Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence

by

Doris Pilkington

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Short for Mardudjara, Mardu references the people of the several Aboriginal tribes that once lived in the desert regions of Western Australia. It also refers to the common language they speak. Each tribe once spoke their own dialect; today, though, they speak a language which combines two ancient dialects. Molly, Gracie, and Daisy are Mardu.

Mardu Quotes in Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence

The Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence quotes below are all either spoken by Mardu or refer to Mardu. For each quote, you can also see the other terms 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:
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Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence PDF

Mardu Term Timeline in Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence

The timeline below shows where the term Mardu 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
...north of Perth, are occupied by white settlers. The original inhabitants of this land, the Mardudjara, are completely discounted as white settlers encroach deeper and deeper into their territory. (full context)
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Altruism vs. Cruelty Theme Icon
Pilkington writes that several tribes compose the Mardudjara people, but all are referred to as Mardu after their common language. Most Mardu people... (full context)
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Many Mardu begin to move south, away from their ancestral lands, to the Jigalong Aboriginal community. Even... (full context)
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
The Mardu people—desert nomads used to traveling the bush—are forced to change their methods of travel as... (full context)
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
As the group moves through the desert, they encounter another group of six Mardu nomads, and the two groups eat together and trade stories about the “terrible events” that... (full context)
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
...along the rabbit-proof fence, all the way to Jigalong. That night the new group of Mardus are introduced to “civilization,” and they too learn about white man’s food and clothing. They... (full context)
Chapter 5: Jigalong, 1907-1931
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
...The Superintendent of the Jigalong Depot also carries the title of “Protector of Aborigines.” All Mardu people who come in to Jigalong from the desert are given food rations, clothing, tobacco,... (full context)
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
...deemed a base camp for secret and sacred rituals and ceremonies by tribal elders. The Mardu develop a semi-nomadic lifestyle, staying on the outskirts of the depot and hunting on the... (full context)
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Altruism vs. Cruelty Theme Icon
...didn’t have such light skin. She is always forced to play by herself, as her Mardu playmates insult her, tease her, and call her a “mongrel dog.” One day, her mother... (full context)
Chapter 8: The Escape
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
...through an area of bushland which has been scorched by fire, the girls encounter two Mardu men on their way home from hunting. One of the men asks the girls where... (full context)
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
...to make camp for the night. They build a fire and cook the meat the Mardu men gave them, then sleep in the rough bush around their fire. In the morning... (full context)
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
...her mother there, but planned to wait for her. After a few days, however, a Mardu police tracker reported her to the authorities and she was returned to the Moore River... (full context)