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Warning: This resource may contain references to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may have passed away.

11 — The escape

In this sequence the students will read or have read to them Chapter 8 of Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence. The girls escape from the Moore River Native Settlement and follow the rabbit-proof fence back to Jigalong, a distance of more than 1500 kilometres. They are helped by some people along the way but almost always reported to the authorities afterwards. The chapter contains copies of correspondence between the police and government officials.

Activity 1: Take a walk around the local area

Take the students for a walk around the school or the local area. Instruct them to collect images on the way by sketching or taking photographs. After returning to the classroom, ask them to write about what they saw on the walk. Descriptions of at least three items or scenes should be included and up to three images may be selected. Students share their recounts, descriptions and images. Briefly discuss what was recounted, what was described and the images that were selected.

Place the students in small groups and, allowing only four minutes for each item, have them discuss: 

Have the students make a rough map of the walk and add compass directions.

Share the group responses in a whole-class discussion.  ACELT1613

Activity 2: Comparing their walk to the journey in the book

After reading the first ten pages of the chapter, have the students compare their walk and what they noticed with the journey made by the three girls. Ask them to write answers to the following questions:

In small groups, the students discuss their responses to the questions and how the author attempts to influence the reader.  ACELY1709ACELY1801

Throughout this chapter the author develops a picture of Molly’s connection to the land. The author describes and lists the vegetation and landscape in great detail, much more than is needed to help the reader visualise the landscape. Find these descriptions in the text and discuss how each one contributes to the whole text and to the understanding of the journey described in the chapter.

What other reasons could the author have for including these descriptions? (Perhaps she is showing what Molly is noticing as she passes, demonstrating her knowledge of the land and how this is assisting her on the journey, or she could be demonstrating what Molly and other children will lose if they are removed from their country.)  ACELY1801

Students may research some of the plants mentioned to get a picture of what the landscape looks like. Have them choose a small, vegetated section of the school playground and write a short description of it, modelled on a description in the book.  ACELY1714

Students edit their own and each other’s work before publishing. Provide guidance for the features to be addressed in the editing process. These descriptions could be laminated and placed on stakes in the section of the playground that is described, on the day of the museum opening.  ACELY1715 

Pause periodically to plot the girls’ journey back to Jigalong and update the timeline. Annotations may be drafted during the pauses, then edited later in small groups and published in a suitable form using previously established criteria. 

Activity 3: Looking at the way language is used in the book

In previous sequences students have completed brief activities about text cohesion, including the use of synonyms. In Chapter 8 many noun groups have been used in place of ‘Molly, Daisy and Gracie’. Have the students jot down all of the substituted noun groups as they are reading or being read to. You should first model the expectation. For example, on page 75: Molly, Daisy and Gracie; the girls; the girls; page 76: she and her two sisters; Molly, Daisy and Gracie; they; the three girls.  ACELA1520

After reading the chapter, the students compare their lists and talk about how these substitutions may be defined as objective, ‘Molly, Daisy and Gracie’ and ’the three girls’, or subjective ‘the absconders’ and ‘the runaways’.Locate in the text the subjective words from their lists and talk about the contexts in which they are used. For example, ‘the absconders’ is used when Mrs Flanagan reports the children after helping them. Discuss the way objective and subjective language is used by the author to influence readers.  ACELA1518ACELA1517

Activity 4: Completing a character profile and writing diary entries

Explain to the students that when historians or authors are conducting a historical inquiry, they will sometimes use diaries as primary source materials. Diaries are interesting as they provide a window into the mind of the writer at a particular point in time and can provide clues about the writer’s character. Chapter 8 has been written as an account reconstructed from the memories of Molly Craig and the contents of documents such as correspondence and news reports in the public record.

Students choose one of the following characters from the novel – Molly, Gracie, Daisy, Mrs Flanagan, Mr Neville or A.T. Hungerford – and work with others who have chosen the same character to complete a character profile using the Character profile and diary worksheet. Model for the students how to write a diary entry and discuss some examples with the class. Students think/pair/share some of the events where characters have different points of view. They then complete diary entries for their chosen character (four days or events from Chapter 8).  ACHASSI133

Publish these diary entries as paper diaries (students could write in ink in the handwriting style of the day to try to make them look authentic) or videos of interviews with the characters could be made. The diaries could be added to the class timeline but be labelled to indicate that they are mock-ups.  ACHASSI133