Watership Down

by

Richard Adams

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Watership Down: Chapter 50 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Six weeks later, it is a fine, clear mid-October evening. Fall has come to the fields. The leaves are changing, and some insects have died off. The rabbits are readying themselves for the “hardship” of winter. Hazel and Fiver are sitting atop the down with Holly, Silver, and Groundsel. The Efrafan survivors have been allowed to join the warren and have now adjusted to life at Watership Down well. Fiver has been spending a lot of time alone, and the others sense that he is now more than ever “governed […] by the pulse of [a] mysterious world.” Fiver has mated with Vilthuril and is deeply attached to her.
As things have settled down over the last several months, nature and balance have been restored to the warren, and the Efrafans and Watership Down rabbits have come together in preparation against a shared hardship. The home they have long fought for is now a thriving community, and home to deep friendships and partnerships both old and new.
Themes
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Hyzenthlay’s new litter is playing in the grass nearby. Though does don’t usually mate in high summer, there have been three litters recently as the does from Efrafa have begun adjusting to a more natural life. Everything about Efrafa—most notably General Woundwort—was unnatural, Holly reflects. Groundsel speaks up and says that Woundwort—whose body was never found—is not dead. He suspects that Woundwort has gone off to start another warren somewhere else, somewhere he can make a veritable army of brave, cunning rabbits again.
In this passage, Adams draws a concrete comparison between Woundwort and Hitler—after the Nazis’ defeat, rumors that Hitler had survived and fled proliferated throughout the world.
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The rabbits discuss how well Efrafa is now doing under Campion—things are different than they used to be, and indeed both warrens are flourishing to the point of being overcrowded. Soon, Hazel says, they ought to start a warren in between their two burrows, made half of rabbits from Watership Down and half of Efrafans. Though Holly wonders if this will be difficult arrange, Hazel is confident that once Kehaar returns from the Big Water, he will be happy to carry the message quickly.
Though neither warren will ever forget the grave war fought between them, it seems as if the Watership Down rabbits genuinely hope for the success and happiness of the Efrafans and look forward to an alliance that will serve both burrows in the years to come.
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The rabbits wander around the down and come upon Bigwig—captain of Watership Down’s “free-and-easy Owsla”—teaching some young bucks about various elil. The young kits ask Bigwig to tell them tales of his grand adventures. Hazel, Holly, Groundsel, and Silver talk about how much they owe to Bigwig, and how grateful they are for him.
The rabbits will never forget the sacrifices their friends and comrades have made for the good of their warren, or the camaraderie and trust this has created throughout their clan. 
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Get the entire Watership Down LitChart as a printable PDF.
Watership Down PDF
Bluebell and Pipkin come up from the burrows, where they’ve been working on repairs and construction of new winter tunnels. Pipkin asks Hazel to take a little walk with him over to the other side of the down, and as they make their way there, they reflect on all the good times and adventures they’ve had here. Over on the other side of the down, Vilthuril is telling her and Fiver’s young kits a new El-ahrairah tale—one which bears a startling resemblance to the story of the war with Efrafa.
Hazel and the others’ adventures are already, to the next generation, becoming the stuff of legend. Hazel looked up to El-ahrairah for his entire life, and now, his exploits are being shared disguised as the trickster hero’s himself.
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Related Quotes
When the little rabbits see Hazel approaching, they leap upon him and nuzzle him, shouting “Hazel-rah!” over and over. One of Fiver’s children speaks up and says a man on a horse is coming, and wonders if they should hide in the burrow—sure enough, moments later, a man on a horse rides by the bottom of the hill. Vilthuril remarks that the young rabbit often has visions—“It’s Fiver’s blood,” she says. After a contented look around the hilltop, Hazel spots Fiver on the edge of the hill, and urges the kittens to go get him and head down to the warm burrow so that the story can continue.
This passage suggests that the new generation of rabbits born on Watership Down will be blessed with the special skills of their forbears, and will spend their lives learning from the successes, mistakes, triumphs, and failures of all those who came before them as they continue the mission of creating a free, prosperous, inclusive society for all.
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