Watership Down

by

Richard Adams

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The de facto leader of a countryside warren. Though wild rabbits live in the warren, they are tended by a local farmer who leaves them fresh vegetables and roots to eat. The rabbits live in apparent harmony—but secretly know that any one of them could be captured at any time by the farmer and killed for their meat or pelt. Cowslip’s willingness to sacrifice a few members of his warren for the prosperity of the greater good shows that there are many types of violence in the rabbit world—not all of them obvious at first glance, and some much more insidious than others.

Cowslip Quotes in Watership Down

The Watership Down quotes below are all either spoken by Cowslip or refer to Cowslip. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of Watership Down published in 1972.
Chapter 17 Quotes

“One day the farmer thought, ‘I could increase those rabbits: make them part of my farm—their meat, their skins. […] He began to shoot all elil—lendri, homba, stoat, owl. He put out food for the rabbits, but not too near the warren. For his purpose they had to become accustomed to going about in the fields and the wood. And then he snared them—not too many: as many as he wanted and not as many as would frighten them all away or destroy the warren. They grew big and strong and healthy, for he saw to it that they had all of the best, particularly in winter, and nothing to fear—except the running knot in the hedge gap and the wood path. So they lived as he wanted them to live and all the time there were a few who disappeared. The rabbits became strange in many ways, different from other rabbits. They knew well enough what was happening. But even to themselves they pretended that all was well, for the food was good, they were protected, they had nothing to fear but the one fear; and that struck here and there, never enough at a time to drive them away.”

Related Characters: Fiver (speaker), Cowslip, Strawberry
Page Number: 115-116
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Watership Down LitChart as a printable PDF.
Watership Down PDF

Cowslip Character Timeline in Watership Down

The timeline below shows where the character Cowslip appears in Watership Down. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 12: The Stranger in the Field
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Back at the scrapes, the strange rabbit introduces himself as Cowslip. He tells the others that rain is on the way and that their scrapes may... (full context)
Violence and Power Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...on, when the rain arrives and the air fills with a chill, Hazel realizes that Cowslip was right: their scrapes are rough and do not have any of the feel of... (full context)
Chapter 13: Hospitality
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
As Hazel and the others approach Cowslip’s warren, they are surprised by how visible it is even from above ground. They encounter... (full context)
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...roof is made of tree roots, which help to support the vast space. Hazel asks Cowslip why he was modest about his warren’s numbers, as their burrow seems to be huge.... (full context)
Chapter 14: “Like Trees in November”
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...camaraderie with Strawberry. When Hazel pauses at the mouth of the burrow to look around, Cowslip tells him that there’s no need to worry about foes or elil. Hazel heads out... (full context)
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...munching on a carrot and is overcome with a sense of well-being. When he’s done, Cowslip comes over and offers to help him carry some back to the warren for storage.... (full context)
Violence and Power Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...ground is torn up but find no scent of blood or struggle. They consider asking Cowslip about the disturbed ground, but Bigwig points out that Cowslip won’t answer a single question... (full context)
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
In the burrow, Cowslip tells Hazel that the other rabbits are suggesting a story. Blackberry urges Hazel to tell... (full context)
Chapter 16: Silverweed
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...from their group applaud—they are proud of their storyteller, and hopeful that they have impressed Cowslip, Strawberry, and the others. The new rabbits, though, seem aloof and unimpressed by the story.... (full context)
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...that what rabbits need is “dignity and, above all, the will to accept their fate.” Cowslip, introducing Silverweed as a great poet and thinker, urges him to take center stage. As... (full context)
Chapter 17: The Shining Wire
Violence and Power Theme Icon
...moments Blackberry is at Hazel’s side. Silver, Pipkin, and the others approach and reveal that Cowslip wouldn’t come to help, and in fact told Fiver to stop talking about Bigwig being... (full context)
Violence and Power Theme Icon
...do without him. Hazel asks what happened back at the warren, and Pipkin reveals that Cowslip, Strawberry, and the others ignored Fiver’s cry for help, pretending not to hear. Suddenly, Bigwig... (full context)
Violence and Power Theme Icon
...suggests Bigwig rest, but the large rabbit claims he doesn’t want to—he longs to kill Cowslip. Silver agrees and believes they should annihilate the others and take the warren for themselves.... (full context)
Violence and Power Theme Icon
Authoritarianism vs. Democracy Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...from death—but no Chief could protect them from the human with the snares. Fiver accuses Cowslip and his fellow rabbits of living in practiced denial, never asking questions or attempting to... (full context)
Violence and Power Theme Icon
Authoritarianism vs. Democracy Theme Icon
Fiver goes on to state that Cowslip brought their group into the warren to increase the odds that one of his own... (full context)
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
A rabbit from Cowslip’s warren approaches their group. Bigwig tells Silver to kill it, but as it gets closer,... (full context)
Chapter 18: Watership Down
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...abandoned barn. The rabbits fared well against all these obstacles, though; their experiences back at Cowslip’s warren have made them “warier, shrewder, [more] tenacious.” There is no more quarreling amongst them,... (full context)
Chapter 19: Fear in the Dark
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...Hazel and Bigwig discuss construction. Hazel says he would like to copy one thing from Cowslip’s from warren—a great meeting-room in the middle.  (full context)
Chapter 21: “For El-ahrairah to Cry”
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Violence and Power Theme Icon
...before yesterday—they were face to face with “great, big” rabbits who had an odd smell: Cowslip and his friends. When Holly said they were looking for rabbits by the name of... (full context)
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Violence and Power Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Cowslip pursued Holly and Bluebell, but seeing that Cowslip was a poor fighter, Holly chose to... (full context)