by Richard Adams
Watership Down Questions
Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
- Why rabbits? Can you imagine Watership Down with some other type of animal—wolves, cats, snakes, little children? Does it matter to you that the rabbits mostly do normal rabbit-y things? What about the story telling and Fiver's prophetic abilities—things that real rabbits don't do or have (we hope)—do they interfere with your ability to believe this action?
- Why set the book in the real environment of England? What do you think this book would be like if Adams made up a fantasy world? Or what do you think it would be like if he set the action in a place far away, like America or Australia?
- Do you think there's a historical lesson in this book? Is this book (written in the 1970s) modeled on some particular historical event or era, like World War II? If the book has a lesson, does that lesson matter for today?
- What do you think of the point of view? How does it change your feelings about the characters when we see the world from Woundwort's P.O.V. or see his life story? What about the brief section from the humans' P.O.V.—does that affect how you feel about humans? Are those sections written differently?
- Why do you think the book is split into four parts? Do each of those parts tell a complete part of the overall story? Do you think all of the episodes in the novel are equally important? Can you imagine this story without any episode? Like what would you think if we skipped over the final war with Efrafa?
- What do you think about the stories of El-ahrairah? Are they fun and interesting? Or do they just interrupt the main story about Hazel's rabbits? Do the stories of El-ahrairah have some connection to the main story? For instance, the story of the King's Lettuce gets told in Cowslip's warren—is that story related to what's going on in the warren?
- What do you think about the epigraphs for each chapter? Do you recognize the authors and the works being quoted? Do the epigraphs tell you what's going to happen in the chapter? Do the epigraphs seem super-hard? How does that make you feel? (And don't say dumb, because even we had to look up a few of these authors.)
- How do you feel about Woundwort? He's a dangerous villain, right? But what about all his positive qualities, like his courage? Is he admirable in a way? Or just evil?
- What do you think about the descriptions of the landscape? Do they help you imagine this wilderness setting? Do they interest you? Or do you want to skip the description of the landscape and focus on the plot?
- What do you think of the rabbit language Lapine? Is it weird to read a book with some strange foreign words in it? Or was it fun? Did it make you think of the rabbits as different from us?
- What are the differences between the book and the movie? Between the book and the TV show?
- This question is only going to work if you've read some other books, but we'll ask anyway: How does Watership Down differ from other animal stories, like Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book or Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH or Charlotte's Web? Do all books about animals have the same themes and lessons? (Like "be nice to animals"?)
- What do you think about the female rabbits in this book? The male rabbits at first only think that they are good for breeding, but is that true in the book? And what about Lucy, the little girl who is smart enough to go to school? Is she a role model or a stereotype for girls and women?
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