Watership Down

by

Richard Adams

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Fiver Character Analysis

A small, nervous rabbit and Hazel’s brother. The runt of his litter, Fiver has been blessed—or cursed—all his life with a series of visions that allow him to sense or even see the future. When he experiences a vision of blood spreading across the fields of the Sandleford warren early on in the story, his brother Hazel takes him at his word despite their Chief Rabbit’s skepticism, and organizes a group of rabbits who decide to flee. It is later revealed that Fiver’s vision came true, if not literally: the Sandleford warren was destroyed, gassed, and torn to shreds when new construction on a building began directly atop it. Fiver’s recurrent visions often cause him both emotional and physical pain and distress. Sometimes he’s not sure what a vision means—other times, he finds himself succumbing to a fit when a vision seizes him strongly. Throughout the novel, Fiver does his best to use his “gift” to help Hazel and the others in pursuit of a safe place they can call home and feel free. Fiver’s sacrifices on behalf of Hazel and the others, however unwitting, allow him to help his and Hazel’s band of hlessil to make their way, eventually, to their new home at Watership Down. Though Fiver, due to his small size and sensitive nature, is often in need of extra help throughout the journey, he ultimately proves himself fearless and even powerful: at a crucial moment during the siege of Watership Down, Fiver faces off against a fearsome Efrafan officer and successfully transmutes to him a “vision” which inspires horror and dread, causing him to flee the warren. Though the full potential of Fiver’s powers are only ever hinted at, Adams portrays him as a special rabbit whose strengths are not intellectual like Hazel’s or physical like Bigwig’s, but rather emotional and psychological. Together, the three of them represent a triumvirate of important traits and gifts, and demonstrate how the healthiest, happiest communities form when those of different strengths and backgrounds work hard together in pursuit of a common goal.

Fiver Quotes in Watership Down

The Watership Down quotes below are all either spoken by Fiver or refer to Fiver. 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:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of Watership Down published in 1972.
Chapter 5 Quotes

To rabbits, everything unknown is dangerous. The first reaction is to startle, the second to bolt. Again and again they startled, until they were close to exhaustion. But what did these sounds mean and where, in this wilderness, could they bolt to? The rabbits crept closer together. Their progress grew slower. Before long they lost the course of the brook, slipping across the moonlit patches as fugitives and halting in the bushes with raised ears and staring eyes. The moon was low now and the light, wherever it slanted through the trees, seemed thicker, older and more yellow.

Page Number: 22-23
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
Chapter 18 Quotes

Since leaving the warren of the snares they had become warier, shrewder, a tenacious band who understood each other and worked together. There was no more quarreling. The truth about the warren had been a grim shock. They had come closer together, relying on and valuing each other’s capacities. They knew now that it was on these and on nothing else that their lives depended, and they were not going to waste anything they possessed between them.

Page Number: 122
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 47 Quotes

Vervain advanced slowly across the floor. Even he could derive little satisfaction from the prospect of killing a tharn rabbit half his own size, in obedience to a contemptuous taunt. The small rabbit made no move whatever, either to retreat or to defend himself, but only stared at him from great eyes which, though troubled, were certainly not those of a beaten enemy or a victim. Before his gaze, Vervain stopped in uncertainty and for long moments the two faced each other in the dim light. Then, very quietly and with no trace of fear, the strange rabbit said, “I am sorry for you with all my heart. But you cannot blame us, for you came to kill us if you could.”

“Blame you?” answered Vervain. “Blame you for what?”

“For your death. Believe me, I am sorry for your death.” […]

As [Vervain] continued to meet the eyes of this unaccountable enemy—the only one he had faced in all the long night’s search for bloodshed—horror came upon him and he was filled with a sudden fear of his words, gentle and inexorable as the falling of bitter snow in a land without refuge. The shadowy recesses of the strange burrow seemed full of whispering, malignant ghosts and he recognized the forgotten voices of rabbits done to death months since in the ditches of Efrafa.

