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A main theme in The Rabbits is environmentalism and the environmental consequences of technology advancements. The Rabbits enter Australia and soon start shaping it to their image, which involves the destruction of much nature and the building of many houses. The marsupials state in their narration, “[the Rabbits] ate our grass, chopped down our trees, and scared away our friends”, which shows the negative impact on the plants and the animals in the country. After the Rabbits have arrived and have begun to change the landscape, such as cutting down trees and building houses, the marsupials then describe the land as “bare and brown”. This shows us the damage the Rabbits have caused through their colonization.
The Rabbits shows us the consequences of colonization and how modern living can greatly impact the environment. Typically, native cultures tend to care about the environment and respect the nature around them - a value which Western society doesn’t tend to prioritize. The text highlights this attitude, showing the reader the extent of the damage caused by construction of modern landscapes, such as the harm caused by freeing land by destroying trees, constructing buildings, and introducing non-native animals to the areas.
The main subject and plot of The Rabbits revolves around the concept of colonization, the colonization of Australia in particular, but could be read as the colonization of any country. The Rabbits represent the British people colonizing the country, while the brown marsupials represent the native people already living there. The story is shown in a light that is negative towards the British people, showing colonialism from the perspective of the native people. Instead of being shown as the ‘start of the modern age’, as many people view colonization to be, it allows the reader to view it from a different perspective and empathize for the narrators who have had their country taken from them.
Disrespect of culture
Another theme in The Rabbits is the disrespect of native culture. The Rabbits blatantly disrespect the marsupials to a great extent, disregarding the fact that Australia is their home and is important to them. They wreak environmental havoc, fight wars against them, and even go so far as to steal their children.
This shows how settlers wishing to colonize a country are often very insensitive and sometimes cruel to the people native to said country. Settlers, in history, have done terrible things to native people, and The Rabbits shows us this.This message shows us what has happened in the past and also acts as a warning, showing us that we shouldn't make the same mistakes. Colonization has caused the near extinction of many indigenous cultures, and The Rabbits shows us this, allowing us to empathize for these cultures and gain a deeper respect through our empathy.
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