Watership Down

by

Richard Adams

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Efrafa Symbol Icon

While Watership Down is symbolic of democracy in action, Efrafa, a neighboring warren run by the cruel and violent General Woundwort, is symbolic of authoritarianism and fascism. In Efrafa, rabbits are marked at birth through horrible bites, and the mark they bear dictates how every moment of every day of their entire lives will be spent. The militaristic Owsla which rules Efrafa is one of the largest and most organized around, and any rebellion or attempts at escape are met with swift, decisive force—as shown by the rebellious Blackavar’s mutilated face and ears. When Bigwig infiltrates Efrafa in order to rescue some does and bring them to Watership Down, Adams creates an enormous measure of dramatic tension by creating a conflict between democracy and fascism—powerful forces which have torn apart even the human world more than once.

Efrafa Quotes in Watership Down

The Watership Down quotes below all refer to the symbol of Efrafa. 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 27 Quotes

“But surely it alters them very much, living like that?” asked Dandelion.

“Very much indeed,” replied Holly. “Most of them can’t do anything but what they’re told. They’ve never been out of Efrafa and never smelled an enemy. The one aim of every rabbit in Efrafa is to get into the Owsla, because of the privileges: and the one aim of everyone in the Owsla is to get into the Council. The Council have the best of everything. But the Owsla have to keep very strong and tough. They take it in turn to do what they call Wide Patrol. They go out over the country—all round the place—living in the open for days at a time. It’s partly to find out anything they can, and partly to train them and make them tough and cunning. Any hlessil they find they pick up and bring back to Efrafa. If they won’t come, they kill them. They reckon hlessil a danger, because they may attract the attention of men.”

Related Characters: Dandelion (speaker), Holly (speaker)
Related Symbols: Efrafa
Page Number: 234
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 28 Quotes

“We can’t go on with nothing but these two does.”

“But what else can we do?”

“I know what we’ve got to do,” said Hazel, “but I still can’t see how. We’ve got to go back and get some does out of Efrafa.”

“You might as well say you were going to get them out of Inlé, Hazel-rah. I’m afraid I can’t have given you a very clear description of Efrafa.”

“Oh, yes, you have—the whole idea scares me stiff. But we’re going to do it.”

“It can’t be done.”

“It can’t be done by fighting or fair words, no. So it will have to be done by means of a trick.”

Related Characters: Hazel (speaker), Holly (speaker)
Related Symbols: El-ahrairah, Efrafa
Page Number: 249
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 32 Quotes

“I’m angry with you,” [Hazel] said. “You’re the one rabbit we’re not going to be able to do without and you have to go and run a silly risk like that. It wasn’t necessary and it wasn’t even clever. What were you up to?”

“I’m afraid I just lost my head, Hazel,” replied Bigwig. “I’ve been strung up all day, thinking about this business at Efrafa—got me really on edge. When I feel like that I have to do something—you know, fight or run a risk. I thought if I could make that fox look a fool I wouldn’t feel so worried about the other thing. What’s more, it worked—I feel a lot better now.”

Related Characters: Hazel (speaker), Bigwig (speaker)
Related Symbols: Efrafa
Page Number: 286
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 34 Quotes

As the warren grew, so Woundwort developed his system to keep it under control. Crowds of rabbits feeding at morning and evening were likely to attract attention. He devised the Marks, each controlled by its own officers and sentries, with feeding times changed regularly to give all a share of early morning and sunset—the favorite hours for silflay. All signs of rabbit life were concealed as closely as possible. The Owsla had privileges in regard to feeding, mating and freedom of movement. Any failure of duty on their part was liable to be punished by demotion and loss of privileges. For ordinary rabbits, the punishments were more severe.

Related Characters: General Woundwort
Related Symbols: Efrafa
Page Number: 305
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 35 Quotes

“Thlayli, you are very brave. Are you cunning, too? All our lives will depend on you tomorrow.”

“Well, can you see anything wrong with the plan?”

“No, but I am only a doe who has never been out of Efrafa. Suppose something unexpected happens?”

“Risk is risk. Don’t you want to get out and come and live on the high downs with us? Think of it!”

“Oh, Thlayli! Shall we mate with whom we choose and dig our own burrows and bear our litters alive?”

“You shall: and tell stories in the Honeycomb and silflay whenever you feel like it. It’s a fine life, I promise you.”

“I’ll come! I’ll run any risk.”

Related Characters: Bigwig (speaker), Hyzenthlay (speaker)
Related Symbols: Watership Down, Efrafa
Page Number: 330
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 38 Quotes

“You dirty little beast,” said Woundwort. “I hear you’ve attacked one of the Council police and broken his leg. We’ll settle with you here. There’s no need to take you back to Efrafa.”

“You crack-brained slave-driver,” answered Bigwig. “I’d like to see you try.”

“All right,” said Woundwort, “that’s enough. Who have we got? Vervain, Campion, put him down. The rest of you, start getting these does back to the warren. The prisoner you can leave to me.”

“Frith sees you!” cried Bigwig. “You’re not fit to be called a rabbit! May Frith blast you and your foul Owsla full of bullies!”

At that instant a dazzling claw of lightning streaked down the length of the sky. The hedge and the distant trees seemed to leap forward in the brilliance of the flash. Immediately upon it came the thunder: a high, tearing noise, as though some huge thing were being ripped to pieces close above, which deepened and turned to enormous blows of dissolution. Then the rain fell like a waterfall. In a few seconds the ground was covered with water and over it, to a height of inches, rose a haze formed of a myriad minute splashes. Stupefied with the shock, unable even to move, the sodden rabbits crouched inert, almost pinned to the earth by the rain.

A small voice spoke in Bigwig’s mind. “Your storm, Thlayli-rah. Use it.”

Related Characters: Bigwig (speaker), General Woundwort (speaker), Captain Campion, Vervain, Lord Frith
Related Symbols: Efrafa
Page Number: 359
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 39 Quotes

Most of the rabbits had very little idea of what was happening. The Efrafan does had never seen a river and it would certainly have been beyond Pipkin or Hawkbit to explain to them that they were on a boat. They—and nearly all the others—had simply trusted Hazel and done as they were told. But all— bucks and does alike—realized that Woundwort and his followers had vanished. Wearied by all they had gone through, the sodden rabbits crouched without talking, incapable of any feeling but a dull relief and without even the energy to wonder what was going to happen next.

That they should feel any relief—dull or otherwise—was remarkable in the circumstances and showed both how little they understood their situation and how much fear Woundwort could inspire, for their escape from him seemed to be their only good fortune.

Related Characters: Hazel, General Woundwort, Pipkin, Hawkbit
Related Symbols: Efrafa
Page Number: 369-370
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 40 Quotes

As Blackavar came up with Hyzenthlay, Bigwig said, “You told us how it would be, didn’t you? And I was the one who wouldn't listen.”

“Told you?” said Blackavar. “I don’t understand.”

“That there was likely to be a fox.”

“I don’t remember, I’m afraid. But I don’t see that any of us could possibly have known. Anyway, what’s a doe more or less?”

Bigwig looked at him in astonishment, but Blackavar, apparently unconcerned either to stress what he had said or to break off the talk, simply began to nibble the grass. Bigwig, puzzled, moved away and himself began to feed a little distance off, with Hyzenthlay and Hazel. […]

“In Efrafa,” said Hyzenthlay, “if a rabbit gave advice and the advice wasn’t accepted, he immediately forgot it and so did everyone else. Blackavar thought what Hazel decided; and whether it turned out later to be right or wrong was all the same. His own advice had never been given.”

Related Characters: Bigwig (speaker), Hyzenthlay (speaker), Blackavar (speaker)
Related Symbols: Efrafa
Page Number: 389
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 43 Quotes

When the punt floated down the river in the rain, part of General Woundwort’s authority went with it. He could not have appeared more openly and completely at a loss if Hazel and his companions had flown away over the trees. […] They had suddenly shown their own cunning greater than his, and left him bewildered on the bank. He had overheard the very word—tharn— spoken by one of his officers to another as they returned to Efrafa through the rain. Thlayli, Blackavar and the does of the Near Hind [Mark] had vanished. He had tried to stop them and he had conspicuously failed.