Related Characters: Fiver (speaker), Vervain (speaker)
Page Number: 452-453
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Watership Down LitChart as a printable PDF.
Watership Down PDF

Fiver Character Timeline in Watership Down

The timeline below shows where the character Fiver appears in Watership Down. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: The Notice Board
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...the two rabbits prance by, two other rabbits gossip about them: the small, nervous rabbit, Fiver, was the runt of his litter; the larger rabbit is his brother Hazel. (full context)
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Fiver suggests to Hazel that the two of them go down to the brook. He senses... (full context)
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As Hazel and Fiver hop away, Hazel expresses his dissatisfaction with life in the Sandleford warren. He swears that... (full context)
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Hazel suggests they head back to the burrow, but Fiver is afraid to. Hazel promises Fiver that he will protect him from any danger. The... (full context)
Chapter 2: The Chief Rabbit
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That evening, Hazel is awoken by Fiver kicking and whimpering. He wakes Fiver up; Fiver reveals he was having a terrible nightmare... (full context)
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It is slightly after ni-Frith, or noon, when Hazel and Fiver depart their burrow and head to the Chief Rabbit’s. Down in the Chief’s burrow, a... (full context)
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Hazel and Fiver are led back to the Threarah’s burrow, and Hazel reminds the chief of who they... (full context)
Chapter 3: Hazel’s Decision
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That evening, Hazel, Fiver, and their friends Blackberry and Dandelion are feeding near the woods. Hazel expresses his disappointment... (full context)
Chapter 4: The Departure
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Just after moonrise, Hazel, Fiver, and their friend Pipkin, a small and timid rabbit, quietly leave their burrow and take... (full context)
Chapter 5: In the Woods
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Bigwig suggests they stop for the night, pointing out that Fiver and Pipkin, the smallest of the bunch, are exhausted. Hazel agrees that they all deserve... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Lendri and the River
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...feet deep, to the rabbits, it seems immense and appears to be a dead end. Fiver states that they shall all have to cross the river, but Bigwig is deeply skeptical.... (full context)
Chapter 8: The Crossing
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...suggests they all feed before attempting to cross the river. While they’re eating, Hazel approaches Fiver and asks if he’s absolutely certain they need to make the crossing—Fiver says they must,... (full context)
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Hazel and Fiver rejoin the others, and Bigwig suggests they begin the crossing. Blackberry speaks up, urging Bigwig... (full context)
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Hazel knows that Fiver and Pipkin are still feeling weak and says he’ll stay behind with them while the... (full context)
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Blackberry pushes the board into the stream, and Pipkin and Fiver begin drifting across. Hazel’s head clears, and he urges the others to begin swimming. Dandelion,... (full context)
Chapter 9: The Crow and the Beanfield
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...others go slowly behind them. Soon, a crow sets upon their group and begins attacking Fiver and Pipkin. Hazel distracts the crow as Silver and Bigwig set upon it. It takes... (full context)
Chapter 10: The Road and the Common
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...dangerous journey—they want to return to Sandleford. Hazel is trying to mitigate their concerns when Fiver says he wants to talk to him. As they separate from the group, they hear... (full context)
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Fiver leads Hazel up a ridge and the two of them look out upon the fields... (full context)
Chapter 11: Hard Going
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Hazel and Fiver return to the group to find that there has been a “fearful row” between Bigwig,... (full context)
Chapter 12: The Stranger in the Field
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...set to digging out their scrapes. Hazel supervises the “construction,” After a while he hears Fiver stamp out a warning—he follows Fiver’s gaze and sees a strange rabbit sitting a ways... (full context)
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...is on the way and that their scrapes may not provide them good enough shelter. Fiver asks Cowslip outright if they can trust him. Cowslip replies that his invitation is made... (full context)
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Hazel worries that Fiver is letting their group down. He feels that Blackberry and Bigwig’s arguments were well thought... (full context)
Chapter 13: Hospitality
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...groups of rabbits grow accustomed to one another by playing together and nuzzling one another, Fiver stands apart. Hazel asks who the Chief Rabbit is, but one of the other rabbits... (full context)
Chapter 14: “Like Trees in November”
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...first, but soon gets the hang of it. He runs into Pipkin, who asks where Fiver is, and Hazel realizes he hasn’t seen Fiver all morning. Hazel asks Cowslip if he’s... (full context)
