Study Guide

Fox Man in The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story

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Fox Man

Crazy Like a Fox

National Lampoon's Animal House is a confusing title, because it's not about animals or a zoo at all; it's about frat guys acting like animals in a zoo. In The Zookeeper's Wife, on the other hand, even though there are no toga parties—that we're aware of—we see many people who named after animals, and we see many people given animal names.

Ryszard's nickname, Ryś, means "lynx." Magdalena is given the code name "Starling." But by the time Fox Man shows up, they're not even trying. They just call him the Fox Man. His real name is "Witold Wróblewski" (21.7) which sounds like someone who might step in for Hagrid to substitute teach a Care of Magical Creatures class. (For the curious, the pronunciation of that mouthful is VEE-told vroob-LEV-skee.)

The Fox Man's job is to build a fur farm on the grounds of the zoo, because Nazis love looking fabulous in fox-fur stoles. However, he is Polish, so he becomes close friends with Antonina and Jan, who welcome him into their home. He thinks it's strange that they "use animal names for people and people's names for animals!" (24.11), even though they always call him the Fox Man and he is more in touch with animals than anyone else, including the zookeepers.

They also never let birds eat from their hair, but he sure does, just like Cinderella after partying too hard at a ball.

We don't get to know too much else about the Fox Man. He provides a little bit of color to the story. He also has a gray cat named Balbina, who acts "as if she has her own moral code" (21.12). Considering the fact that animals have no moral code (or do they?), we're not exactly sure what this means, but it appears that Antonina expects animals to have the same moral code as humans.

At the very end of the book, the Fox Man helps Antonina escape the villa. When they return, they find Balbina living in the woods nearby, but kitty doesn't want to come with them. In this case, we see where the so-called moral code of humans and animals lines up: all of them just want to be free.

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