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Free Study Guide for Watership Down by Richard Adams

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CHAPTER 32 - Across the Iron Road


The rabbits watch the fox approaches from a distance. Suddenly Bigwig limps off toward it acting as though he is wounded. The action infuriates Hazel because he knows they could easily get away from the fox without endangering any of their lives. The fox seems to be gaining on Bigwig when a rabbit screech comes from the trees. Bigwig returns on the run, unharmed and says to "get out of here." Hazel allows all the rabbits to slip around the edge of the woods, but as soon as they are safe he scolds Bigwig furiously. Bigwig apologizes, saying he doesn’t know what came over him except that he lost his head and felt that if he could make the fox feel like a fool, he himself wouldn’t be so worried about their quest to Efrafa. The screech, however, came from a strange bunch of rabbits, one of whom was captured by the fox. Bigwig had unintentionally led the fox right onto them.

They soon reach and cross the railroad and plan to feed with the rails between themselves and Efrafa. Kehaar urges them to go further into the woods as he has already seen Efrafan patrols and he knows that they patrol both sides of the railroad. Hazel is able to get them into the edge of the woods, but they are too exhausted to go further. After making sure the patrol turned back without crossing the rails, Kehaar agrees to keep watch while they sleep.


Hazel no longer hesitates about giving orders or taking the leadership role, even when it involves scolding one of his companions. Bigwig accepts Hazel completely, even to the extent of apologizing and acknowledging when he has been wrong. Hazel is not a tyrant, however, and relies heavily on the experience, insights, and observations of his companions. Yet, in spite of the foolishness of Bigwig’s action, it will later turn out to have been a good thing as it deterred a patrol from Efrafa that had already begun to tail Hazel and his group. Bigwig thus discovered their existence without them finding out that he is acquainted with Hazel. Had he not done so, the plan for their activities in Efrafa would soon have been ruined.

CHAPTER 33 - The Great River


The rabbits reach the river and Kehaar leads them to a bridge. The rabbits are nervous and fearful of crossing the bridge until Fiver leads the way, telling them that it is harmless. There is plenty of cover along the river, but Hazel is concerned because their plan isn’t quite complete. They have figured out how to get into the warren and get the does out, but not how to disappear afterward. Hazel takes Fiver, Bigwig, Blackberry and Bluebell and they explore upriver a little further where they soon find another bridge under which a small boat is tied up with a rope. Blackberry remembers the experience of the wooden plank which they had used at the beginning of their journey. Soon all the rabbits realize that the boat is the answer to their last puzzle. They plan to chew the rope almost in two, leaving just enough fibers to keep it fast to the bank until all of the rabbits are ready to escape. Then Bigwig leaves for Efrafa to carry out the first two steps of their plan.


The growth of Fiver is quite interesting to "watch." He not only has confidence in his own abilities, but has grown capable of leading the way when others are too frightened to enter into something new. Perhaps in becoming sensitive to his gift, he has been able to hone it so that he has a better interpretation of his perceptions.


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Ruff, Karen SC. "TheBestNotes on Watership Down". . 09 May 2017