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Free Study Guide for Watership Down by Richard Adams

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WATERSHIP DOWN LESSON PLAN / BOOK NOTES / ANALYSIS

CHAPTER 8 - The Crossing

Summary

The rabbits sit at the edge of the bank unable to decide whether to go further upstream or to cross where they are. Some want to stay where they are and rest awhile. Bigwig is about to make a sarcastic comment when Hazel tells him to swim across and climb the big hill to see how far the wood stretches. Bigwig returns quickly to say they must cross right away as a big dog is loose in the woods. There is a problem, however, with getting Fiver and Pipkin across as both of them are too exhausted to be able to swim the distance. Blackberry finds a flat board which is stuck in the mud just a little way upstream. He suggests that they use it to carry Fiver and Pipkin across the water. None of the rabbits understand him at first, but when he manages to wedge the board loose, Bigwig gets the idea and pushes the board to the other bank. Most of the rabbits do not quite understand what has happened, but Blackberry suggests that they ought to remember the idea in case they need to use it another time.

Notes

We see a new side to Blackberry here as he comes through as the intellect of the group, one capable of generating new ideas and figuring out how to carry them out. Bigwig also catches on quickly. Hazelís initial request that Bigwig swim ahead to view the land was intended to give him something to do to keep him from causing an argument, but it ultimately saved their lives. His strength in pushing the board across the water also saves Pipkin and Fiver, so Bigwig is beginning to feel indispensable which will help him to be a part of the group rather than just going along because he has no choice. Fiver also understands what happened on the water even though he is quite sure that Pipkin does not.



CHAPTER 9 - The Crow and the Beanfield

Summary

The rabbits spend the day sleeping uneasily in a hedgerow. Hazel feels uncomfortable about their exposure and explores a nearby hill where he finds a field of fragrant plants that he is unfamiliar with. Bigwig and Silver seem to be familiar with them however, so they wake all the rabbits and lead them to the hill. When they get there, they are attacked by a crow. Hazel and Bigwig work together to attack the crow and drive it off. Bigwig encourages the attack, saying that the crows only attack helpless rabbits, but are actually cowards. After the excitement, the rabbits sleep safely among the bean plants.

Notes

The relationship between Hazel and Bigwig continues to develop. In this adventure the two are working together rather than Hazel sending Bigwig off to prevent him from starting an argument. Bigwig is accepting Hazelís leadership even as Hazel turns to him for his Owsla experience, skills and advice.


CHAPTER 10 - The Road and The Common

Summary

The rabbits come to a highway, a manmade concept most of them have never seen before. Bigwig explains that they are for the hrududil (motor vehicles) to run on and that neither the road nor the hrududil are dangerous to rabbits. Blackberry, however, spots a mass of fur on the road and is skeptical. Big wig explains that they are only dangerous at night because of the lights which will paralyze an animal and prevent it from moving out of the way. Hazel decides to simply cross it and get away from it.

They arrive at Newton Common, a rather barren land for rabbits who need groundcover for both food and protection. While resting under a bank, Hawkbit, Acorn, and Speedwell approach Hazel. Hawkbit acts sneaky as if he is up to something when he tells Hazel that the three of them think Fiver is wrong. They donít believe Hazel knows where they are going and they want to go back. Hazel is trying to reason with them when Bigwig comes along. He takes charge of punishing the three mutants while Fiver takes Hazel to the top of the bank. In the distance they can see a line of hills. Fiver says that the hilltop is their destination.

Notes

Bigwig is fully committed to Hazelís quest now as he not only works with him but also enforces Hazelís leadership, preventing the rebellion of any rabbits who get impatient over the duration of their journey.

 

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