled from me, as if I was a stranger”(pg.249). Claudette develops a human identity, but in the process her wolf identity is somehow damaged.
Adjusting to a different culture is not easy. This is what takes place in the short story, “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves” by Karen Russell. The story is about a pack of wolf girls who are forced to live in a new cultural society. These wolf girls will have to disregard their past cultures and adapt to the ways of regular humans, like their parents wanted them too.
While Claudette is in between these two worlds, she has fully conformed from wolf to human. She has completed the transformation from wolf to human because her own mother doesn 't recognize her, trying to make herself seem more like human, and not even caring about her own fellow wolf mates anymore. In stages, 1, 2, and 3 Claudette is going through stages to become more civilized. On Claudettes journey to conforming to human, she has faced many struggles in becoming human. To start, Claudette “...was irritated, bewildered, depressed”, her pack is “uncomfortable, and between languages.” She is struggling in becoming human because she is stuck between two barriers.
This theme is subtly shown throughout the story, but becomes more apparent after the main event, the slaughter. After Date Bed is presumed missing, Mud, despite the fact that she is not of She-S blood, shows concern for her friend and adopted family member throughout the story – “It is just as well that Mud’s thoughts can’t be heard because what she is thinking is, “I’m the one who loves her. None of you loves her as I do,” and the uselessness of her love arouses her to such a pitch of anguish that she thinks of returning to the plain and searching for Date Bed on her own” (Gowdy, 105). The other She-S’s feel the same way as well – She-Snorts states, “I would not go to The Safe Place…knowing that Date Bed might still be alive and lost” (Gowdy, 249). If the She-S’s didn’t care for their family as much, they would have abandoned all thought of Date Bed and wouldn’t bother searching for her.
In Karen Russell’s short story, “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves”, she develops the progression of the characters in relation to The Jesuit Handbook on Lycanthropic Culture Shock. The characters, young girls raised as if they were wolves, are compared to the handbook with optimism that they will adapt to the host culture. The girls’ progression in the five set stages are critical to their development at St. Lucy’s. The author compares Claudette, the narrator, to the clear expectations the handbook sets for the girls’ development.
The handbook expects the girls to begin to understand the human culture almost perfectly and acquire a newfound self confidence (240). Stage 4 is where all the puzzle pieces begin to come together. However Claudette still has her wolf self inside her. She is determined and trying her best, yet it isn 't coming together like she wanted. A debutante ball came to test the girls and what they had learned.