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Free Study Guide for Watership Down by Richard Adams

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CHAPTER 11 - Hard Going


They reach the floor of a big hollow where they can feed a little. Blackberry tells Hazel that Hawkbit and Speedwell challenged Bigwig, wanting to know who is actually the Chief Rabbit. In response Bigwig bit him. Hazel says he isnít sure who the chief rabbit is, but he disagrees with Bigwigís tactics. He says he would prefer to have the others follow because they want to, not because they feel like they have no choice. Hazel goes to Acorn and Hawkbit (who are occupied with making an exaggerated case of Hawkbitís wound) and promises that he will soon get them out of the plight that they are in. He promises that if they follow him, he will have them out by sunrise. They spend the night climbing their way out of the pit. By morning, they reach the other side of the common where they find a big field of thick grass. Blackberry pronounces Hazel a definite Chief Rabbit. The would-be rebels have no comment, but they dash out into the field to enjoy the grass.


Hazel has established his leadership. The rebel rabbits do not apologize, but their silence is akin to admitting that Hazel was right.

CHAPTER 12 - The Stranger in the Field


The rabbits are enjoying the field. Hazel talks them into digging some shallow burrows, called scrapes, under a bank so they can have shelter from the coming rain. Usually the does in a warren do the serious digging, so the need to dig holes comes as a bit of a surprise. Blackberry comes across a "man-track" in the field, but does not understand why it would be there as there is little evidence of human activity of any kind. Shortly after sundown a strange rabbit appears in the field. The rabbit seems unusually big and healthy with sleek, glossy fur. He tells them his name is Cowslip and that it had been assumed that Hazelís group would want to live in the field. Cowslip notices the narrow, uncomfortable nature of the shallow holes and tells Hazel that they are all welcome to join his warren where there are enough empty burrows for them all.

Hazel has a council with Blackberry, Dandelion, Bigwig and Fiver. The rabbits arenít sure whether to trust the newcomer or not, but they realize that if all the rabbits are as big as cowslip, they could have easily overpowered and killed Hazelís group if they had wanted to. They decide to at least investigate the invitation. Only Fiver resists. He says they should have nothing to do with the new rabbit or his warren and that they ought to leave the place at once. However, he realizes that his words are falling on deaf ears.


The field is the rabbitsí first attempt to establish a new home for themselves. It should be an ideal place, but it is suspiciously empty of any sigh of rabbit enemies except for them man. Furthermore, they have a limited view of their surroundings as they do not see the strange rabbit until he is almost on top of the. This location will be an example of what they donít want for themselves.


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