Watership Down

by

Richard Adams

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Watership Down: Chapter 49 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
With their leader gone and the threat of the dog lingering in the air, the Efrafans cannot renew their attack on Watership Down. None of them have any motivation beyond saving their own lives. Campion leads the rabbits back to Efrafa, though there are only fourteen or fifteen in the group. As they make their way back to their warren, they are set upon by elil, and lose many of their numbers, including Vervain, to foxes and stoats.
Things end poorly for the Efrafans, whose decimated troops make their way back, shell-shocked and exhausted, to a warren with no leader and no purpose. Without the violent systems of control which shaped their lives, the Efrafans have lost their sense of belonging and order.
Themes
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Violence and Power Theme Icon
Authoritarianism vs. Democracy Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Groundsel remains at Watership Down, having surrendered to Fiver after the dog’s attack. A few more Efrafans followed him in the confusion, and they, too, are welcomed into Watership Down without much fanfare—the Watership Down rabbits are too focused on their own. Bigwig is near death, and Hyzenthlay helps nurse him back to health. Hazel is nowhere to be found, and Pipkin leads a small group to Nuthanger to search for him, but they go only a short distance before running into their leader himself.
Watership Down is a democracy, and as such welcomes even former enemies, as long as they are committed to taking on the values of the warren. As the Watership Down rabbits recover from their battle, they are scattered and beaten but still motivated to find their leader and fight their way back to normalcy.
Themes
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Authoritarianism vs. Democracy Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Back at the warren, Hazel immediately goes to Bigwig. Though the larger rabbit is weak and hardly conscious, Hazel tells him how proud he is of him. Bigwig jokes, in Kehaar’s accent, that he has “finish Meester Voundvort,” and Hazel helps him up to silflay. Bigwig, sitting in the grass, announces that he’s done with fighting for good. He asks how Hazel got back to the warren, and when Hazel replies that a man drove him back in a hrududu, Bigwig does not believe him. Hyzenthlay, though, appears to corroborate Hazel’s story—she reminds Bigwig of her vision back in Efrafa.
The chapter ends on a playful note as Hazel and Bigwig reunite, joking with one another and rejoicing in one another’s presence—and the peace they have worked together to bring.
Themes
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon