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Watership Down Themes
Little Words, Big Ideas
Man and the Natural World
In Watership Down, humans are very often the ultimate enemy of nature: they poison warrens, they shoot rabbits, they trap rabbits, and they generally just kill rabbits. But this isn't just a book a...
In Watership Down, home isn't just where you keep your stuff and park your car—home is about where you belong. Warren life for rabbits involves family and friends, as they build community through...
In Watership Down, power comes in many forms, but it generally has one result: making others do what you want. The simplest form of power is just brute strength: that's the power used by bully rabb...
Watership Down is about a group of rabbits setting out from the old, known home to find or make a better world out there somewhere in the unknown. In other words, exploration here is often about fa...
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...
Cunning and Cleverness
Usually rabbits in fiction are heavily muscled action heroes, like Bunny Schwarzenegger and Jean-Claude van Hare. Wait, that's not right—rabbits are usually tricksters, like Brer Rabbit and Bugs...
Freedom and Confinement
In Watership Down, there are many ways to be free. Rabbits can be free from worrying about food, like the rabbits in Cowslip's warren. Of course, those rabbits aren't free from humans catching and...
Art and Culture
In Watership Down, "arts and culture" mostly means "telling stories about El-ahrairah," with a side order of games like "bob-stones." We don't see a lot of "bob-stones," but we see lots of storytel...
Rabbits in Watership Down don't have political parties and elections (or attack ads), but they do have politics. For rabbits, politics boils down to "Whom do you want to lead you?" and "What sort o...
The rabbit world is full of violence and the threat of death. Very few rabbits get to die peacefully in their beds with a bunch of grandkiddos gathered round, partly because rabbit carpentry hasn't...
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