by Richard Adams
Watership Down Theme of Art and Culture
In Watership Down, "arts and culture" mostly means "telling stories about El-ahrairah," with a side order of games like "bob-stones." We don't see a lot of "bob-stones," but we see lots of storytelling. Telling stories about El-ahrairah does lots of things. For one thing, it bonds the rabbits into a community. But perhaps even more importantly, it holds up El-ahrairah as a model inspires rabbits in times of trouble. In doing so, the stories tell us what the rabbits value.
Questions About Art and Culture
- What other arts do rabbits practice in this book besides story telling? What arts do the rabbits in Cowslip's warren or Efrafa practice?
- Do the El-ahrairah stories parallel the action of Hazel's rabbits? When do the stories get told? Why do the rabbits tell these particular stories?
- Do we see any evidence that El-ahrairah stories change over time? How do rabbits come up with new stories?
- How do other rabbits tell stories? How does Silverweed's poem differ from Hyzenthlay's poem?
- How do the Efrafans tell stories? What do you think about the transformation of Woundwort into a mythological figure?
Chew on This
Cowslip's warren shows us that gaining new arts always involves losing others. Tough luck.
Storytelling is a way for rabbits to remember the lessons of the past in a fun, exciting form. In other words, storytelling is Shmoop for rabbits.