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'Watership Down' Quotes

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Watership Down - Richard Adams

Watership Down - Richard Adams

Rex Collings
Watership Down is a novel by Richard Adams. I think many of us first encountered this book in high school--it often appears on required or suggested-reading lists. The work is an allegory: a fantasy about a group of rabbits in search of a warren. Here are a few quotes from Watership Down.
  • "The Threarah doesn't like anything he hasn't thought of for himself."
    - Richard Adams, Watership Down

Note: This quote refers to the chief rabbit, and it tells us a little bit about the leadership in the rabbit community. This is the type of example that the younger generations have to follow--the leaders they have to look up to. It's very self-centered, and does not consider what is best for the community.
  • "El-ahrairah, your people cannot rule the world, for I will not have it so. All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed."
    - Richard Adams, Watership Down
Note: This quote reminds us of many of the trickster-like tales and legends. In Watership Down, the quote is derived from Dandelion's myth. As in many of the other mythic tales we're familiar with in literary history, gifts are given: intelligence (cunning), speed (runner), and strength (digger).
  • "Rabbits need dignity and above all the will to accept their fate."
    - Richard Adams, Watership Down
  • "They'd altered what rabbits do naturally because they thought they could do better."
    - Richard Adams, Watership Down

Note: Animals in the wild will act (and react) in certain ways that seem natural, but are also part of learned responses. When they "learn" that those behaviors are no longer required, some animals begin to act in un-natural ways. They could have comfortable burrows (for example), but buck rabbits won't (can't) dig. Their (natural) way of life has been changed.

  • "I think we ought to do all we can to make these creatures friendly. It might turn out to be well worth the trouble."
    - Richard Adams, Watership Down
  • "The truth is, you're just a silly show-off."
    - Richard Adams, Watership Down

  • "We all have to meet our match sometime or other."
    - Richard Adams, Watership Down

  • "I have learned that with creatures one loves, suffering is not the only thing for which one may pity them. A rabbit who does not know when a gift has made him safe is poorer than a slug, even though he may think otherwise himself."
    - Richard Adams, Watership Down

  • "If a rabbit gave advice and the advice wasn't accepted, he immediately forgot it, and so did everyone else."
    - Richard Adams, Watership Down

  • "If my authority goes, where will yours be in half a day."
    - Richard Adams, Watership Down

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