A lendri (badger) surprises the rabbits and they run away from it. Then they come to a river that Fiver decides they need to cross, but they are unsure if they can. To the rabbits the river seems immense, but on the other side are fields that look much better than they woods where they have been.


It is clear from the beginning that Fiver is correct in his premonition that something bad will happen to the warren. However, the chain of events that occurs after Hazel and Fiver speak to the Threarah in some ways seems inevitable. A young rabbit comes to the Chief Rabbit claiming that they must leave their warren and move somewhere else. The Chief Rabbit is not willing to entertain this sort of suggestion, and he has good reason. Moving the warren would be a very difficult task, and it would also upset the balance of power. The Chief Rabbit is already the highest-ranking rabbit, so he has little to gain if he takes Fiver's advice. But while the Threarah can only lose if the rabbits leave the warren, young rabbits like Hazel and Fiver have much to gain. Unfortunately, Fiver's advice might easily be interpreted as an attempt to gain power. Personal reward is seen as the primary motivating factor for rabbits' actions—a strong parallel between rabbit and human societies. The Threarah and his Owsla would not be entirely incorrect with this view, as Fiver, Hazel, and the other rabbits are unhappy with the warren. They do not convince anyone to leave who is not already discontented. Rabbit society, like human society and perhaps all societies, is made up of some individuals who have advantages and are happy, and others who are disadvantaged and upset.

Captain Holly tries to stop Hazel and the others because he believes that they are in the process of staging a coup. His act demonstrates the actions of rabbits in power: they judge others' actions according to how those acts might affect their own power, and if there is a possibility of a threat, they react in order to protect their position. Although Bigwig leaves the Owsla and takes Silver with him because he wants to leave with Hazel, Holly sees the defection of two of the leading rabbits and assumes they must be plotting something. Bigwig leaves the Owsla because he does not consider their powers and privileges to be anything special and because he believes Fiver. However, Holly and the other Owsla members cannot understand that. They themselves want those powers and privileges, so they cannot comprehend why anyone else would willingly give them up. Therefore, they reason that Bigwig is attempting to arrange a coup in order to get even more power for himself. Hazel and his friends, leaving because they trust Fiver but also because they are unhappy at the warren, want to find a better life somewhere else. Bigwig and Silver also want a better life, even though they are in positions of authority at the warren. Bigwig and Silver hold different concepts of happiness than the other Owsla; because of this, they must force their way out of the warren, even though they mean no harm.