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Free Study Guide for Watership Down by Richard Adams

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CHAPTER 23 - Kehaar


The rabbits have an opportunity to put Hazel’s theory and Bluebell’s story to the test. Bigwig and Silver come across an injured gull. They get Hazel who tries to talk to the bird. It speaks in a guttural language that they can barely understand, but they finally figure out that the bird is starving as its injury is preventing it from moving. They find worms, beetles and other insects for it to eat. The next day they explain to the bird that they are trying to help him and that rabbits do not eat birds. The bird finally agrees to follow them to a safer place. They install him into a hollowed out spot near the end of one of their tunnels and continue taking turns finding food until the bird is healed enough to find his own food. By then they have established a friendship and Hazel is able to explain why he wanted a big bird for a friend.

All of the rabbits at Watership Down are bucks. Hazel points out a fact they are all beginning to be aware of, that all their work is for nothing and they are all doomed in the long run unless they find some does. He wants the bird to fly over the land and find another warren from which they may be able to get some does. Usually when warrens get too big and overcrowded, the rabbits are glad enough to have some of the members move out and start another warren.

The gull, named Kehaar agrees to find the "mudders" for them. The bird flies off and returns several days later with news about two sources for female rabbits. One is a farm just a short ways below the downs where tame rabbits are kept in hutches. The other is the site of a large warren about two days distant. Kehaar describes an "iron road’ and a river, both of which seem to be beyond the location of the warren. Kehaar agrees to show them the way and they choose and embassy consisting of Holly, Silver, Buckthorn and Strawberry.


Fiver makes one of his elusive predictions just before the rabbits depart on their journey. Half asleep, he says that the gifts of El-ahrairah are trickery, great danger and blessing for the warren. The rabbits have also advanced their willingness and ability to communicate with other creatures. They go so far as to procure slugs and insects for the bird even though they find such food disgusting. In order to establish a friendship with the bird, they must refrain from passing judgement on his habits.

CHAPTER 24 - Nuthanger Farm


Hazel is eager for some adventure of his own while his friends are off on their trip to the neighboring warren. He rounds up Pipkin, and the two of them make their way to the farm, asking directions from a rat on the way. When he finds the farm and then the hutches, he talks to a rabbit named Boxwood. Hazel explains that the warren rabbits live as they choose, without men. Boxwood tells how a child sometimes takes them out and puts them in a pen on the grass. The hutch rabbits seem interested in the prospect of getting out of the hutches. Hazel tells them that he has to return to his friends in the hills, but that he will be back soon. On the way out, Hazel and Pipkin are waylaid by a cat. Hazel taunts the cat until it finally springs at them. The two rabbits bolt and race for the down. They spend the night under a bank.


The narrator explains that cat cannot outrun a bolting rabbit, and for some reason, the rabbit cannot make a dash until the other animal does it first. Hazel does realize that these rabbits may be even worse than those in Cowslip’s warren as they have been fed and cared for by men all their lives and will not know how to act in the wild. They are excited by his presence as they lives are very monotonous, but they are not capable of making decisions and acting on them.


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