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Hazel spots Fiver sitting far away beneath a tree. He asks Fiver if he’s going to come eat... (full context)
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...and Hazel decide to go back into the burrow, but decide to try and convince Fiver, one last time, to come with them. They succeed, but Fiver is indignant. (full context)
Chapter 16: Silverweed
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...as a great poet and thinker, urges him to take center stage. As he does, Fiver begins trembling, and tells Hazel he is “terrified” of Silverweed. (full context)
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...to the will of Lord Frith and turning over to him their breaths and lives. Fiver listens in horror and, at the end of the recitation, becomes hysterical, jumping around the... (full context)
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Attempting to cover for Fiver, Hazel hurriedly states that Fiver is something of a “poet” too and is often deeply... (full context)
Chapter 17: The Shining Wire
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...a frightening nightmare and is surprised when he looks around the burrow and can’t find Fiver. Hazel wakes Bigwig, who tries to calm Hazel down by suggesting that Fiver probably just... (full context)
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After a little while, Fiver sadly announces that he has chosen to leave this new warren and seek shelter in... (full context)
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Bigwig accuses Fiver of being selfish, and of putting his “visions” above the needs of everyone else. Bigwig... (full context)
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Hazel sends Fiver back to the warren to get help, and within moments Blackberry is at Hazel’s side.... (full context)
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...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 sits up and threatens to kill... (full context)
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...and take the warren for themselves. All the other rabbits begin chanting in agreement, but Fiver speaks up and calls them all “fools” for even thinking about going back to the... (full context)
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Fiver points out that the whole place is snared by the man who lives nearby—this explains... (full context)
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Fiver goes on to state that Cowslip brought their group into the warren to increase the... (full context)
Chapter 18: Watership Down
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Now, at the bottom of the hill, Hazel asks Fiver if they are meant to climb to the top, which Fiver says they must. Hazel... (full context)
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...Dandelion is overjoyed, and thanks Frith for their good fortune, but Hazel reminds him that Fiver was the one who found this place for them. (full context)
Chapter 19: Fear in the Dark
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...a wooded part of the down—the place he and Blackberry believe the digging should begin. Fiver and Pipkin are excited, and immediately set to work. Soon the others follow suit. When... (full context)
Chapter 20: A Honeycomb and a Mouse
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Back at the warren, Holly reunites with Silver and thanks Fiver for attempting to warn the Threarah about his vision of Sandleford’s destruction. They all head... (full context)
Chapter 21: “For El-ahrairah to Cry”
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Holly begins his tale. The day after Hazel, Fiver, and the others left, some rumors about Fiver’s visions were swirling through the warren. Some... (full context)
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...his friends. When Holly said they were looking for rabbits by the name of Hazel, Fiver, and Bigwig, Cowslip ordered his fellow rabbits to tear Holly and the others to pieces.... (full context)
Chapter 23: Kehaar
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Hazel is disappointed—he gathers Bigwig, Blackberry, Fiver, and Silver for a talk, and tells them that he had been hoping to restore... (full context)
Chapter 25: The Raid
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...Pipkin to keep their expedition a secret from the others, but back in the burrow, Fiver catches the scent of a farmyard on Hazel’s feet and asks him what he’s been... (full context)
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...to the farm tonight. That evening it rains, and their plan is thwarted. Before sleep, Fiver begs Hazel not to return to the farm—Hazel asks if Fiver has had a bad... (full context)
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...down. When it’s time to head in, Hazel tells the others of his promise to Fiver to stay away from trouble, and Bigwig agrees that Hazel should stay hidden during the... (full context)
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...Hazel has been killed, and return to Watership Down to deliver the news. They tell Fiver what has happened, but he informs them that he has already seen the bloody, lifeless... (full context)
Chapter 26: Fiver Beyond
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Fiver sleeps uneasily throughout the day and remembers the loss of Hazel with a sharp pain... (full context)
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Blackberry wakes Fiver to tell him that a bit of the roof elsewhere in the warren has fallen... (full context)
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Fiver asks Blackberry if he will take him to the place where Hazel was shot, as... (full context)
Chapter 28: At the Foot of the Hill
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...up the hill and breathlessly tells Bigwig that Hazel is alive but wounded, and that Fiver is with him at the bottom of the hill. Blackberry explains the extent of Hazel’s... (full context)
