Skip over navigation

Watership Down

Richard Adams

Chapters 39–41

Chapters 36–38

Chapters 42–46

Summary

Chapter 39: The Bridges

The rabbits float down the river, wondering what to do next. Kehaar tells them that there is a bridge coming and that they might not fit under it. They squeeze through the bridge, but one of the does is hurt as they go under. They come to another bridge that stops the boat. Kehaar tells them to jump out and swim underneath the bridge, and he does so himself just to show them that it is safe. Hazel does not know whether Kehaar's advice is sound for rabbits, but then a group of men passes over the bridge and Hazel realizes how unsafe their position is. He and Pipkin jump into the water, and Blackavar follows behind them. Once safe on land, Blackavar points out that they can walk around to the other side. From there they tell the others that it is safe to jump. Although some of the does need convincing, they finally all jump in, drift to the shore, and fall asleep.

Chapter 40: The Way Back

In the morning they learn that the doe who was injured going under the bridge has died during the night. Hazel and Bigwig say goodbye to Kehaar, who takes off for the ocean, promising to return in the winter. Then the rabbits set off on the road home. Blackavar proves himself very useful because from his Efrafan training he knows how to track very well. At one point, Hazel wants to stop and dig some holes to stay in for a few days, and Fiver is not opposed to doing so. Blackavar feels that they are in fox country, but Bigwig disagrees and Hazel decides they should rest.

Two days later, a fox grabs one of the does. The group moves on. They stumble upon Captain Campion, who only sees a few of them and tries to get them to surrender, but soon realizes he is outnumbered. Hazel prepares to go past without any force, but Blackavar tells him they must kill the patrol or else it will report back to Efrafa. They move on without fighting and make their wake back to their warren at the downs. Campion and his patrol, who have looped back behind them, see the warren and then go back to Efrafa to report.

Chapter 41: The Story of Rowsby Woof and the Fairy Wogdog

Everyone is content in the warren. The sixteen bucks manage to get along with only ten does, and they are all pleased to be once again living normal rabbit lives. They persuade Dandelion to tell them a story, and he tells them about the time that El-ahrairah and Rabscuttle played a trick on Rowsby Woof, a vicious dog, so that they could eat some good food. El-ahrairah dressed up and pretended to be the Fairy Wogdog, a spirit sent by the Dog Queen. El-ahrairah and Rabscuttle got their food and left Rowsby Woof convinced that he saved both his master and the Fairy Wogdog from an evil rat spirit.

Analysis

Kehaar has helped the rabbits many times, and he promises to return to them sometime in the future. If Hazel had not made the decision to befriend Kehaar the rabbits never would have been able to make their daring road on Efrafa. Kehaar's help is invaluable, and there is a reason that Bigwig likes the gull so much. Brave and just, Kehaar could have simply used the rabbits until he was healthy and then left. Instead, he has remained with them for a long time, first helping them find a warren with other rabbits, then accompanying them on their journey and even fighting off Woundwort and the Efrafans for them. Kehaar represents the extra advantage that Hazel and his rabbits need in their battles, and it is only fitting that he leaves while they are on their way back to the warren with does. They have everything that they need. In reality, Kehaar can no longer help them, but they want him to come back anyway because he has become a friend. The fact that he is a bird and they are rabbits is no longer any sort of a barrier, and they treat each other as equals.

Blackavar helps the rabbits as they track their way back to their home warren. Like Strawberry, Blackavar has lived in a different warren and has different skills to offer them. However, unlike Strawberry, whose talents mostly involve digging, Blackavar has been trained in the highly militarized Efrafa. He knows things about tracking, following, and patrolling that none of Hazel's rabbits, including Bigwig, have ever learned. Blackavar's presence also means that they have one of the enemy amongst their ranks. Hazel's band has continually made itself stronger by picking up new ways and adapting. Now they can learn from Blackavar what they need to know of the ways of the Efrafans. However, although Blackavar worries about Campion and his patrol, the other rabbits never really consider the fact that they may be followed. As far as they are concerned, the battle is over and they were victorious. Woundwort, however, does not give up so easily, and has likely sent Campion out on patrol to find the group. Hazel and his rabbits know that no patrol from Efrafa can stop them, so they are not afraid of anything else. It never occurs to them that there would be any reason for Campion to follow them. Blackavar advises them not to let Campion's patrol leave alive, and he must have a reason for his suggestion. He is probably afraid of retaliation form Woundwort, and the fact that Campion does follow them suggests that Blackavar is probably right. However, willing as they are to adapt to new situations, Hazel and his rabbits simply cannot comprehend the military nature of the Efrafans. The thought that the Efrafans would continue to hunt for them and attempt some sort of retaliation seems absurd. There are twenty-six rabbits in Hazel's warren, and it would take quite a massive attack to take them by force. They never even consider the possibility that Woundwort might take further action.

More Help

Previous Next

Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!

Follow Us