Literature Study GuidesWatership DownPart 2 Chapters 24 25 Summary

Watership Down | Study Guide

Richard Adams

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Watership Down | Part 2, Chapters 24–25 : On Watership Down | Summary

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Summary

Part 2, Chapter 24: Nuthanger Farm

The epigraph for this chapter is from Robin Hood and the Monk (Child's Ballads, No. 119) and describes how, when Robin Hood prayed to get himself safely out of Nottingham, the monk appeared to help him. Hazel can't stand that he is not with Holly to help get does, and the fact that they all know there are does at Nuthanger Farm eats at him. He finally goes to check out the farm but doesn't tell anyone he's doing so, except for Pipkin, who goes with him. Hazel talks with the rabbits there and discovers that there are two bucks and two does—Laurel and Boxwood are the bucks and Clover and Haystack are the does. Hazel is nearly chased by a cat that Pipkin spots, but he escapes, and he and Pipkin head for home.

Part 2, Chapter 25: The Raid

When Hazel and Pipkin get back to the warren late at night, Fiver accuses Hazel of selfishness, especially since while he was away, Kehaar came to give a report about Holly's progress, but Hazel didn't even ask about Holly. Fiver thinks Hazel is trying to show off, taking does from the farm, but Bigwig thinks it's a great idea. Kehaar warns the raid party about that cats. Fiver tells Hazel he sees him all alone in his visions, so Hazel promises not to go into the farm but just supervise from the outside.

The raid party consists of Bigwig, Hazel, Speedwell, Blackberry, Dandelion, and Hawkbit. With the help of Speedwell Bigwig tackles the cat, coming out of the fight with a few big scratches but successfully keeping the cat away. Blackberry helps to open the hutch door. The hutch rabbits are "painfully slow" and afraid of the cat, but they make their way across the yard. Two of the rabbits get left behind, and Hazel goes back to get them because the dog is barking and they are too afraid to move. The dog settles down, but another cat, a tabby, has Hazel in its sights.

Suddenly, lights appear, and a car drives in. There are men there; they realize that "Lucy's rabbits is out," and Hazel serves as a distraction while Dandelion and Haystack make a run for the lane. However, Hazel does not count on the men having a gun. One of the men shoots Hazel, who drags himself into a ditch and squeezes into a land drain. The men look for him and see blood, but they don't find him. Bigwig and the others have to go back to the warren without Hazel. Fiver knows what has happened already. The mood at the warren is sad, especially because Holly also shows up and three of the four rabbits who went looking for does are hurt. They have no does and are in rough shape.

Analysis

For the first time Hazel lets his desire to be a hero override his good sense. Fiver knows that he is going to be hurt, but Hazel insists that he will be safe. Hazel usually trusts Fiver, but when he ignores Fiver's advice, terrible things happen. Hazel also breaks his promise to Fiver, going back to try to get Haystack and Laurel. He puts everyone in danger and pays for it dearly. Because of his loyalty to Hazel, Dandelion accompanies him, and while it's true that they get a doe out of the operation, the result is not what Dandelion would have wanted.

Fear plays a role in this section, keeping the hutch rabbits from escaping the farm quickly: they can't move because they are too afraid. Hazel and Dandelion have to resort to tricks to get them to move. Haystack chooses not to be left behind even though Laurel has been captured, though she risks her life by running with a wild rabbit. Freedom is too close for her to turn it down, so she takes a chance.

The author uses point of view to heighten the drama and suspense in this section. The lights of the car, the men's voices, the cats and dog, and even the blast of the gun are all described from the perspective of a wild rabbit trying to escape without getting caught or killed. Hazel's perceptions are particularly vivid. He remembers the scent of beanflowers as he jumps into the ditch to hide from the men, and when they come to find him after he has been shot, the way he discovers a hiding spot is described using the sense of touch, sound, and smell. The narrator says of Hazel, "Suddenly he was aware of a draft against one side of his nose, a smell of damp, rotten matter and a hollow, echoing sound at his very ear." The reader can picture what that must feel like, smell like, and sound like.

When everyone at the warren realizes that Hazel may be dead, a silence comes over the group. The survival of the group is partly ensured because they now have two new does, but no one wants to celebrate because their leader is gone. The descriptive language gives the reader a strong impression of the sadness and despair the warren experiences, as Dandelion is "inconsolable," and the meeting to welcome the does ends in "a dreary silence and a half-hearted silflay."

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