by Richard Adams
Watership Down Fear Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Here and there one sat upright on an ant heap and looked about, with ears erect and nose in the wind. But a blackbird, singing undisturbed on the outskirts of the wood, showed that there was nothing alarming there, and in the other direction, along the brook, all was plain to be seen, empty and quiet. The warren was at peace. (1.2)
Even at the beginning of the book, rabbits are afraid. Even though they're safe(ish) and surrounded by nature, they're still sitting upright and looking and smelling around. And this is only the second paragraph, which is pretty much like a neon sign saying "rabbits are scared."
"Oh, Hazel! This is where it comes from! I know now—something very bad! Some terrible thing—coming closer and closer."
He began to whimper with fear.
"What sort of thing—what do you mean? I thought you said there was no danger?"
"I don't know what it is," answered Fiver wretchedly. "There isn't any danger here, at this moment. But it's coming—it's coming. Oh, Hazel, look! The field! It's covered with blood!" (1.27-30)
Rabbits in general are nervous nellies, but on top of his normal fears, Fiver has to deal with all his special fears, like being afraid that a field will be covered with blood. (Because… the blood dam burst?) The imagery of a field of blood is enough to give us the willies. But how do you react to this first freak-out by Fiver? Are you skeptical of his vision, or are you like, "get the heck outta there, rabbit fools!"?
Several were almost tharn—that is, in that state of staring, glazed paralysis that comes over terrified or exhausted rabbits, so that they sit and watch their enemies—weasels or humans—approach to take their lives. (5.14)
You know that old story that Inuit language has hundreds of words for snow? That's not entirely true, but it makes sense because we imagine the weather forecast is very important. Well, rabbits are like that but with fear: fear is such an important topic for rabbits that they even have a special Lapine word for a particular type of fear they feel. On the downside, Tharn isn't a useful fear to experience, so we kind of wish it didn't exist, let alone have its own terminology.