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Free Study Guide for Watership Down by Richard Adams

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FREE SUMMARY FOR WATERSHIP BY RICHARD ADAMS

CONFLICT

Although numerous events take place, the primary conflict is for the rabbits to overcome their individual differences and develop a sense of trust and comradeship that will enable them to build and maintain a home in a safer location.

Protagonist

Hazel

Antagonist

Human and other enemies of rabbits, including certain other rabbits such as Woundwort


Climax

The battle against Woundwort. Some of the rabbits think they should leave the new warren; most along with Hazel are determined to dig in and fight for their new home.

Outcome

Woundwort is defeated with the help of the farmyard dog. The rabbits live happily at Watership Down


SHORT SUMMARY (Synopsis)

Having been persuaded by his mystic brother, Fiver, that their home is in immediate danger, Hazel takes a group of rabbits on a journey to build a new warren. In the course of their journey, they have to learn how to handle new experiences, develop new methods for handling crises, and avoid enemies. Not wanting to travel any further than necessary, they first attempt to make their home with a strange bunch of rabbits who have secrets and weird habits such as collecting farm-grown scraps and hoarding them underground. After nearly losing one of their most crucial members to a wire snare, the rabbits realize that the strange warren has become complacent and dull, unable to forage for themselves, and dependent on the vegetable scraps scattered across the field by a man. The price they pay, however, is that frequently the man sets snares and captures just enough rabbits to satisfy his need at the time. These rabbits live in a state of denial and threaten to kill any rabbit that would make them face the truth of their precarious existence.

After leaving the "tame" warren, the rabbits finally reach Watership Down where they build their new home. One essential element, however, is the presence of does. The rabbits befriend a wounded sea gull who helps them find more rabbits. They try to obtain does both from a nearby farm and from another warren known as Efrafa and located about three miles away. The Efrafa warren is run by a "Hitler" image tyrant who kills all who oppose him and runs a tightly controlled warren with no freedom of movement for the members. The first group of Watership Down or "Honeycomb" rabbits barely escape with their lives. The leader, Hazel, however, having survived his venture onto the farm but with the acquisition of only two does, believes they must make a second try to get some Efrafan does. They devise a carefully organized plot, with only the escape detail left uncertain. Hazel and his band approach the warren by following a river and crossing a bridge on the opposite side of Efrafa from their own home. Under the bridge they find a small boat which becomes their get-away plan.

Hazel and followers get about 10 does out of Efrafa with the help of Kehaar and a thunderstorm. However, Woundwort, the leader of Efrafa tracks them by sending his own soldiers to a previously known position. He loses the element of surprise because a mouse reports his presence to Hazel. The two warrens wage a bitter battle which is won by Hazelís group through the tenacity of his own fighters and the help of the farmyard dog. Some of the Efrafan rabbits are captured and eventually made a part of the Honeycomb. Efrafa becomes a better place under new leadership, and the two warrens send rabbits to start a third warren. The story ends with the rabbits living happily and reasonably untroubled on Watership Down.

 

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