The next morning at dawn, Hazel and Fiver head up the hill to the warren. When they arrive, they find all the other rabbits excitedly waiting their return, having heard Blackberry’s exciting tale of Fiver’s vision, and of finding Hazel in the drain. Hazel is limping a bit, but after resting a moment, runs down into the warren rather quickly. The rabbits sniff and nuzzle and tussle with Hazel, delighted to have him back.
Hazel, through his endless schemes and seemingly infinite inability to avoid death, is becoming more than just a Chief to his band of rabbits—he is becoming a beloved hero, much like El-ahrairah.
In the afternoon, Hazel calls the whole group into the Honeycomb and announces that he is going to journey to Efrafa soon to try once more to bring back enough does for the warren. He says that he and Blackberry have a plan—but that he is reluctant to share it, should something go wrong and any others get taken into Efrafa and made to talk.
Hazel wants to try again at Efrafra, and though he hasn’t experienced the place for himself, he knows that in order to be successful this go-round, their group will have to prepare for the worst and be on the defensive.
Holly speaks up. He apologizes for having to speak against Hazel, but states that he cannot imagine a return to Efrafa being anything other than a “complete disaster.” The rabbits quarrel amongst themselves for a little bit—some believe “Hazel-rah” is right, while others side with Holly. When it is quiet once again, Hazel says that returning to Efrafa is the only way to ensure the survival of their warren—they have all faced enough danger since leaving Sandleford to prepare them for something like this.
As Hazel considers starting yet another perilous journey—just days after a brush with death—his choice can be seen as brave or foolish depending on how one looks at it. His determination and confidence not just in himself but in his fellow rabbits is heartening, and yet his choice to ignore Holly’s wisdom and warnings is slightly foolhardy.
Fiver and Bigwig add their voices in support of Hazel’s plan, as do Silver and Pipkin, citing their loyalty to Hazel. Blackberry scurries down into the Honeycomb—he has been talking with Kehaar, and they have created a plan which will leave General Woundwort looking “remarkably silly.” Bluebell declares that he wants to come to satisfy his curiosity—he wonders if Bigwig is going to “dress up as a hrududu and drive all the does across the field.”
Though the details of the plan are vague, it seems aimed at Woundwort, and an attempt to discredit or expose him. To stamp out authoritarianism, the rabbits know, to some degree, they must start at its root.
Hazel concludes the meeting and heads up to talk to Kehaar. He asks if Kehaar really means to help them get the does out of Efrafa—Kehaar promises to help “get mudders,” even though the instinct to return to “Peeg Vater” is stronger than ever. He says that once the mission is complete, he will go to the ocean and not return until the autumn. Hazel thanks Kehaar for his loyalty and promises the mission will be over soon. Bigwig pokes his head out of the warren to see what Hazel and Kehaar are up to. Hazel tells him to go warn the others that their expedition will leave at daybreak tomorrow—each rabbit is free to stay or go as he pleases.
Yet another chapter in the rabbits’ epic journey begins. Though they have all been through a lot and have suffered injury, terror, and heartbreak, Hazel is determined to bounce back and do what’s right on behalf of his people. In this way, his resolve in the face of danger and defeat—and to some degree his folly—mirror that of some of literature’s great heroes, such as Odysseus and Captain Ahab.