Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence

by

Doris Pilkington

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Gracie Character Analysis

Molly’s younger “sister” (the two are really cousins) and favorite playmate. Gracie is also half-caste. She and Molly are taken away together by Constable Riggs and transported to the Moore River Native Settlement in order to be educated away from their families. When the three girls escape, they embark on a nine-week trek through the Australian bush. Throughout the journey, Gracie is fearful and often complains, and towards the end of their trek, Gracie learns that her mother has moved from Jigalong from Wiluna. She decides to peel off from the group and travel alone to Wiluna. The other two girls beg her to continue on with them, but she is exhausted and desperate to get to her mother. At Wiluna, Gracie is recognized by authorities and apprehended, and soon sent back to Moore River to resume her “education.”

Gracie Quotes in Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence

The Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence quotes below are all either spoken by Gracie or refer to Gracie. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the University of Queensland Press edition of Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence published in 2013.
Chapter 5 Quotes

Molly grew into a pretty little girl. Her mother was very proud of her and her father brought her gifts of clothing and pretty colored ribbons. […] As she grew older, Molly often wished that she didn’t have light skin so that she didn’t have to play by herself. Most of the time she would sit alone, playing in the red dusty flats or in the riverbed depending where her family had set up camp. The dust-covered child stood out amongst her darker playmates. The Mardu children insulted her and said hurtful things about her. Some told her that because she was neither Mardu or wudgebulla she was like a mongrel dog. One morning, her mother told her some exciting news. Two of her aunties had babies, little girls, and they were both muda-mudas like her. Molly was very happy. Now she had two sisters.

Related Characters: Doris Pilkington (speaker), Molly, Gracie, Daisy, Maude
Page Number: 38-39
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

“You should have seen the other ones who were locked up for running away,” [Martha] said. “They all got seven days punishment with just bread and water. Mr. Johnson shaved their heads bald and made them parade around the compound so that everyone could see them. They got the strap too.”

Related Characters: Martha Jones (speaker), Molly, Gracie, Daisy
Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:

When the sons and daughters of the landed gentry and businessmen and professionals such as doctors, lawyers and politicians, were sent away to boarding schools to be educated they were likely to be given pleasant rooms that would be theirs for the duration of their schooling. Instead of a residential school, the Aboriginal children were placed in an overcrowded dormitory. The inmates, not students, slept on cyclone beds with government-issue blankets. There were no sheets or pillow slips except on special occasions when there was an inspection by prominent officials. Then they were removed as soon as the visitors left the settlement and stored away until the next visit. On the windows there were no colourful curtains, just wire screens and iron bars. It looked more like a concentration camp than a residential school for Aboriginal children.

Related Characters: Doris Pilkington (speaker), Molly, Gracie, Daisy
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

Watching the three girls disappear into the open woodlands, [Mrs. Flanagan] said loudly to herself, “Those girls are too young to be wandering around in the bush. They’ll perish for sure. They don’t know this part of the country. And the three of them with just dresses on. It’s a wonder they didn’t catch cold. I’ll have to report this to Mr. Neal for their own good before they get lost and die in the bush. It’s my duty. When she had made her decision she went inside and lifted the earpiece of the telephone.

Related Characters: Mrs. Flanagan (speaker), Molly, Gracie, Daisy
Page Number: 99-100
Explanation and Analysis:

There was much excitement when the girls at last reached the rabbit-proof fence. The fence cut through the country from south to north. It was a typical response by the white people to a problem of their own making. Building a fence to keep the rabbits out proved to be a futile attempt by the government of the day. For the three runaways, the fence was a symbol of love, home and security.

Related Characters: Doris Pilkington (speaker), Molly, Gracie, Daisy
Related Symbols: The Rabbit-Proof Fence
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:

“It’s a pity that those youngsters have gone ‘native,’ but it cannot be helped. They were attractive children, and ought to have been brought in years ago. This emphasizes the necessity for Police Officers to report the presence of half-caste children in the bush. I know this is done now, but it seems to have been neglected in some districts in the past.”

Related Characters: Molly, Gracie, Daisy, Constable M.J. Riggs
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:

“Long way” sums up rather understatedly what was, without a doubt, one of the longest walks in the history of the Australian outback. While other parts of this vast country have been crossed on horses or camels, these three girls did their exploring on their bare feet. An incredible achievement in anyone’s language. The vastness and the diversity of the Western Australian landscape would always be respected and appreciated by them—they trekked across it and conquered.

