Rabbit Proof Fence

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How does Noyce position the reader to sympathise with the three protagonists?

Throughout Rabbit-Proof Fence, Noyce encourages the viewer to understand and imaginatively experience the story through the feelings of the children. The narrative structure, visual symbolism, camera angles, music, characterisation and use and absence of language are techniques that Noyce uses to position the reader to sympathise with the three protagonists. In the scene in which the children arrive at the Moore River Settlement, Noyce shows what happens in a way in which the viewer empathises with the children’s feelings of fear and alienation. In the scene in which the children find and grasp the fence as a known way home, the viewer shares the desperate hope of both the children and their mother. In the final scene in which Maude and the Maude’s mother confront Constable Riggs, Noyce has firmly positioned the reader to identify and sympathise with the Maude and the Indigenous culture. Noyce uses specific techniques to position the reader to identify with the three protagonists who are depicted as young, innocent and powerless victims of indifferent colonial settlers.

In Rabbit-Proof Fence the children and also the reader learn to trust what is seen rather than what is said. The film is intensely visual and visual symbols guide the viewer. The beauty and power of the land and the children’s joyous relationship with country and family is powerfully shown at the start of the film. When the children arrive at Moore River Settlement, the Nun’s words are seemingly reassuring when she quotes “Hello dears, you poor things, such a long way you must be exhausted.” However the reality of the mission is shown in the rigid layout of buildings, the overcrowded rooms, the shared bucket for toileting and the uniform dress. When the children witness the punishment of a child who has tried to escape, they learn to trust what they see rather than the Christian platitudes that they hear from...
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