Watership Down Topics for Further Study
by Richard Adams

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Topics for Further Study

(Novels for Students)

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How is General Woundwort like other dictators in human history? What methods does he use to control his community, and how are these similar to methods that have been used in repressive regimes throughout history? Do you think that his experience of an unhappy youth fully explains his actions?

When the Watership Down rabbits meet Cowslip, they find that his community has highly developed art, poetry, and architecture, and that these rabbits look down on the religious beliefs and mythological tales the less-sophisticated Watership Down rabbits share. Are there parallels between these rabbit societies and others in human history? For instance, when Europeans first met native people throughout the world, how did they view the spiritual beliefs and customs of these people in comparison to their own?

The rabbits in Cowslip's warren pay a price for their high standard of living: they have lost their freedom. If someone offered you all the wealth and comfort you ever dreamed of in exchange for your freedom (and perhaps someday, your life or that of someone you love), would you take it? Why or why not?

Watership Down speaks strongly against development, and strongly for the preservation of the environment and the habitat of animals. In the book, the animals are the heroes and humans are shortsighted and greedy. Is there a place near you that has been destroyed by development, as the rabbits' home warren was? What was it like before, and what is it like now? Are shopping malls, suburban developments, parking lots, golf courses, and other places worth the price of losing wild land?

Adams creates a whole world for his rabbit characters, with its own language, customs, mythology, and spiritual beliefs. These are based loosely on real, observed characteristics of rabbits as described by naturalist R. M. Lockley, whom Adams often quotes in the book. Choose an animal of your own and invent a language and society for it, basing these on real characteristics of the animal as described by naturalists.