Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence

by

Doris Pilkington

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The Rabbit-Proof Fence Symbol Analysis

The Rabbit-Proof Fence Symbol Icon

The Rabbit-Proof Fence was constructed in Western Australia in the early 1900s, and was completed in 1907. Designed to keep the invasive rabbit populations of the eastern bush from entering Western Australia, the 1100-mile-long fence ran north-to-south and served as a major marker for the semi-nomadic Aboriginal populations who lived nearby, at Jigalong Depot and other government stations. When Molly, Gracie, and Daisy escape internment at the Moore River Native Settlement, Molly’s plan for returning them all home safely is to follow the rabbit-proof fence all the way north to Jigalong. The fence—constructed to keep out the quickly-multiplying and noisome rabbit populations that were introduced originally to Australia by English settlers themselves—serves as a metaphor for the cruelty and incompetence of the colonialist government, and as a symbol of its desire to keep problems which they themselves created at arm’s length.

White settlers decimated Aboriginal lands and murdered and raped Aboriginal people. They systematically prevented Aboriginal tribes from practicing their own laws, culture, and traditions, and from speaking their own native languages. The horrors of colonialism forever transformed the Australian landscape—physically as well as psychically—and created an environment in which Aboriginals, stripped of their culture, resources, and history, were often forced to assimilate or die. Just as the English created the problem of the rabbits (by bringing the invasive species from Europe in the first place) and later sought to eradicate them, they invaded Aboriginal lands, created unspeakable and unimaginable strife, and then sought to keep the Aboriginals contained in internment camps and small tracts of decimated land in the hopes of effectively erasing them altogether.

The Rabbit-Proof Fence Quotes in Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence

The Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Rabbit-Proof Fence. 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 8 Quotes

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:
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The Rabbit-Proof Fence Symbol Timeline in Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Rabbit-Proof Fence appears in Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4: From the Deserts They Came
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
...two months, the group of nomads decides to move on—they plan to walk east, to the rabbit-proof fence , and then continue to the government outpost at Jigalong, where they know other members... (full context)
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
The two groups walk for several days along the rabbit-proof fence , all the way to Jigalong. That night the new group of Mardus are introduced... (full context)
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
...multiplied at such an alarming rate in Australia that the government, in 1907, constructed a rabbit-proof fence , which ran north-to-south through Western Australia, and attempted to keep the invasion of rabbits... (full context)
Chapter 5: Jigalong, 1907-1931
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
...in 1907, was used as a base for the maintenance men charged with attending to the rabbit-proof fence and keeping it clear of brush, debris, and dead animals. The Superintendent of the Jigalong... (full context)
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
...man is named Thomas Craig, an Englishman employed alongside Maude’s father as an inspector of the rabbit-proof fence . (full context)
Chapter 8: The Escape
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
...home. Molly confidently assures the girls that the trip will be easy: they’ll just find the rabbit-proof fence , and follow it all the way back to Jigalong. Gracie and Daisy, impressed by... (full context)
Altruism vs. Cruelty Theme Icon
...destination and their journey so far. When they tell her they are planning to follow the rabbit-proof fence back home, she tells them that they must head eastward if they want to reach... (full context)
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
One day, around noon, Molly shrieks excitedly. Finally, the girls have come to the rabbit-proof fence . She recognizes it because her father, an inspector, has told her so much about... (full context)