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The theme of this story is the danger of using coercion to get someone to submit to one's will. From the time Henry arrives, he manipulates Nellie and her relationship with Jill. On the surface, he appears harmless, but beneath, he is like the fox, a cunning predator. Henry masterminds Jill's death right in front of Nellie and Jill's father, knowing that neither of them will be able to hold him responsible for Jill's death. Getting rid of Jill is essential to Henry's devious plan to overpower Nellie. Nellie submits to Henry because she feels she has no other option, and this is where the danger lies. Henry has taken away Nellie's free will, and even though Nellie agrees to go to Canada with Henry, her heart is not in it. Henry has manipulated the whole situation, and Nellie is going to resent him for it.
The fox symbolizes male domination of women. Nellie is unable to shoot the fox when she does catch up with it because she is mesmerized by his "demon eyes". Nellie is unble to control the fox's destructive behavior just as she cannot control Henry's.
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