Related Characters: Hazel, Bigwig, General Woundwort, Blackavar
Related Symbols: Efrafa
Page Number: 414-415
Explanation and Analysis:

“Rabbits have enough enemies as it is. They ought not to make more among themselves. A mating between free, independent warrens—what do you say?”

At that moment, in the sunset on Watership Down, there was offered to General Woundwort the opportunity to show whether he was really the leader of vision and genius which he believed himself to be, or whether he was no more than a tyrant with the courage and cunning of a pirate. For one beat of his pulse the lame rabbit’s idea shone clearly before him. He grasped it and realized what it meant. The next, he had pushed it away from him. The sun dipped into the cloud bank and now he could see clearly the track along the ridge, leading to the beech hanger and the bloodshed for which he had prepared with so much energy and care.

“I haven’t time to sit here talking nonsense,” said Woundwort. “You’re in no position to bargain with us. […] Go and tell Thlayli that if the does aren’t waiting outside your warren, with him and Blackavar, by the time I get down there, I’ll tear the throat out of every buck in the place by ni-Frith tomorrow.”

Related Characters: Hazel (speaker), General Woundwort (speaker), Bigwig, Blackavar
Related Symbols: Watership Down, Efrafa
Page Number: 421
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Watership Down LitChart as a printable PDF.
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Efrafa Symbol Timeline in Watership Down

