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Watership Down

Watership Down


by Richard Adams

Watership Down Chapters 39-41 Summary

Chapter 39

The Bridges

  • Welcome to Part IV, called "Hazel-rah," where "rah" mean "leader" or "boss."
  • This short chapter begins with a quotation from an American folk song about boatmen working on the Ohio River. Again, this song will fit better if you substitute the word "rabbit," as in "boat-rabbits working on the Ohio River."
  • Unfortunately, these boat-rabbits don't really understand the river. Luckily, they have Kehaar with them to help explain things like boats and rivers and bridges
  • Eventually, the boat stops by a bridge. The rabbits take a short swim (ech) and reach dry land.

Chapter 40

The Way Back

  • This chapter begins with a quote from a Walter de la Mare poem about a wolf at the door. But everything's cool now and we don't have to worry about wolves, right?
  • The way home to Watership Down isn't a picnic (though a rabbit picnic would be totes adorbs).
  • In fact, on the way back, a fox grabs one of the does. So, after all that work, they have one less doe. But that's as bad as it's going to get, right?
  • No, in fact, it gets worse: they run into Captain Campion who is on patrol looking for them. Blackavar suggests killing all the Efrafans, but Hazel is tired of rabbits hurting each other.
  • Which makes sense, but is still kind of unfortunate since Campion follows them home and now knows where they live.

Chapter 41

The Story of Rowsby Woof and the Fairy Wogdog

  • Here's a quote from Psalm 59 about not being nice to evil people, who are like dogs in some way. Which is like a big neon warning sign: this chapter contains some anti-dog propaganda.
  • Watership Down is pretty peaceful right now, with some good hopes for the future. There are sixteen male rabbits and ten female rabbits and some cubs on the way.
  • So, on a lazy summer day, Dandelion tells a story he's never told before about El-ahrairah called, well, the title of the chapter.
  • This story is about how El-ahrairah tricked a dog named Rowsby Woof.
  • Rowsby's owner has a nice garden (even though it's winter), so El-ahrairah pretends to be the Fairy Wogdog, a messenger from the "great dog spirit of the East, Queen Dripslobber" (50).
  • El-ahrairah tricks Rowsby into going out to wait for the Queen. While he's waiting, El-ahrairah and his friend Rabscuttle break into the house and eat some nice, warm vegetables.
  • But then the rabbits get trapped in the house when the owner and Rowsby Woof come home. But El-ahrairah comes up with another trick: he convinces Rowsby Woof to bark like mad in order to drive away a curse.
  • And while Rowsby is barking and running around, the rabbits escape. But what's best about this story—or worst, maybe?—is that Rowsby Woof feels that he acted like a hero by saving his master from the curse.

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