The Doe is a recurring entity that seems to guide Max Caulfield throughout the game. It appears in Episode 1: Chrysalis and Episode 2: Out of Time, Episode 4: Dark Room and determinant in Episode 5: Polarized.
The doe is believed to be a personification of Rachel Amber's soul. This interpretation is supported by comments made by the co-directors of the game in their commentary. However, it is also likely that the doe is Max's spirit animal.
The doe spirit leads Max towards the bench near the lighthouse during her second vision of the storm hitting Arcadia Bay and disappears as Max gets close to it.
Episode Two - "Out of Time" Edit
The doe is mentioned in conversation between Max and Samuel Taylor, Blackwell's janitor. Though she excludes the details of her sighting, Samuel believes that what Max saw was her "Spirit Animal". He says that he believes his own totem is the squirrel, and says there is nothing strange about Max knowing her animal.
Max sees the doe in the American Rust Junkyard. It appears directly over the burial site of Rachel Amber, which has led many to believe that the doe is Rachel in spirit form. The doe moves up the hill towards the grassy area of the junkyard. Max can follow and take an optional photo, if she is quick enough before the next train rolls by, scaring the doe off into the bushes.
Chloe and Max discover Rachel Amber's body in the junkyard, after finding her photographs in the Dark Room. The doe watches the two from a distance as Chloe cries over her dead friend's shallow grave. It bows its head and fades away.
In the "Sacrifice Arcadia Bay" ending, three does can bee seen, which are now free and standing among the ruins, nearby the road.
Max's pink shirt in the first episode reads "Jane Doe" with the white silhouette of a doe representing the word "doe"; in the second episode, she wears a white shirt with the image of a doe on the chest of the shirt.
In the garage of the Price household, David Madsen's hunting lifestyle is revealed through a photograph of him posing with a dead deer and the head of a deer mantled on the wall. Samuel is of the mind that the doe that Max saw in the first episode is her guide, as he believes a squirrel is his.
It was confirmed in the developer commentary by the developers, that the doe is linked to Rachel, and in a way is her presence, guiding Max. They confirmed that this is also evident by the subtle hints and clues given to the player in the game, such as the fact the doe is linked to the burial site of Rachel, and so on.
There are many theories surrounding the true meaning of the doe in the game. The first is that the doe is the spirit of Rachel Amber. This could be likely considering that it appears over her burial site, and again when the body of Rachel is discovered. However, it is also possible that Rachel's spirit animal is that of the Blue Butterfly, due to the fitting personality traits for that animal in comparison with the doe.
The second likely theory is that the doe is simply Max's spirit animal sent to guide her through her time-travel ordeal. It leads her to the burial site days before the discovery of the body, and bows its head in peaceful reverence for the dead when Max and Chloe find the body. Max's personality traits fit far better with the doe spirit animal than that of Rachel, making it likely that it is her true spirit animal, or totem.
It could also be that these two theories are linked and that the spirit of Rachel presents itself as a doe as Max's spirit guide.
- If Max attempts to rewind the segment where the doe first appears in the junkyard, Max will comment that the rewind does not affect the doe, who remains in the last place it stopped prior to the rewind.
- When you check the photograph Max takes of the doe in "Out of Time", the doe is not in the photograph.
- In the junkyard, the doe seems to appear and get up off the ground when Max comes close enough. Actually, the doe is waiting as soon as the junkyard level begins: you can spot her from behind, waiting on the ground, if you go near the stranded blue boat next to the bus.
- In popular culture in the west, the idea of a "spirit animal" is a misconstrued one adopted from the western study and appropriation of one or more Native American spiritual cultures, such as the type practiced by the Metis-Anishinaabe. Outside of the western perspective, deer are represented in numerous mythologies around the world.
- Celts believe deer were deities in disguise. Deers in ancient and modern cultures, particularly in artwork, typically represent strength or sacrifice of the innocent in rituals. Male deers, stags, are usually represented by heraldry.