The timeline below shows where the symbol Efrafa appears in Watership Down. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 27: “You Can’t Imagine It Unless You’ve Been There”
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...were on the right path to a warren nearby. The hare asked if they meant Efrafa, and Holly answered that they must; the hare asked if they knew the warren, and... (full context)
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...see the group’s “marks.” When Holly expressed confusion, the rabbits asked if they were from Efrafa. Holly replied that they weren’t but were seeking to go there. The rabbits took Holly... (full context)
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In Efrafa, in addition to the Owsla, there is a governing body called a Council. Each rabbit... (full context)
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...him several captains, each in charge of a Mark and several officers of their own. Efrafan rabbits must bury their hraka and often go days at a time underground, without sight... (full context)
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Dandelion asks if living in such a way has “alter[ed]” the Efrafan rabbits, and Holly says that it has. Most Efrafans can’t do anything but what they’re... (full context)
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...some of the other rabbits—one of whom was a doe called Hyzenthlay—they learned more about Efrafa, and how General Woundwort, when he seized power, was responsible for making it so regimented.... (full context)
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...“out of the question.” Holly realized, in that moment, that they were not guests in Efrafa, but prisoners. (full context)
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...stationed everywhere. Over the next several days, the rabbits were forced to live by the Efrafan rules, coming up to the ground only to eat and then immediately heading back down... (full context)
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...the size of “a thousand hrududil” came rushing through the night and wiped out the Efrafan rabbits. (full context)
Chapter 28: At the Foot of the Hill
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...back to safety, but Holly insists that the only reason they made it out of Efrafa is that Frith intended for them to do so. Holly helps the hutch rabbits up... (full context)
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...company. The others come to visit, and Holly relays the story of his time in Efrafa. Hazel laments that both the excursion to Nuthanger and the journey to Efrafa were calamitous.... (full context)
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...be the one to devise a great trick which will get the does out of Efrafa, dodge a pursuit, and get out of the reach of the Wide Patrol. Blackberry says... (full context)
Chapter 29: Return and Departure
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 30: A New Journey
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...group of rabbits including Blackberry, Bluebell, Dandelion, Pipkin, Fiver, Silver, and Bigwig set out for Efrafa, Holly leads them as far as the edge of the wood to see them off.... (full context)
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...important it is that they avoid the Wide Patrol—they don’t want to go straight to Efrafa just yet, but are instead looking for somewhere very near it where they can hide... (full context)
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...to fly on their behalf and seek out a place to hide as near to Efrafa as they can get without being caught. Kehaar suggests they go over a nearby river—there... (full context)
Chapter 33: The Great River
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...the group is waiting for, and why they have not put their plan to infiltrate Efrafa in motion. Hazel admits that though he can see how the plan will start, he... (full context)
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...rabbit.” Blackberry, struck by an idea, says they should use the boat to escape the Efrafan wide patrol after the breakout by gnawing at the rope and setting it free. (full context)
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...any moment, Hazel says there’s no time to waste. He tells Bigwig to head for Efrafa and reminds him to send word by Kehaar of what he needs them to do—they... (full context)
Chapter 34: General Woundwort
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Dusk is falling on Efrafa, and General Woundwort comes above ground to watch the Near Hind Mark at silflay. One... (full context)
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Woundwort founded Efrafa not all that long ago, and from the start ran it with an iron fist.... (full context)
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...Patrol has recently picked up the scent of a large band of rabbits heading towards Efrafa, though their tracks have since been lost—and most concerning of all, a hlessi recently drew... (full context)
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...picked up a hlessi—who has stated that he has come a long way to join Efrafa. Woundwort is puzzled by the appearance of a rabbit who actually wants to join Efrafa... (full context)
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...and he introduces himself as Thlayli, or Bigwig. Thlayli announces he has come to join Efrafa—when Woundwort asks why, Thlayli inquires if there is anything “odd” about someone wanting to join... (full context)
Chapter 35: Groping
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...the lay of the land and offer him tips about being on-duty and living in Efrafa more generally. They tell him of Efrafa’s recent difficulties, including the four runaways from Right... (full context)
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...perplexed and overwhelmed as to how he will ever accomplish his dangerous tasks. He knows Efrafa is surely full of spies, and decides he’ll just have to trust his instincts. He... (full context)
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...always prided himself on having a tough spirit, he is overwhelmed by the suffering in Efrafa. At the same time, he realizes that in wishing for freedom, these does have not... (full context)
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...tense and angry. He asks her if she remembers the four rabbits who came to Efrafa many days ago, and if she recalls talking to their leader, Holly. Bigwig tells Hyzenthlay... (full context)
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Hyzenthlay says that escape from Efrafa is possible, but beyond that, she cannot “see.” She foretells confusion and fear and speaks... (full context)
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...ahead of time except perhaps Thethuthinnang. Nelthilta is young and gossipy, and hardly anyone in Efrafa can keep a secret for long. Bigwig is grateful to have made a “strong, sensible... (full context)
Chapter 36: Approaching Thunder
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...the countryside out of season, and says he’s going to report the sighting—everything unusual in Efrafa must be reported at once. (full context)
Chapter 37: The Thunder Builds Up
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...fox and save himself. Nevertheless, he apologizes for his role in the death of an Efrafan officer. (full context)
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...ready. Hazel says that he will be—but if he isn’t, Hazel himself will march into Efrafa. (full context)
