Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence

In The Art of Travel Spring 2018, 11. Second book, Sydney, Places by Sim Tumay1 Comment

For decades before the European colonizers came to Australia, the aboriginal people tended to the land by living a life of serenity and peace amongst nature. When the Europeans came around, they dehumanized the aboriginal people and disregarded their opinions, beliefs, and ways of life. They were selfish manipulators and took the land for themselves like thieves. They implemented their ways of life and the guidelines that they lived by back home in Europe. They believed that they were making life “better” for the aboriginal people by creating an organized civilization rather than continuing to live by the aboriginal people’s simple, unorganized way of life. Although the aboriginal people didn’t have as many resources, material goods, education, or wealth as the European colonizers they were much more ethical, moral people who were in touch with nature and their senses. They cared more about people’s feelings and promoted a life of unity and peace.

In Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington, we are presented with the foul treatment of the aboriginal people by the English colonizers. The aboriginal people were dehumanized throughout Australian history. They were treated without respect and weren’t given the same resources that the colonizers and nobles were given. These aboriginal people were the first colonizers who deserve to freely roam the land that they built their own civilizations on for many years before the English men came along. Molly was born to an aboriginal mother but a white father who was in charge of inspecting the rabbit-proof fence. Due to the fact that the three main characters Molly, Gracie, and Daisy are half aboriginal and half white, they were placed in the Moore River Settlement School. This school is strictly for half-aboriginal because they are believed to be “worthy” of an education due to their half white roots. This proves the discrimination that fully aboriginal children faced because they didn’t even get the chance to have an education. It is as if these European officials are trying to create minions who will continue to spread and implement their guidelines, foul morals, and materialized ways of life.

Molly, Garcie, and Daisy were separated from their families and loved ones. They were sent off to a distant school in which they would have to learn how to conform to the ways of Western Civilization. They would become “brainwashed” by the ways of the English men and would grow further and further away from their aboriginal roots. Molly, the eldest, decided that they needed to escape this school and head back home to their aboriginal loved ones. Molly was so desperate to go home that she was risking the chance of being placed in the “boob” jail in which she would receive a harsh punishment and be beaten up by the advisors and administrators.

Molly is wise and used her aboriginal roots and instincts to successfully guide the girls back home. Aboriginal people are very in touch with the elements of nature and the trails back home. She used her senses of nature and place for survival during the rigorous journey across the barren, dangerous land of Australia. These girls faced adverse conditions such as dangerous creatures, weather conditions, and treacherous landscapes. Yet, they persevered and found the path back to their life of peace and serenity amongst nature. These girls successfully escaped the manifestation and guidelines of Western civilization that the English colonizers were trying to brainwash them with.

The title of the book is significant because Molly remembered that her father is in charge of monitoring the habit proof fence which keeps out the mass population of rabbits from flooding into the civilized land. In a sense, this fence is symbolic because the Aboriginal people are fenced in from European civilization, resources, and materials. Only the “worthy” are taken in to the other side of the fence in which they are given a proper education. The remaining Aboriginal people who are on the other side of the fence are discriminated against, looked down upon, and dehumanized by the new comers who believe that they are superior to the others. This book teaches a lesson to never give in to oppression of rules that civilization and westernization tries to put you under. Rather, you must be wise and take a risk in order to pursue the life that you wish too. Molly refused to succumb to her fate amongst civilization and decided to return to her pure, moral roots where she felt most comfortable.

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(Image: Follow the Rabbit-proof fence; Source: Out Now Movies)


  1. Hi Sim,
    I really enjoyed reading your post about “Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence”- after reading this I definitely want to go take it out of the library! I find it so ironic how the Europeans believed they were doing good and making the lives of the Aboriginal people “better” when in reality they were forcing their way onto their land, completely disrespecting and de-humanizing them. Your description of the book, and of the struggles Molly, Gracie, and Daisy endured was really detailed and well-written and I liked how you went into depth about the symbolism of the title 🙂

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