Literature Study GuidesWatership DownPart 4 Chapters 49 50 Summary

Watership Down | Study Guide

Richard Adams

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Watership Down | Part 4, Chapters 49–50 : Hazel-Rah | Summary

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Summary

Part 4, Chapter 49: Hazel Comes Home

The epigraph, from Robert Graves's poem, "Two Fusiliers," speaks of luck and friendship. The Efrafans have been scattered by the dog, who finally ends up catching an Efrafan who had been wounded earlier in the journey. Woundwort is gone, five Efrafans have surrendered to Fiver in the warren, and the rest have gone with Captain Campion back to Efrafa.

Bigwig is half-dead, but when Hazel arrives, he is able to stand up and go to silflay. Hazel tells him he arrived in a car, which Bigwig doesn't believe, but Hyzenthlay remembers having a vision of a rabbit in a car back at Efrafa. Bigwig tells both of them to tell the story to Fiver, who would actually believe them.

Part 4, Chapter 50: And Last

The epigraph, from Jane Austen's novel, Northanger Abbey, is very appropriate to the story's ending, with a "General's interference" having made things finally better, rather than worse, in the long run. The Efrafans settle into the warren because Hazel makes sure that the others treat them like they belong there. Three litters of kittens have been born, including a litter from Fiver and his doe, Vilthuril. One of the kittens is a visionary, like Fiver. Bigwig, who is now captain of the Owsla, tells stories to the young rabbits training for Owsla. Groundsel says Woundwort, who Bigwig had said was not like a rabbit at all, is not dead but gone to start a new warren somewhere else. Hazel insists Groundsel and the others have done well. He says Campion is running Efrafa in a slightly different way and is doing well. Hazel thinks the idea of a new warren between Efrafa and Watership Down with rabbits from each warren is a good idea to pursue now that Woundwort is gone. The little rabbit who has Fiver's visionary skills makes the others who are listening to a story find shelter because he says a horseman is coming. No one else can hear it, but the little one knows it's there, and he is, of course, right.

Analysis

The rabbits who run into the warren to escape the dog all surrender to "Captain Fiver," whose powers are now quite developed, having convinced them that he has risen from the dead. Hazel's insistence that the Efrafan "prisoners" be treated as new members of their warren, not enemies, makes sure that these former soldiers lead a much freer life, but the rules of Efrafa are still imprinted on them. They all still have respect for General Woundwort, which is impossible to shake because his rule is all they have ever known. Hazel assures them that they have been just as instructive to his warren and they are a useful addition. Hazel's ideas of a new warren may come to fruition after all. Hazel's peaceful personality and insistence that the rabbits treat each other well makes for a much happier group than there was in Efrafa.

Hyzenthlay's vision earlier in the novel foreshadowed Hazel's car ride to freedom. Hazel achieves legendary status even greater than before, coming back from the farm alive. He continues to use a gentle but firm leadership style to keep the group running smoothly, making Bigwig the captain of a "very free-and-easy Owsla."

The description of all of the plant life and the sunny weather are techniques that the author uses to signify that the warren is peaceful and that the siege is long past. There is plenty to eat for everyone, and the location of the warren is safer than most.

The new litters of kittens are proof that Hazel's warren is a comfortable place where the rabbits can be themselves, choose their own mates, and live their lives without fear of their leaders. The does are able to conceive and give birth because they are not in a crowded situation or stressed. Fiver, in particular, is "devoted" to his doe, and one of his kittens takes after him. Vilthuril, his doe, knows it right away, and in this warren, everyone now believes that it's possible to see into the future, thanks to Fiver and his visions.

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