Free Study Guide for Watership Down by Richard Adams|
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FREE WATERSHIP DOWN STUDY GUIDE
Creating a safe and healthy home is a basic motif in all cultures and thus
in all literature. As the rabbits travel along, they arrive at several
different locations where one or more rabbits will ask if they can just
"stay here." We see a religious resonance with this theme; recall
that the Hebrew Father Abraham received a message from God to take all
of his family and go to a land that God would show him. In the novel,
the rabbits have no idea where they are headed. Fiverís only direction
is to the high hills in the distance. They have no real sense of how long
it will take them to get there, but Fiver and Hazel believe they will
recognize the right place when they find it. Thus the experiences along
the way show them what they do NOT want in their new home even as they
accumulate new skills that will be put to good use in the Honeycomb.
Another basic cultural motif is the concept of leaving and coming back. Although
the entire novel is a journey, the trip to Efrafa forms a journey within
a journey. This secondary journey has a different motive; those who leave
are expected to bring something back. Although the first group of rabbits
is not criticized for their failure, the success of the second further
establishes leadership roles, and might even be considered a type of "manhood"
rite, especially since the goal of the trip is to acquire females. The
successful bunch must be able to do much more than run when the time comes.
They must arrive successfully, deceive and outsmart the enemy, escape
with and defend both themselves and the does who follow them, and finally
return with evidence of their success that includes physical evidence
and stories that can be told.
Joseph Campbellís hero of the journey myth works very well in this story.
In both the primary journey and the journey to Efrafa, the journey hero
elements are present. They consist of a call, preparation, departure,
the trip itself with unexpected events or help, and the return with some
lesson or insight. Of course, the rabbits never return to Sandleford as
the primary journey is for the purpose of establishing a new home. In
both journeys, however, the hero is the rabbit who is able to accomplish
the goal of the journey successfully both for himself and for the rest
of his group. To be properly identified as a hero, the character must
be trustworthy, creative, courageous, and realistic.
The novel offers great lessons in tolerance, both of the weaker characters
and of characters who are perceived as "different." Had the
rabbits refused to befriend the mouse and the gull, the events at Efrafa
would have had to be written quite differently. Furthermore, the rabbits
not only had to accept and befriend the gull, but had to serve him which
meant helping collect food that was disgusting to the rabbits. The events
show that individuals do similar things differently; being different does
not mean bad, nor does it mean that all should be alike. The rabbits wait
on the gull and supply what he needs, but none of them are expected to
start eating slugs or dead fish.
Limited Omniscience from the perspectives of Hazel, Woundwort or Bigwig, depending on the section of the story involved.
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Ruff, Karen SC. "TheBestNotes on Watership Down".
. 09 May 2017