Watership Down

by

Richard Adams

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Watership Down can help.

Watership Down Symbol Analysis

Watership Down Symbol Icon

Watership Down is the name of the hill which houses the warren Hazel, Bigwig, Fiver, and the other rabbits who managed to escape from Sandleford eventually build together. Watership Down, a warren in which all rabbits are equal and free to live by their own rules, on their own schedules, and without influence from any Chief Rabbit or Owsla, is symbolic of democracy and democratic systems the world over. Though Richard Adams has denied that Watership Down is allegoric or symbolic of anything, Watership Down and the militaristic neighboring warren of Efrafa can be read as symbols of democracy and totalitarianism, and as they enter into conflict with one another, the new utopian world of Watership Down is threatened by the fascistic regime in Efrafa.

Watership Down Quotes in Watership Down

The Watership Down quotes below all refer to the symbol of Watership Down. 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 24 Quotes

Things had not looked better since they had first set out from Sandleford.

A spirit of happy mischief entered into Hazel. He felt as he had on the morning when they crossed the Enborne and he had set out alone and found the beanfield. He was confident and ready for adventure. But what adventure? Something worth telling to Holly and Silver on their return. Something to—well, not to diminish what they were going to do. No, of course not—but just to show them that their Chief Rabbit was up to anything that they were up to.

Related Characters: Hazel, Silver, Holly
Related Symbols: Watership Down
Page Number: 197-198
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 43 Quotes

“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.
Watership Down PDF

Watership Down Symbol Timeline in Watership Down

The timeline below shows where the symbol Watership Down appears in Watership Down. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 18: Watership Down
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...three miles in a day, the rabbits arrive at the tall, verdant hill that is Watership Down . Their journey has been exhausting—since the previous morning they have splashed through brooks, traversed... (full context)
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
Finally, the four rabbits reach the top of Watership Down . They can see far in every direction—any man or elil which approaches their new... (full context)
Chapter 20: A Honeycomb and a Mouse
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
The rabbits are astonished not just to see Holly alive, all the way at Watership Down , but to find him in such a miserable state. The reality of seeing Holly... (full context)
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...silflay. Hazel and Bigwig decide to go out and talk to them. Out on the down, Holly asks about Hazel and Bigwig’s journey, and they proudly state that everyone they left... (full context)
Chapter 21: “For El-ahrairah to Cry”
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Violence and Power Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...Cowslip was a poor fighter, Holly chose to engage him. He managed to get Cowslip down and threatened to kill him in order to get Cowslip to tell him where Hazel... (full context)
Chapter 23: Kehaar
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
...day soon, scout out some neighboring warrens that might have does. Their new warren on Watership Down is doing well so far—but it will never thrive without does. As Hazel’s words sink... (full context)
Chapter 24: Nuthanger Farm
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...confirmed that Holly and the others are on the right course, and, meanwhile, back at Watership Down , the rabbits have been working on enlarging the burrows in anticipation of the does’... (full context)
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
...leave and return one night soon to release the rabbits and bring them back to Watership Down . Pipkin announces there is a cat in the yard, and Hazel, wanting to keep... (full context)
Chapter 25: The Raid
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Pipkin and Hazel take their time in getting back to Watership Down , and don’t return until evening. Hazel urges Pipkin to keep their expedition a secret... (full context)
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
...the farm around twilight, resting and eating while they wait for the sun to go down. When it’s time to head in, Hazel tells the others of his promise to Fiver... (full context)
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...come across a trail of blood, they believe Hazel has been killed, and return to Watership Down to deliver the news. They tell Fiver what has happened, but he informs them that... (full context)
Chapter 27: “You Can’t Imagine It Unless You’ve Been There”
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Back at Watership Down , in the Honeycomb, Bigwig and Holly call the other rabbits to a meeting. The... (full context)
Chapter 38: The Thunder Breaks
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Authoritarianism vs. Democracy Theme Icon
...of Woundwort, all the nervous does rush onto the boat at once, as do the Watership Down rabbits. The only one missing is Dandelion. Hazel says they’ll have to leave him. (full context)
Chapter 40: The Way Back
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...his own bad leg, he worries that the burden of shepherding the does back to Watership Down will be too much for their group to bear. At the same time, they cannot... (full context)
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...for his help and his loyalty and tell him that he can find them on Watership Down whenever he returns to the hills. As Kehaar spreads his wings and flies away, Bigwig... (full context)
Chapter 41: The Story of Rowsby Woof and the Fairy Wogdog
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Authoritarianism vs. Democracy Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
The dog days of summer descend, and Watership Down is thriving at last. The Efrafan does have dug out new runs and burrows, and... (full context)
Chapter 43: The Great Patrol
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Violence and Power Theme Icon
Authoritarianism vs. Democracy Theme Icon
...Efrafa, chose a large, intimidating group of nearly thirty rabbits to make the journey to Watership Down and take back the does. Though their journey was beset by elil and other obstacles,... (full context)
Authoritarianism vs. Democracy Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...been spotted by Blackavar and Holly, Woundwort and his troops wait to see whether the Watership Down rabbits will run away or prepare to fight. As Woundwort and Campion travel to a... (full context)
Chapter 44: A Message from El-ahrairah
Violence and Power Theme Icon
Authoritarianism vs. Democracy Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...begin digging out the blacked holes, and Vervain, discovering an open run, sends two officers down. Silver and Buckthorn meet them and attack them—the Efrafans, mauled, barely escape with their lives.... (full context)
Chapter 45: Nuthanger Farm Again
Violence and Power Theme Icon
Authoritarianism vs. Democracy Theme Icon
...the Efrafan rabbits pause their digging, frightened. They tell Woundwort that there is an animal down in the burrow that is not a rabbit. The Efrafans recall the way the Watership... (full context)
Chapter 47: The Sky Suspended
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Authoritarianism vs. Democracy Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...line, and Dandelion joins the effort so that they can bring the dog up the down at a fast-enough speed to frighten the Efrafans. (full context)
Violence and Power Theme Icon
Authoritarianism vs. Democracy Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...their real Chief must be. Woundwort retreats to gather his full forces and bring them down to fight. When he returns to the Honeycomb, though, a small rabbit is standing there.... (full context)
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Violence and Power Theme Icon
Authoritarianism vs. Democracy Theme Icon
...Campion dashes around the corner and tells them all to run for their lives. Two Watership Down rabbits streak past—close behind them is a great black dog. The Efrafans flee, but Woundwort... (full context)
Chapter 49: Hazel Comes Home
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Violence and Power Theme Icon
Authoritarianism vs. Democracy Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
The Epic Journey  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... (full context)
Chapter 50: And Last
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Authoritarianism vs. Democracy Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
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.... (full context)
Epilogue
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Authoritarianism vs. Democracy Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...three years. He sees many summers, fathers countless kits, and oversees a prosperous warren at Watership Down . The new warren halfway between Watership Down and Efrafa flourishes, too, and Groundsel is... (full context)
The Epic Journey  Theme Icon
Home and Belonging Theme Icon
...and leaves his body lying in the burrow. As Hazel takes one last look at Watership Down , his companion assures him all of the rabbits there will be all right. Together,... (full context)