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...Blackavar alone in the field. He tells him that he is a secret enemy of Efrafa, and that tonight, an escape is happening. He warns Blackavar not to do anything until... (full context)
Chapter 38: The Thunder Breaks
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Back at the riverbank, Hazel tries to imagine what is going on in Efrafa. He goes over Bigwig’s report with Kehaar again and again, fretting about how the weather... (full context)
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...the valley beyond. Bigwig is grateful for the storm—he believes it will help him “defeat Efrafa.” As Bigwig and the others make their way across the field they hear alarms being... (full context)
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...from the sky, along with a clap of thunder. The rain begins pouring, and the Efrafans stand immobilized in shock and fear. Bigwig takes advantage of the distraction and urges Blackavar... (full context)
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Bigwig dashes for the river, catching up with Blackberry and Bluebell along the way. The Efrafans are hot on their tail and are attempting to head them off before they reach... (full context)
Chapter 40: The Way Back
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In the morning, Hazel learns that one of the Efrafan does—the one who grazed the first bridge—has died in the night. They all lament her... (full context)
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...has an odd feeling, and Blackavar warns Hazel that they are in “fox country”—not even Efrafan Wide Patrols would dare traverse this territory. Bigwig, surly due to his injury, teases Blackavar... (full context)
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...away one of the does. The rabbits all dash for cover, and lament that the Efrafan does’ instincts, weakened by life in the Mark rotation, are not able to save them... (full context)
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...he doesn’t know what Bigwig is talking about and hops away. Hyzenthlay explains that in Efrafa, if a rabbit gave advice and it wasn’t accepted, he immediately forgot it and adopted... (full context)
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...Honeycomb by night. As they stop to forage for food, they suddenly come upon four Efrafans. One of them is Campion, and though Hazel tells him that their business with Efrafa... (full context)
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...the does and move on and tells Campion to take his patrol and return to Efrafa. Surprisingly, Campion and the others relent, and the group moves onward. (full context)
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...that Campion has followed them, tracked them to their down, and is now returning to Efrafa to gather more troops. (full context)
Chapter 41: The Story of Rowsby Woof and the Fairy Wogdog
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The dog days of summer descend, and Watership Down is thriving at last. The Efrafan does have dug out new runs and burrows, and everyone finds themselves bonded more closely... (full context)
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...gather in the Honeycomb for a story. Bluebell suggests telling stories of their adventures in Efrafa, but Dandelion wants to tell a story about El-ahrairah. After their encounter with the Black... (full context)
Chapter 42: News at Sunset
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...get everyone underground—he says there isn’t a moment to lose. The hills are full of Efrafans. Blackavar suggests they all start running, but Hazel is determined to stand and defend his... (full context)
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Hazel worries that their warren will not hold against the Efrafan’s attack, and knows that as long as Woundwort is alive, the assaults will not stop... (full context)
Chapter 43: The Great Patrol
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...and followed them to their warren. This success “put an end to all opposition,” and Efrafan faith in Woundwort’s ability to lead was restored. Woundwort, back at Efrafa, chose a large,... (full context)
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...they are approached by a small, limping rabbit—Hazel. Woundwort warns Hazel that he and the Efrafans are going to “destroy” him and his warren, but Hazel insists they try to come... (full context)
Chapter 44: A Message from El-ahrairah
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...an open run, sends two officers down. Silver and Buckthorn meet them and attack them—the Efrafans, mauled, barely escape with their lives. Groundsel begins digging down into the warren and finds... (full context)
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...soon give in, even though Hazel is confident that all the digging will tire the Efrafans out and dull their claws, making a confrontation easier. Bigwig suggests they evacuate the Honeycomb,... (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 animal down in... (full context)
Chapter 46: Bigwig Stands His Ground
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...the burrow, where they will set to work opening a run, at which point more Efrafans can descend and join the fight. Woundwort jumps into the hole without hesitation and claws... (full context)
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...of the officers detects movement on the other side of a recently-constructed wall, and the Efrafans begin digging at it. (full context)
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On the other side of the wall, Bigwig and Holly, sensing the Efrafans’ approach, devise a plan. Bigwig tells Holly to bury him in earth—he is going to... (full context)
Chapter 47: The Sky Suspended
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...they can bring the dog up the down at a fast-enough speed to frighten the Efrafans. (full context)
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...not to throw his life away and offers him the chance to come back to Efrafa and take command of any Mark he wants. Bigwig curses Woundwort, realizing that the cunning... (full context)
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...lives. Two Watership Down rabbits streak past—close behind them is a great black dog. The Efrafans flee, but Woundwort stands his ground. As it springs upon him, they hear him yelling,... (full context)
Chapter 49: Hazel Comes Home
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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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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...him. Hyzenthlay, though, appears to corroborate Hazel’s story—she reminds Bigwig of her vision back in Efrafa. (full context)
Chapter 50: And Last
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...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... (full context)
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...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,... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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...new El-ahrairah tale—one which bears a startling resemblance to the story of the war with Efrafa. (full context)
Epilogue
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...oversees a prosperous warren at Watership Down. The new warren halfway between Watership Down and Efrafa flourishes, too, and Groundsel is the first Chief. He does not Mark any rabbits or... (full context)