What are some important quotes from Watership Down regarding its political significance?

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

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Clearly, this brilliant and compelling text is a loosely veiled allegory about the way that differences bring division and conflict into the world of humans, not just the world of rabbits. One key moment in the text which is worthy of greater analysis comes before the battle, when Hazel approaches Woundwort and tries to avoid the forthcoming fray with the following appeal. Consider how what Hazel says can be applied to humans:

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?

The political significance of this quote lies in the way that it contrasts Hazel and Woundwort. Woundwort, as is shown by his rejection of Hazel's powerful appeal, is focused on domination alone and is very limited in terms of his vision of the future. Hazel on the other hand sees that there is great value in the rabbits cooperating so that they can focus on the other many obstacles that they face as a species. Hazel's ultimate goal and aim is happiness for all and has no interest in his own personal position and whatever glory he may gain. Woundwort's goal above all, on the other hand, is to maintain his power and empire. Hazel's vision of the future is one that has the potential to offer peace and stability to the entire species. When we apply such a vision to our own species, we can see that what Hazel says has significant value, in spite of the obvious differences that interfere in human cooperation. Hazel, however, remains true to his vision, in spite of the difficulties that this vision faces, and this should inspire us to likewise cling to such a vision of politics and human interaction.

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