Watership Down

by: Richard Adams

Chapters 30–32

The rabbits are on another journey, and this time they are trying to do the most difficult thing that they have ever done. They are more confident in Hazel's ability to lead them then ever before. The fact that there is no questioning of Hazel, even though he has not yet revealed Blackberry's plan, shows that the group has become very loyal. They trust each other with their lives. At this point they are also battle veterans; having been through many tough scrapes together, they are not likely to be easily frightened or to make foolish moves. Nonetheless, there is always danger in the wilderness, and here the fox represents that danger. Hazel wants all the rabbits to simply run away before the fox gets close, but Bigwig runs off on his own. No one would ever question Bigwig's loyalty, but he sometimes acts of his own accord, which that can be both dangerous and advantageous. It is important that someone other than Hazel is able to seize the initiative, as Hazel cannot always be everywhere at once and sometimes needs others to make decisions. However, the downside is that when Hazel plans on doing one thing, Bigwig may do something else and upset the plan. Bigwig is not really ever in danger with the fox, but one of the three strange rabbits is killed because of his actions. Hazel is upset with Bigwig for taking an unnecessary risk, which demonstrates the major difference in their personalities. Hazel thinks of a fox as a risk, and he wants to get the entire group out of the area before anything can go wrong. Bigwig sees the fox as an animal that cannot hurt him if he is careful, so he acts accordingly. Hazel, however, acts with the safety of the group in mind, while Bigwig simply acts on his own. Bigwig would not be as effective a leader as Hazel because of his tendency to take rash actions like play with the fox. However, this also means that Bigwig can go and do things that Hazel himself cannot afford to do.