Related Characters: Doris Pilkington (speaker), Molly, Gracie, Daisy
Page Number: 129-130
Explanation and Analysis:
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Gracie Character Timeline in Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence

The timeline below shows where the character Gracie appears in Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5: Jigalong, 1907-1931
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Altruism vs. Cruelty Theme Icon
Daisy and Gracie soon arrive at the station, and Gracie and Molly become “inseparable” as they grow older.... (full context)
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Altruism vs. Cruelty Theme Icon
...up to “improve the welfare and educational needs” of half-caste children. Pilkington writes that Molly, Gracie, and Daisy were unaware of the government’s designs on them, even as patrol officers travelled... (full context)
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
As years pass, the government keeps a watchful eye on Molly, Gracie, and Daisy, while their parents attempt to shield them both from taunts and from capture... (full context)
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Constable Riggs, Protector of Aborigines, announces that he has come to take Molly, Gracie, and Daisy off to school at the Moore River Native Settlement. The girls’ families tearfully... (full context)
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Altruism vs. Cruelty Theme Icon
...local Aboriginal women need to be taken to the hospital. Riggs loads all four women—Molly, Gracie, Nellie, and Mimi-Ali—into his car. Riggs stops at outpost after outpost searching for Daisy. He... (full context)
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Gracie’s mother informs her daughter’s white father that Gracie has been taken, and asks him why... (full context)
Chapter 6: The Journey South
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Altruism vs. Cruelty Theme Icon
Molly, Gracie, and Daisy sleep for part of the journey, and when they wake up and realize... (full context)
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Altruism vs. Cruelty Theme Icon
...drives to a hospital and commits the two sick women, and then hands off Molly, Gracie, and Daisy to another official—Constable Melrose—for the remainder of their journey south. (full context)
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Altruism vs. Cruelty Theme Icon
As Constable Melrose has other business to attend to, he leaves Molly, Gracie, and Daisy in a cell at a police station for three days. Yet another constable... (full context)
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Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
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Molly, Gracie, and Daisy continue to take in the overwhelming atmosphere of the city on their way... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Moore River Native Settlement, 1931
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Altruism vs. Cruelty Theme Icon
...it is dark. Matron Campbell goes inside and retrieves an orderly, who then takes Molly, Gracie, and Daisy from the car to a wooden building which will be their dormitory. The... (full context)
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Altruism vs. Cruelty Theme Icon
...dormitory rouse from their beds, a friendly girl named Martha Jones introduces herself to Molly, Gracie, and Daisy and offers to be the girls’ guide. She has been at the settlement... (full context)
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Altruism vs. Cruelty Theme Icon
...return to their dormitory while she talks with Bill, and they do. Molly whispers to Gracie and Daisy that she doesn’t like it at Moore River at all, and the girls... (full context)
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
...friend Polly, and the group decides to go for a walk around the settlement. Molly, Gracie, and Daisy are fascinated by the overflowing river which runs through the camp, and simultaneously... (full context)
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Back at the dormitory, Molly, Gracie, and Daisy snuggle up on one bed and talk. Overwhelmed by all they’ve seen that... (full context)
Chapter 8: The Escape
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Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
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Gracie and Daisy protest. They are afraid that they will never be able to make the... (full context)
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
...water from clear pools they find in the dunes. The girls snuggle together, and though Gracie has a nightmare that a marbu is attacking her, the girls eventually sleep soundly, tired... (full context)
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
...morning, the girls are awakened by the sounds of rabbits thumping in their nearby burrows. Gracie wants to catch a rabbit for breakfast, but Molly tells her they have no matches... (full context)
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
By midday, the girls—especially Gracie—are desperately hungry. When they come upon another group of rabbit burrows, Molly excitedly announces that... (full context)
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
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...of the house for food while she waits outside. A young girl welcomes Daisy and Gracie graciously, then fetches her mother, who instantly recognizes them girls as the runaways from the... (full context)
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Altruism vs. Cruelty Theme Icon
...make a plan to follow a routine whenever they reach a farmhouse or local station. Gracie and Daisy approach the house and ask for food while Molly stays out of sight,... (full context)
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Altruism vs. Cruelty Theme Icon
...the riders pass by. The girls set off, deciding to eat their breakfast on foot. Gracie tells Molly that they should go into a nearby town to seek help from a... (full context)
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
When the girls come upon a local station, Gracie decides to depart from the group. She is exhausted, and a muda-muda woman at the... (full context)
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
...and Daisy stop for a rest near a riverbed and Molly, exhausted from arguing with Gracie, quickly falls asleep. While Molly sleeps, Daisy raids a nearby birds’ nest to collect some... (full context)
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Pilkington reveals that Gracie was recaptured soon after returning to Wiluna. She was unable to find her mother there,... (full context)
Chapter 9: What Happened to Them? Where are They Now?
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Altruism vs. Cruelty Theme Icon
...education at Moore River, where she was promptly returned to after being recaptured at Wiluna, Gracie left the settlement and began working as a domestic helper on several different farms. She... (full context)
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Altruism vs. Cruelty Theme Icon
...town south of Jigalong. She trained and worked as a house maid, like Molly and Gracie, and married a station hand with whom she had four children. After her husband passed... (full context)