§ion=&combo2=&text1=&text2=&SocNetUsername=&SocNetPassword=&authCode=& 7th Decade Thoughts: Watership Down by Richard Adams

7th Decade Thoughts

Thoughts about books, politics and history (personal and otherwise), pictures I've taken and pictures I've edited.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Watership Down by Richard Adams

This was a reread and I listened to it. Surprised again how good a story it is. Bought copies for my kids to read to their kids. I'd forgotten how the rabbits made friends with other animals, particularly the gull who speaks with a Scandinavian accent. Rabbit behavior is pretty accurate I think--he uses a book on rabbit behavior as a reference-- and human psychology is not only good but uplifting. 

Hazel is the self-abnegating hero, the popular "chief rabbit" on the new warren on Watership Down (a real place in Hampshire--don't think I knew that before) and Fiver is the prophet/seer/Cassandra-type character whom Hazel learns to trust. Bigwig is the muscle, not as smart as the leaders but a warrior with a heart. Woundwort is the rabbit scared from his upbringing who knows nothing about controlling rabbits except force. 

The plot is an heroic one. Fiver predicts disaster for their current warren but the leaders don't listen so they leave. Gradually Hazel grows in his leadership position. They find a warren that welcomes them but it's "unnatural" in that they survive on the leftover veggies a farmer leaves. They find a good place to build but then need to get some does--warren won't last with no babies. But then they come up against Efrafa, a huge warren that is run almost like a prison camp by General Woundwort. Knowing Efrafa has too many does, a party goes to request immigrants from among the females. Of course, that's not allowed. Trickery ensues. Rabbits are after all traditionally tricksters and at night in the warren a favorite pastime is telling and listening to trickster stories. 

Kehaar, the gull. plays an important role in their escape from Efrafa, but the rabbits save themselves when a battle party from Efrafa comes to their new warren, led by Woundwart and bent on destruction. There's a lovely chapter near the end where a little girl on the nearby farm rescues Hazel who's nearly killed by the cat and he's returned home in the hrududu (motor vehicle). Woundwort is shown as clearly mad and disappears, assumed dead. 
Strange, but the only character I remember clearly from my first reading was Woundwort.


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