Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence

by

Doris Pilkington

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Doris Pilkington’s mother and the protagonist of the book, Molly is an intrepid fifteen-year-old “half-caste,” or mixed-race, Aboriginal girl. When captured alongside two of her “sisters” (actually cousins) and sent to the Moore River Native Settlement, Molly devises a plan to escape the internment camp and make her way home by following the rabbit-proof fence through Western Australia. The 1100-mile, nine-week trek made the girls famous throughout the country, as they were relentlessly and publicly hunted by the authorities during the entirety of their journey. Molly’s fearlessness, kindness, and generosity made her a perfect leader, and her knowledge of navigation and survival skills—indispensable skills that she took from her family’s culture, which the government was actively trying to stamp out—ultimately enabled her to successfully return herself and her sister Daisy to the safety of their home.

Molly Quotes in Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence

The Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence quotes below are all either spoken by Molly or refer to Molly. 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:

Molly and Daisy had just finished eating when all the camp dogs began barking. All eyes turned to the cause of the commotion. A tall white man stood on the bank above them. Fear and anxiety swept over them when they realized that the fateful day they had been dreading had come at last. They always knew it would only be a matter of time before the government would track them down. When Constable Riggs, Protector of Aborigines, finally spoke his voice was full of authority and purpose.

“I’ve come to take Molly, Gracie, and Daisy with me to go to school at the Moore River Settlement.”

The rest of the family just hung their heads refusing to face the man who was taking their daughters away from them.

Related Characters: Doris Pilkington (speaker), Constable M.J. Riggs (speaker), Molly, Daisy
Page Number: 43-44
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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Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence PDF

Molly Character Timeline in Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence

The timeline below shows where the character Molly 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
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
...Jigalong after a weeklong trip out to the fence, at which point he names her Molly. When the baby is six weeks old, Maude introduces her to Mr. Keeling, the Superintendent,... (full context)
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Molly grows up into a pretty little girl, well-loved by her family. However, as she gets... (full context)
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Daisy and Gracie soon arrive at the station, and Gracie and Molly become “inseparable” as they grow older. They often play with Daisy, too. Mr. Keeling takes... (full context)
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...set 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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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In July of 1930, Molly and Daisy enjoy a leisurely breakfast with their families and then decide to take their... (full context)
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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... (full context)
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
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...two 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.... (full context)
Chapter 6: The Journey South
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Molly, Gracie, and Daisy sleep for part of the journey, and when they wake up and... (full context)
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...Riggs 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)
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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... (full context)
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Molly, Gracie, and Daisy continue to take in the overwhelming atmosphere of the city on their... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Moore River Native Settlement, 1931
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...River, 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.... (full context)
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...the 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... (full context)
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...the girls to 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,... (full context)
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...her 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... (full context)
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Back at the dormitory, Molly, Gracie, and Daisy snuggle up on one bed and talk. Overwhelmed by all they’ve seen... (full context)
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...watery stew, the girls lie in bed while the wind blows noisily outside their window. Molly takes in her miserable surroundings and listens as an orderly locks the girls in their... (full context)
Chapter 8: The Escape
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
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...head to breakfast, then back to the dormitory again to wait for the school bell.  Molly feels she is too grown up for school, and this is just one of the... (full context)
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After a short rest, Molly urges her younger sisters to get up and start moving again. Wilderness is her “kin,”... (full context)
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...rabbits thumping in their nearby burrows. Gracie wants to catch a rabbit for breakfast, but Molly tells her they have no matches to light a fire and cook it. Gracie catches... (full context)
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...home from hunting. One of the men asks the girls where they are going, and Molly tells them they are headed for Jigalong. The men advise the girl to be careful... (full context)
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...midday, the girls—especially Gracie—are desperately hungry. When they come upon another group of rabbit burrows, Molly excitedly announces that the girls are going to catch some rabbits for their lunch. They... (full context)
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...a log, frightened by the harsh and unforgiving nature in which they’ve found themselves, when Molly suddenly jumps up and orders the girls to hide in a nearby tree. Once they’re... (full context)
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Around noon the girls come upon a farmhouse. Molly urges her sisters to head up to the house and ask the woman of the... (full context)
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...farmhouse or local station. Gracie and Daisy approach the house and ask for food while Molly stays out of sight, where she can watch them in case of any trouble. After... (full context)
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...farmhouse and gathering more food before continuing on. That night, as the girls fall asleep, Molly is kept awake by thoughts of how far the three of them still have to... (full context)
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One day, around noon, Molly shrieks excitedly. Finally, the girls have come to the rabbit-proof fence. She recognizes it because... (full context)
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One morning, the girls awake to the sound of horses’ hooves. Molly urges her sisters to stay still and silent until the riders pass by. The girls... (full context)
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...Gracie plans to take a train to Wiluna in order to be with her mother. Molly and Daisy beg Gracie not to leave them, but Gracie is determined not to trudge... (full context)
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Molly and Daisy stop for a rest near a riverbed and Molly, exhausted from arguing with... (full context)
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The next morning, Molly and Daisy’s families move away from the depot, with no intention of returning until they... (full context)
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...Even when Constable Riggs reports to the Commissioner of Aboriginal Affairs to inform him that Molly has recently been sighted, the Commissioner writes that Molly has been “costly” enough and has... (full context)
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The girls’ historic trek took nearly nine weeks. Pilkington writes that Molly, her mother is now in her late seventies. Pilkington is in awe of her mother,... (full context)
Chapter 9: What Happened to Them? Where are They Now?
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Pilkington reveals that her mother, Molly, worked as a domestic helper at Balfour Downs Station for many years. She married and... (full context)
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...to a 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... (full context)