Watership Down


Chapters 15–17

Summary Chapters 15–17

It is a strange life indeed that the rabbits of the warren are living, for although they are larger and better fed than any other rabbits, their numbers are continually cut down by an enemy upon whom they depend. They do not know how to fend for themselves, and their fear of traveling off into the wilderness is so great that they prefer to live and die by the snares than to be free. Staying in such a warren means living a completely solitary life, as any rabbit or his friend might suddenly be killed at any time. Normal rabbit existence is somewhat similar except that number of deaths is fewer and the danger is neither as certain nor as calculated. But the rabbits in this warren know no other existence, and their fear of the unknown is greater even than their fear of death. It is easier for them to pretend that the man throws out the food than to face the truth and be forced to live on their own.

The rabbits of the warren are very similar to domesticated animals in that they no longer know how to live as wild rabbits live. The unnatural quality of their lives is very simple—they are no longer a part of what we consider the natural world; in fact, they might as well be living in cages. Although they have the illusion of freedom, they all know deep down that the snares are ever- present, and they doom themselves the moment they make the decision to live off of food the farmer gives them rather than food they find themselves. The rabbits who are born in the warren never really have a chance to live any other way; much like domesticated animals, they are provided for all their lives.