Free Study Guide for Watership Down by Richard Adams|
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WATERSHIP DOWN STUDY NOTES
Fiver has figured out the story of the strange warren. They were once a big warren, but were nearly killed off by numerous enemies. But a few survived and the farmer got the idea of keeping the rabbits where they were rather than raising them in hutches. So he killed off the other natural enemies of the rabbits and then began feeding them so they would get used to running freely about in the meadow. Whenever he wanted rabbit meat or furs he would simply set a few snares, not enough to kill them all or drive them away. They forgot the ways of wild rabbits and the lessons of their own folk stories. Instead they sang songs and danced in ceremonious greetings. The only rule they had was that no rabbit could ask where another had gone, and no one could ever speak of the shining wire.
Then the Sandleford rabbits showed up. According to Fiver, the stories of their adventures were unwanted because such stories would shame the Cowslip rabbits. But the reason they had invited the Sandleford bunch into their burrow was because it would provide some new rabbits for the snares, thus preserving some of their own lives a little longer.
When Fiver finishes, even Bigwig realizes that he has been wrong. They agree
that they must begin again to head for the distant hills. Just then Strawberry
comes along, running crazily. He wants them to take him with them. They
offer to get Nildro-hain but Strawberry tells them that she too has been
caught by the wires.
The Cowslip rabbits have been living in a state of denial. Rather than solve their problem, they have become a victim of it. They have also become hardened to the idea of death and no longer bother to protect each other. Each time a rabbit is snared, the rest know they will live a bit longer until the next time the man wants a rabbit. The story here begins to have some political overtones, suggesting the dehumanizing of a society that is dulled by unearned provision and then victimized by the very hand that is feeding them. In such an environment, living for the moment and hoarding as much as possible is the primary goal. In the warren, the rabbits regularly hoard the scraps the man scatters for them. This way they are guaranteed a source of food without always having to find it in the meadow.
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Ruff, Karen SC. "TheBestNotes on Watership Down".
. 09 May 2017