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Bigwig arrives at the bottom of the hill to find the exhausted Hazel sleeping and Fiver feeding. Bigwig spends the night guarding his friend, and in the morning, Kehaar returns. They... (full context)
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Hazel stays at the foot of the hill for three days, gathering his strength. Fiver stays with him, attending to his wound and keeping him company. The others come to... (full context)
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...pursuit, and get out of the reach of the Wide Patrol. Blackberry says he’ll need Fiver’s help. Hazel declares that he’ll return to the warren with Fiver the next morning and... (full context)
Chapter 29: Return and Departure
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The next morning at dawn, Hazel and Fiver head up the hill to the warren. When they arrive, they find all the other... (full context)
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Fiver and Bigwig add their voices in support of Hazel’s plan, as do Silver and Pipkin,... (full context)
Chapter 30: A New Journey
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As Hazel and a group of rabbits including Blackberry, Bluebell, Dandelion, Pipkin, Fiver, Silver, and Bigwig set out for Efrafa, Holly leads them as far as the edge... (full context)
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...nearby river—there is plenty of cover, and the Efrafans never cross it on their patrols. Fiver suggests they all head straight there without stopping for the night. (full context)
Chapter 31: The Story of El-ahrairah and the Black Rabbit of Inlé
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Pipkin becomes frightened of the story, and he and Fiver head off to eat some grass. Bigwig urges Dandelion to resume his story, and to... (full context)
Chapter 33: The Great River
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...it’s a strange environment indeed, “not all strange things are bad.” Hazel privately confides in Fiver that he worries he is asking too much of the group—his plan has within it... (full context)
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...don’t know what a “bridge” is, they tentatively approach it and begin to move across it—Fiver, surprisingly, is the first to bound across calmly and excitedly. On the far side of... (full context)
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...they could wander upriver and search for a great, clever hiding place—together he, Hazel, Bigwig, Fiver, and Bluebell set off. (full context)
Chapter 35: Groping
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...She admits that her sight is not as good as it once was. Reminded of Fiver’s visions, Bigwig trusts Hyzenthlay’s wisdom and asks if he can rely on her to get... (full context)
Chapter 36: Approaching Thunder
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...Avens standing over him. The officer tells him it’s time for silflay and asks who Fiver is. Bigwig asks what Avens is talking about, and Avens replies that Bigwig was saying... (full context)
Chapter 37: The Thunder Builds Up
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Out in the field, Hazel, Fiver, Kehaar, and the others wonder why Bigwig is not in place for the plan to... (full context)
Chapter 38: The Thunder Breaks
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...says getting there too early could result in their getting caught by a Wide Patrol. Fiver says that Hazel, with his bad leg, should actually stay behind, and get to work... (full context)
Chapter 39: The Bridges
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...culvert, they will come out the other side where the water is still and smooth. Fiver volunteers to jump first, but as he approaches the prow, the rabbits hear men’s voices... (full context)
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Fiver, Hazel, Pipkin, Blackavar, and the others make their way through the culvert to the pool... (full context)
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...Inlé, the injured Bigwig slowly makes his way downstream with the help of Silver and Fiver. When he arrives exhausted on the bank, he says he needs to sleep, and Hazel... (full context)
Chapter 40: The Way Back
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Late one afternoon, Hazel suggests the rabbits stop to rest for the night. Fiver, though, has an odd feeling, and Blackavar warns Hazel that they are in “fox country”—not... (full context)
Chapter 44: A Message from El-ahrairah
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Hazel encounters Fiver, who is not digging but listening for “something the others can’t hear.” Fiver begins going... (full context)
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...himself begins to have a strange vision. He remembers coming to the first river with Fiver, and hearing Bigwig tell them all to hurry across as there was a dog loose... (full context)
Chapter 45: Nuthanger Farm Again
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In the moments after Fiver’s scream, the Efrafan rabbits pause their digging, frightened. They tell Woundwort that there is an... (full context)
Chapter 46: Bigwig Stands His Ground
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...tunnels. Bigwig will jump out and surprise him. Pipkin asks what is to become of Fiver, who has been left in the Honeycomb, unconscious but alive—Bigwig laments that they will have... (full context)
Chapter 49: Hazel Comes Home
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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,... (full context)
Chapter 50: And Last
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)