This short chapter starts with a quote from Greek philosopher Plato. In this philosophical dialogue (which is a long way of saying "people discuss a big issue"), Socrates talks about how to tell good acts from evil acts.
After the Rowsby Woof story, Hazel runs into the mouse he saved who has some "good" news: there are new rabbits in the area. And all rabbits are friends, right?
But no, not all rabbits are friends. Because the new rabbits are General Woundwort with his rabbit army. (Robot army? No, rabbit army. Though a robot rabbit army would be pretty great.)
Here's another Walter de la Mare quote. (Gosh, there sure are a lot of them.) This quote is said by Napoleon, who claims to be the whole world. Which is crazy, right? But it does bring us to…
Woundwort. Since Hazel's bunny-heist, Woundwort has lost some of his authority.
Woundwort kind of obsesses about finding and killing Bigwig. (Remember, he still thinks Bigwig is in charge.)
So when Campion finds the rabbits and tracks them back to Watership Down (in chapter 40), Woundwort plans a war. He picks 26 or 27 rabbits to follow him and starts extra training.
In August, his army starts out and Woundwort shows what a good commander he is: fighting off a stoat, helping the wounded, etc.
Unfortunately, Woundwort loses the element of surprise right before the attack. And then a rabbit from Watership Down comes to talk to him. (It's clearly Hazel, but Woundwort doesn't know that so we don't get his name in this chapter. Which is another way of reminding us that this chapter is told from Woundwort's point of view.)
Hazel lays out a compromise: all rabbits should work together; and Watership Down and Efrafa should form a third warren between them, which would help both warrens prosper.
The idea is tempting to Woundwort, but he can't accept it and declares war. Adorable, fluffy war.
A Message from El-ahrairah
This chapter starts with a quote about what it's like to live in a castle under siege. ("Siege" is what happens when you're in a castle and the enemy army surrounds your castle. Then you just stare at each other until you run out of food. Or the enemy tries to break down the walls like this.)
This relates to bunnies because the Watership Down rabbits are mostly hiding out in the Honeycomb after blocking most of the entrances. And General Woundwort's army is on the outside trying to break in.
But don't worry about General Woundwort—he has previous experience in destroying enemy warrens that just want to live by themselves.
Since it's been a while since Fiver freaked out, it's about time for him to do so. He screams, scaring all the rabbits, and falls into a trance.
Surprisingly, Hazel also has a little bit of a dream-trance where he remembers how scared they were of the dog in chapter 8. Picture the rabbit equivalent of a light bulb going off over his head.
Hazel gathers Dandelion and Blackberry for one last scheme. They're going to Nuthanger Farm. Again.