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MonkeyNotes Free Study Guide-Watership Down by Richard Adams-Book Notes
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Limited Omniscience from the perspectives of Hazel, Woundwort or Bigwig, depending on the section of the story involved.


(From the hardcover 1972 edition. Publisher: MacMillan)

1. "The Threarah doesn't like anything he hasn't thought of for himself." (13) The chief rabbit.

This represents an attitude that seems to be characteristic of chief rabbits. Hazel has to become a more democratic leader than his examples.

2. "El-ahrairah, your people cannot rule the world, for I will not have it so. All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed." (24) Frith in the gift giving myth told by Dandelion.

The quote is a prophesy of the enmity most of the world will have for wild rabbits but also specifies the gifts of strength, speed, and intelligence which the rabbits are to use to thrive.

3. "Rabbits need dignity and above all the will to accept their fate." Silverweed in the "tame" warren.

The rabbits in this warren have grown accustomed to domestic handouts from humans. Rather than change their ways and use the gifts they have been given to survive on their own, they choose to accept the frequent loss of life to a manset snare. This is contrary to the way the rabbits have been intended to live.

4. "They'd altered what rabbits do naturally because they thought they could do better...You say buck rabbits don't dig...But they could if they wanted to. suppose we had deep, comfortable burrows to sleep in? ...And there's nothing to stop us from having them, except that buck rabbits won't dig. Not can't--won't." (110) Blackberry on top of Watership Down.

Even though the cowslip warren was not a good way for rabbits to live, Blackberry learned something from it--that rabbits can change and adapt to whatever situation they find themselves in if they are simply willing to do so.

5. "I think we ought to do all we can to make these creatures friendly. It might turn out to be well worth the trouble." (135) Hazel after befriending the mouse and protecting it from the hawk.

Following through on Blackberry's notion of making changes, Hazel realizes that they can make friends with other animals, especially those that have useful gifts which they lack. He is hoping to make friends with a bird. His conjecture is foreshadowing of Kehaar.

6. "...from all I've heard of hutch rabbits, they don't take easily to wild life. The truth is, you're just a silly show-off." (171) Fiver upon finding out that Hazel intends to try to get the does from the farm.

Hazel is acting on impulse and on the urge to show that he will not be outdone by Captain Holly. Fiver's outspokenness about it shows growth and an increased confidence in his insights as well as possible fear for Hazel's life.

7. "We all have to meet our match sometime or other." (210) Captain Holly in explaining Efrafa.

He acknowledges that some of the rabbits in that owsla are better than he is. Since he could not beat them, he believes that no one could and they should just stay away. His words are significant because by admitting defeat, he is showing that he should definitely not be the one to return to Efrafa. Also it is foreshadowing as even Woundwort will meet his match one day--in none other than Bigwig.

8. "I have learned that with creatures one loves, suffering is not the only thing for which one may pity them. A rabbit who does not know when a gift has made him safe is poorer than a slug, even though he may think otherwise himself." (234) El-ahrairah after trying to bargain with the Black Rabbit for the lives of his people.

He learns that, first, he cannot bargain with the Black Rabbit, but also that the Black Rabbit only has power to hurt him if he first breaks his will. The answers to the survival of his people are within themselves.

9. "If a rabbit gave advice and the advice wasn't accepted, he immediately forgot it, and so did everyone else." (321) Hyzenthlay's explanation for why Blackavar doesn't recall warning Bigwig about the foxes.

This was a custom in Efrafa and may have been a training intended to prevent internal conflicts or competitions in Woundwort's warren.

10, "If my authority goes, where will yours be in half a day." (371) Woundwort to Vervain when Vervain shows fear at confronting Bigwig.

Woundwort knows that his following even among the owsla is maintained by fear rather than true loyalty.

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