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Watership Down

Watership Down


by Richard Adams

Watership Down Freedom and Confinement Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #1

"You could say that. The Threarah's rather good at making himself unpleasant when he's been woken up at ni-Frith for what he considers a piece of trivial nonsense. He certainly knows how to get under your skin. I dare say a good many rabbits would have kept quiet and thought about keeping on the right side of the Chief, but I'm afraid I'm not much good at that. I told him that the Owsla's privileges didn't mean all that much to me in any case and that a strong rabbit could always do just as well by leaving the warren. He told me not to be impulsive and think it over, but I shan't stay. Lettuce-stealing isn't my idea of a jolly life, nor sentry duty in the burrow. I'm in a fine temper, I can tell you." (3.12)

Bigwig at the beginning is basically a no-nonsense, straight-ahead, my-way-or-the-highway kind of rabbit. You know: a jerk. Well, okay, maybe he's not a jerk, but check out how he defines his freedom here. He straight up doesn't want to be told what to do. Sounds like he might be trouble for Hazel and the group.

Quote #2

"You're under arrest."

"Under arrest? What do you mean? What for?"

"Spreading dissension and inciting to mutiny. Silver, you're under arrest too, for failing to report to Toadflax this evening and causing your duty to devolve on a comrade. You're both to come with me." (4.21-3)

Sandleford is the first warren we see so we don't really have much to compare it to, except our own lives. So when police-rabbits come to arrest Hazel and the other rabbits for "spreading dissension"—basically, complaining about the Chief Rabbit—we might read that as a little less freedom than we want in our warrens (and suburbs). We like to talk smack about our leaders without being arrested. So sue us.

Quote #3

"He began to shoot all elillendri, homba, stoat, owl. He put out food for the rabbits, but not too near the warren. For his purpose they had to become accustomed to going about in the fields and the wood. And then he snared them—not too many: as many as he wanted and not as many as would frighten them all away or destroy the warren. They grew big and strong and healthy, for he saw to it that they had all of the best, particularly in winter, and nothing to fear—except the running knot in the hedge gap and the wood path. So they lived as he wanted them to live and all the time there were a few who disappeared." (17.91)

Fiver tells the rabbits what Cowslip's rabbits have to give up and what they gain in this little situation. They're free from worry about enemies and food and can live perfect lives, except that every once in a while one of them goes missing. (Hint: if a rabbit is missing, check the stewpot, or ask Glenn Close.) Fiver's presentation makes the costs and benefits of this sort of "freedom" pretty clear.

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