What are some significant quotations from Watership Down?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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What is important to remember about this classic book is that it is an allegory that uses a community of rabbits to comment upon the community of humans and the many problems that emerge. So, when you consider this novel, have in the back of your mind the way in which this novel implicitly comments upon humans. Here is my first quote that I would pick out:

A rabbit has two ears; a rabbit has two eyes, two nostrils. Our two warrens ought to be like that. They ought to be together—not fighting. We ought to make other warrens between us—start one between here and Efrafa, with rabbits from both sides. You wouldn't lose by that, you'd gain. We both would. A lot of your rabbits are unhappy now and it's all you can do to control them, but with this plan you'd soon see a difference. Rabbits have enough enemies as it is. They ought not to make more among themselves. A mating between free, independent warrens—what do you say?

This quote is said by Hazel to Woundwort and represents a deal that he tries to make with his enemy before the fight. This quote is important because of the way that it explains Hazel's vision for Efrafa and we can see how he sticks to it. Hazel does not want domination and complete power over the Efrafans, as Woundwort does over Hazel and his group of rabbits. Rather he wants a united group of rabbits so that this group can work together to meet the challenges that face them. This quote is very important in establishing Hazel as a strong leader as he cares more about the happiness of rabbits than he does about his own position and glory. This quote of course also sharply contrasts Woundwort and Hazel. Above all, it presents a vision of unity that should inspire humans to stick together.

Lastly, consider this final quote about Woundwort and his accomplishments:

Did you see his body? No. Did anyone? No. Nothing could kill him. He made rabbits bigger than they've ever been—braver, more skillful, more cunning. I know we paid for it. Some gave their lives. It was worth it, to feel we were Efrafans. For the first time ever, rabbits didn't go scurrying away. The elil feared us. And that was on account of Woundwort—him and no one but him. We weren't good enough for the General. Depend upon it, he's gone to start another warren somewhere else. But no Efrafan officer will ever forget him.

These words are said by Groundsel, who is one of the Efrafan officers who stays with Hazel. He is talking about Woundwort and praising his achievements. This quote shows the charisma and inspiration of a great leader and the way that people can believe in him. However, what is interesting is that Groundsel suggests it has been worth the sacrifice of so many lives, which seems to comment upon the danger of totalitarian regimes run by dictators. This quote therefore can be used to indicate the subtle dangers of indoctrination and the seduction of glory and power.

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