7. "We'll Never Let Him Go"
At 6pm, the hungry and tired farmers stopped the digging machines. They were still stubborn about not giving up until they caught Mr. Fox though. They decided that instead of digging him out, they would starve him out by keeping constant watch of the hole. The farmers sent word down to their respective farms for tents, sleeping bags, and food.
8. The Foxes Begin to Starve
Soon, the farmers were set up outside of the giant hole; they each had a tent set up and sat outside of it eating large, delicious dinners. Down in the hole, the hungry foxes could smell the food. The Small Foxes wanted to crawl up and steal some, but it was too dangerous. After dinner, the farmers decided that they would take shifts watching the hole while the others slept. They realized that the foxes could dig themselves out somewhere else, and they called the workers on their farms to surround the hill on all sides with guns and flashlights. The next morning, all of the farmers came out of their tents again and sat near the hole with their guns. Mr. Fox checked intermittently to see if they were still there, but every time he checked he could still smell them.
9. Mr. Fox Has a Plan
This went on for three days and nights. The foxes grew weaker without any food or water. Mr. Fox had another idea and told his children to start digging with him. They left Mrs. Fox behind because she was too weak to dig.
10. Boggis's Chicken House Number One
Mr. Fox told his children to dig in a certain direction but wouldn't tell them where they're going in case the plan didn't work and they were disappointed. They dug and dug until Mr. Fox told them to start digging upwards. Then, he stopped them entirely and pushed up on the ground above them. He pushed up a wooden plank and he and the Small Foxes realized that the plan had worked - they were in Boggis's chicken house. The foxes ran to drink water from the chickens' water trough and then Mr. Fox picked three hens and killed them quickly. They climbed back into the hole and Mr. Fox sent one of the Small Foxes back to Mrs. Fox with the chickens.
11. A Surprise for Mrs. Fox
Mrs. Fox was resting where Mr. Fox and the Small Foxes left her. When the Small Fox arrived with the hens, Mrs. Fox thought she's dreaming. The Small Fox convinced her that she is not dreaming though and told her about Mr. Fox's plan. She was excited and began to plan a feast. Meanwhile, Mr. Fox instructed the three remaining Small Foxes to keep digging.
Mr. Fox and the three Small Foxes kept digging, energized by thoughts of the feast that would await them. Suddenly, they heard a voice ask, "Who goes there?" (46). However, it was just Badger - one of Mr. Fox's friends. Badger told Mr. Fox that ever since the three farmers staked out the whole area waiting for him, none of the other burrowing animals have been able to hunt, and they were all starting to starve. Mr. Fox quickly promised that Badger's family and all the other families affected by the farmers were invited to the feast tonight. Mr. Fox filled Badger in on the plan to steal the food for the feast from the farmers and Badger's child Small Badger ran off to tell everyone.
The title of Chapter 7 immediately grabs the reader's attention as it is the only chapter titled with a quote and it seems to imply that the farmers catch Mr. Fox in the chapter. However, in reality, they simply keep him trapped.
Dahl makes an interesting choice in this section by showing the audience that Farmer Bean has not always thought of everything; when Boggis asks him if he thought about a way to keep the foxes from digging out the other side of the hill, Dahl writes, "'Of course I did,' said Bean, pretending he had" (32). This scene takes away from Bean's cleverness, perhaps to contrast him with Mr. Fox, who comes up with this option and even succeeds in digging his family out in a sense.
In Chapter 9, Dahl sidelines the only female included on the list of main and supporting characters, having Mrs. Fox stay home as she is too weak to accompany Mr. Fox and the Small Foxes in the plan to dig their way to the farmers' storehouses. Dahl has been criticized for his depiction of females throughout his works generally as either weak (like Mrs. Fox and perhaps Mabel, the woman who works for Farmer Bean) or wicked (as in Dahl's famous work The Witches, among others).
Some audiences, especially children, might criticize Mr. Fox's parenting style throughout the book, but especially in Chapter 10. As they dig to Boggis's Chicken House Number One, he refuses to tell his three young children where they are going because he says that they will get too excited by hearing it and might be extremely disappointed if the plan then doesn't work out. Though his plan succeeds in the end, he chooses to keep information from his children at a time when they have been starving and could be entering a dangerous situation. By showing the Small Foxes acceptance of this, Dahl demonstrates his beliefs about the structure of power and information proper or necessary in the relationship between parents and children.
While there is clear irony in the foxes stealing food from the farmers while they wait for them to starve, there is a secondary irony in Mr. Fox's hypocritical behavior toward other animals. Though he seems to hate the farmers for hunting him, and though he later compares himself to them by saying he is not trying to kill them, he has no problem killing chickens from Boggis's Chicken House. The reader is left to wonder if the chickens have (or had) complex thoughts and feelings about their situation and relationship with the humans in the story, as the foxes do.