Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence

by

Doris Pilkington

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Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence Themes

Themes and Colors
Racism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation Theme Icon
Family, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Altruism vs. Cruelty Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Racism and Colonialism

English settlers claimed Australia as a British colony in the late 1700s, marking the beginning of a long and insidious process of displacement and extermination for Australia’s indigenous people, the Aborigines. In Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence, Doris Pilkington writes that in the early days of colonization many Aboriginal tribes believed their colonizers to be spirits (or gengas) rather than human beings, and thus underestimated or failed to understand what a grave threat colonizers…

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Loss, Dispossession, and Reclamation

The history of the indigenous population of Australia is marked by loss and dispossession. In the early chapters of Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence, Doris Pilkington, writing imaginatively about the early days of English colonization of Australia, explores how English settlers systematically stripped Aboriginal Australians of their land, property, and culture from the moment they set foot on Australia’s shores. This pattern continued unabated up to and well beyond the 1930s, when the main…

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Family, Culture, and Identity

Despite the loss, sorrow, racism, and dispossession which mark Doris Pilkington’s family history, a strong and resilient sense of collective identity is ultimately what spurred Molly, Daisy, and Gracie to escape captivity and undertake the long and dangerous journey homeward. Along the way, it was the girls’ culture (that is, their people’s customs, traditions, and intimate relationship with the natural world) which enabled them to survive in the hostile Australian bush. As she…

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Altruism vs. Cruelty

Throughout the pages of Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence, Doris Pilkington examines the line between altruism and cruelty. As she reproduces missives sent between members of the Australian government, and imagines interactions between government officials and the half-caste children they were tasked with capturing, however, this line sometimes becomes blurry. The cruelty of the Australian government’s campaign to forcibly assimilate—even eradicate—Aboriginal culture is undeniable, but by disguising their actions under the cover of altruism and…

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