by Richard Adams
Watership Down Theme of Fear
Fear is such a huge part of rabbits' lives that they even have a word for a special type of fear they feel: Tharn, meaning paralyzed with fear (5.14). (If this were an American book, we'd expect a rabbit-version of FDR to give the speech about only tharning tharn itself.) Of course, if you were a rabbit too, you might be afraid, since just about anything can kill you—humans, disease, other animals, cars, a mean look, etc. So rabbits need some level of fear to survive from all the dangers they face. But fear can itself be part of the problem if they become too paralyzed to act, which happens a fair few times in Watership Down.
Questions About Fear
- Who is the most fearful character? How do they deal with their fear? Do they ever overcome their fear? Are we saying the word "fear" a lot? We're afraid so.
- Does fear ever motivate rabbits to do good or positive actions? Does fear ever keep rabbits from harm?
- Do any other animals seem to fear? Does Kehaar fear anything? Do the mice that we meet? What about humans—do they fear anything?
- Does the Black Rabbit of Inlé inspire any feelings besides fear?
Chew on This
As cheesy as it sounds, fear can be overcome through teamwork in Watership Down.
Fear always leads to bad things for the rabbits.