Study Guide

Watership Down Chapters 5-8

By Richard Adams

Chapters 5-8

Chapter 5

In the Woods

  • Here comes a Lockley quote from his tell-all book on rabbits, The Private Life of the Rabbit. For more on Lockley, see the "Shout-Outs." This quote is about how young rabbits sometimes leave to find a new place to live, like college kids.
  • So this is a chapter about traveling. The rabbits travel the rest of the night, making it almost a half-mile. Oh, this is going to be a long journey.
  • During a rest, Dandelion says that Hazel is like El-ahrairah.
  • El-ahrairah is a clever folk hero to rabbits, a chief rabbit who made sure all his rabbits were okay.
  • Like there's that story about… (turn page).

Chapter 6

The Story of the Blessing of El-ahrairah

  • The first El-ahrairah story begins with a W.B. Yeats poem that mentions the making of the world.
    Which is what this story is about. This is the first El-ahrairah folktale/myth that we hear in the book.
  • In world v1.0, every animal is the same—everything eats grass (just like college students). But there are too many rabbits.
  • When El-ahrairah refuses to tell his rabbits to cut back on eating grass and breeding, Frith gives each animal something special. To many animals—foxes, stoats, cats, dogs, etc.—Frith gives sharp teeth and the desire to eat rabbit.
  • But then Frith gives El-ahrairah the gift of strong legs and a cute tail and excellent Rock Band skills. So rabbits can survive if only they're faster and cleverer than every other predator in the world.

Chapter 7

The Lendri and the River

  • We start with a Napoleon Bonaparte quote. It's in French, which all bunnies can speak… maybe. The quote basically says that, when people are surprised, they aren't likely to be courageous.
  • As Dandelion finishes the story, a lendri comes and scares them. It's especially scary since they've never seen a lendri before. (Also this chapter doesn't tell us what a "lendri" is, but the Lapine glossary at the end of the book tells us it's a badger.)
  • So the rabbits get back on the road. Unfortunately, they come up to "the little river Enborne," which is a big river if you're a rabbit or a toddler.

Chapter 8

The Crossing

  • This chapter begins with a quote from the Acts of the Apostles (from the New Testament), all about how people on a sinking ship get saved thanks to some wood and a quick-thinking Roman.
  • Which is exactly what happens in this chapter, except the Roman part. Hazel's rabbits have to cross the river before the lendri comes back or a roaming dog gets them.
  • But Pipkin and Fiver are too tired (and little) to swim the river. And that's when Blackberry finds a piece of wood and invents "the raft."
  • So Bigwig pushes the raft while swimming across the river, which is like the rabbit equivalent of a triathlon. (Avoid dog, swim river, push raft.)