The Rabbits Literary Elements

The Rabbits Literary Elements


Allegory, children's

Setting and Context

The literal setting is unknown, but setting of the allegory is during the colonization of Australia (1788-1890)

Narrator and Point of View

The marsupials: limited first-person narrators who allow for deep understanding of their viewpoints due to the limited narrative.

Tone and Mood

Sombre, wistful, reminiscent, sad

Protagonist and Antagonist

The marsupials are the protagonists and narrators, their peaceful lives disrupted, while the rabbits are the antagonists, destroying marsupial land and wreaking havoc.

Major Conflict

The major conflict is between the rabbits and marsupials; the marsupials don't want their land taken over and the nature destroyed, but the rabbits continue this despite the lack of consent. This leads to fighting between the two groups, and later on, the alienation of the marsupials in their own country.


There is not any major conflict in the story as it is largely the narrator recollecting past events, but one of the most climactic moment is near the very end of the book, when the marsupials finally realise just how much damage has been caused and lament, asking who will save them from the rabbits.


There is foreshadowing quite early in the text, in the line "But our old people warned us; be careful. They won't understand the right ways. They only know their own country." This foreshadows the harm the rabbits later cause, ruining the country and taking away marsupial land.


There is some definite understating of events in the quote "We liked some of the food, and liked some of the animals. But some of the food made us sick, and some of the animals scared us." While the way these lines are phrased, one would assume that the sickness and fear caused by the rabbits wasn't anything major, but when one looks into the history of the allegory, the effects of the imported goods were actually very harmful to the Aboriginal people, much more so than the quote suggests.


Since the entire text is an allegory, there are many allusions to Australian history throughout it. For example, the references to the animals and food are allusions to the imported animals and Western food that the Australians brought into the country, which upset the natural ecosystems already present. The line "Sometimes we had fights. We lost the fights." is an allusion to the Australian frontier wars between the settlers and Aboriginal people; and so on. The entire text is almost an allusion in itself, for everything mentioned was a real happening in Australian history.


There is a major juxtaposition between the imagery of the rabbits compared to the imagery of the marsupials. The rabbits are depicted in a very stylistic manner, drawn with only sharp corners and straight lines. Everything that surrounds them is covered in labels and numbers; everything is catalogued. Comparatively, the marsupials are drawn in a simple and appealing manner, and everything that surrounds them is unimposed nature. This shows the reader the difference between the two peoples and the vast variation of their viewpoints.


There is a paradox between the ideologies of the two; the marsupials, even though they are the narrators of the story, never try and tell the reader that they are right. Despite their peaceful ways, and their lack of violent response to the rabbits, they remain neutral. Meanwhile, the rabbits are blatantly convinced that their way is the correct one, and they proudly display their motto, 'Might equals right' along many of the pages. However, despite one side telling us that they are right, we are ultimately drawn to the side that has never stated anything of the sort, causing a paradox of viewpoint.


There is a major parallel between the viewpoints of the two opposing groups in the story. The rabbits are highly factual and focus on efficiency, while the marsupials focus on nature and peace. These two ideals clash greatly and ultimately, the peaceful ideologies of the marsupials result in their demise, and the destruction of the rabbits results in their triumph.

Metonymy and Synecdoche

There is very little metonymy or synecdoche throughout the text, which is largely due to its literal manner, and also partly due to its brevity. However, in the line "The rabbits spread across the country. No mountain could stop them; no desert, no river", the mountains, deserts, and rivers mentioned could represent efforts and resistance to stop the rabbits, rather than the geological features.


There is no personification in the written text of the book, however there is some present in the drawn sections. Many of the machines that the rabbits are depicted with have some sort of face; especially on page 13, where a large smokestack-like machine looks very similar to a rabbit. This makes the reader associate the machines with the rabbits, and makes the machines almost become representations of them.

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