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Watership Down

Richard Adams

Chapters 33–35

Chapters 30–32

Chapters 36–38

Summary

Chapter 33: The Great River

Hazel realizes that Bigwig's stunt with the fox probably broke up a Wide Patrol that was very close to finding them. He asks Kehaar to take them to the river, which is huge and awes the rabbits. The need to get to the other side, so Kehaar shows them the way to a bridge. Fiver reassures Hazel that the bridge is no worse than many other places they have been, and is in fact better than some. Fiver and Hazel go across first with Pipkin, and soon Silver and Dandelion follow. Many of the other rabbits are even more reluctant than Hazel to cross, and Fiver has to convince them all to come over. They check out the terrain and then sleep.

Blackberry and Hazel need to figure out the last step in the plan. They explore the other side of the river and find a smaller bridge further down the river. They cross it, along with Fiver, Bigwig, and Bluebell. They come upon a boat, which Kehaar explains to them, and Blackberry strikes upon using the boat themselves. The plan is complete, and Hazel tells Bigwig it is time for him to go. Bigwig pauses for a moment and then takes off.

Chapter 34: General Woundwort

General Woundwort is a huge, fearless rabbit who has fought many types of elil in the past. He created Efrafa because he craved power, and he fully controlled it from the beginning. He used the Wide Patrols to systematically gain control over the area surrounding Efrafa and he made his warren very safe. The patrols were also used to train rabbits to become fierce and cunning. Woundwort himself sometimes joins the patrols.

However, the General is concerned because Holly and his group's escape hurt the prestige of the Owsla and also caused the death of a good captain (the one who was hit by the train). Furthermore, the fox, led on by Bigwig, killed another of Woundwort's best officers. Captain Campion, one of Woundwort's officers, comes to tell him that they have found a rabbit who wants to join Efrafa. The rabbit is Bigwig, although Woundwort does not know him. Bigwig convinces the General that he would be a good addition to the warren, and Woundwort makes him an officer.

Chapter 35: Groping

Bigwig learns about the Efrafa security, and begins to think that his task may be close to hopeless. He meets the rabbit Blackavar, who tried to escape but was caught by Campion. Blackavar was hurt very badly, and he is left out as a public demonstration. Bigwig decides that if he brings anyone out, Blackavar is coming with them. Bigwig meets Hyzenthlay and some other does, and later he has her come to see him. He talks to Hyzenthlay and tells her that he plans to break some does out of Efrafa. She is intelligent and helpful and tells him that they must leave in the next two nights, because after that their Mark does not go out at night. They settle on the next night, and she is to tell the does just before they go out to eat.

Analysis

Fiver again proves his mettle by pushing Hazel forward when he is plagued by doubt. Hazel is a good leader, but he takes many of his rabbits forward into a dangerous situation with a plan that is not yet complete, and he begins to wonder whether the risk is too great. Fiver provides a calm, confident voice of assurance, and he shows that he can lead the rabbits forward himself. Unlike almost all of the other rabbits, Fiver is not afraid of the unknown. The bridge does not scare him at all because he does not think that there are any greater dangers associated with it. The other rabbits do not want to cross the bridge because they have never seen anything like it. They do not understand how it works, but simply that it brings them to the other side of the river. The river itself scares most of them. Fiver is the steadying influence that they need in order to remain calm in the face of difficulties that they have not anticipated. Although neither the river nor the bridge presents a true danger, their foreignness threatens to scare the rabbits into inaction. Hazel's doubts are removed by Fiver's certainty that the river and bridge are not especially dangerous.

Bigwig is the strongest and most experienced of the group, but his role in the plan is also by far the most difficult. Indeed, the entire future of the warren rests in his hands. He is given to action more than planning, but he shows his cunning as he gets Woundwort to make him an officer and as he finds out information about Efrafa from the other officers. All the same, Bigwig is at a loss about what to do until he meets Hyzenthlay. She provides him the information he needs in order to make the break possible, and her clear thinking and good sense help him form a plan. Bigwig is acting on his own and facing incredible odds, and it helps him in several ways to find a friend he can count on. Hyzenthlay is very important not only for the plan, but also because Bigwig gains confidence knowing he is not completely alone in his task. He is up against a fearsome opponent in General Woundwort, who is surrounded by many brave, loyal, and fierce rabbits. With Hyzenthlay, at least Bigwig feels that there is someone on his side who believes in him and also wants the freedom that he is risking his life for. Bigwig's interactions with Blackavar also show that he is kind-hearted and just. He thinks that it is wrong for a warren to stop a rabbit from leaving, and he views the harsh treatment of Blackavar as terrible. Bigwig decides to take Blackavar with him, despite the added risk. The Efrafa warren genuinely outrages Bigwig, who now looks forward to upsetting its equilibrium. He is quite a fierce rabbit, and the fact that he seems to have justice on his side makes him a formidable opponent, even if he is greatly outnumbered. Furthermore, as Bigwig tells Hyzenthlay, he has the advantage that his rabbits are cleverer than the Efrafan rabbits, so their trick will be something the other rabbits could never anticipate.

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