Watership Down Character: Blackavar

Blackavar

In Chapter 35 of Watership Down, “Groping,” Bigwig has infiltrated the Soviet-style Efrafan warren, and makes this observation of its inhabitants: “…never in his life had he seen such a cheerless, dispirited lot of rabbits.” Due to the oppressive rule of General Woundwort the warren was in decline, and Bigwig observes a disfigured rabbit. Adams gives this description:

This rabbit had very dark fur — almost black. But this was not the most remarkable thing about him. He was dreadfully mutilated. His ears were nothing but shapeless shreds, ragged at the edges, seamed with ill-knit scars and beaded here and there with lumps of proud, bare flesh. One eye-lid was misshapen and closed askew. Despite the cool, exciting air of the July evening, he seemed apathetic and torpid. He kept his gaze fixed on the ground and blinked continually. After a time he lowered his head and rubbed his nose on his forepaws in a listless manner. Then he scratched his neck and settled down in his former drooping position.

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Watership Down: Its Biblical Parallels and Allusions

Whether it’s literature, music, cinema, or anything creative, I view the work and critique it through a theological lens. Richard Adams’ wonderful book, Watership Down receives the same treatment. I have written of the spiritual dimensions of the characters in earlier postings, e.g. Hazel, Bigwig, and Lord El-ahrairah. While reading through the book’s pages I noted many times the biblical parallels that Adams places in his first work. In this posting there will be a few examples of biblical references, or allusions. The mythology and primitive religion in this novel has no direct correspondence to Christianity — Adams does not write an allegory. In fact, Adams has stated in interviews that he intended no spiritual or religious theme to be in the book. But, again, parallels and allusions are found — and with some you would have to be a bit myopic not to see them.

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Watership Down Podcast: Emerging from Darkness into Light

rabbit blackIn August, 2016 Doxacon Seattle took place at South Seattle College.  This year’s Doxacon theme took on the contrast of Darkness and Light.  The following podcast is the recording of my presentation on the emergence of the rabbits of Richard Adam’s fabulous story from darkness and death into light and life; their emergence from restriction into full expression of being and person as they imitate their Lord El-ahrairah.  It is a story of their salvation.  It is thus, a story of our own salvation in Christ as we as Christians imitate our Lord Jesus Christ.  The link below comes from Ancient Faith Radio.

In Christ,

Fr. Irenaeus

http://www.ancientfaith.com/specials/doxacon_2016/emerging_from_darkness_and_moving_into_light_in_richard_adamss_watership_do


Wateship Down Characters: General Woundwort

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General Woundwort

Every novel needs a villain or two. Watership Down is no different — Richard Adams gives his readers General Woundwort, the dictatorial Chief Rabbit of the Efrafan Warren. Adams provides the General’s “bio” in chapter 34.

General Woundwort was a singular rabbit. Some three years before, he had been born — the strongest of a litter of five — in a burrow outside a cottage garden near Cole Henley. His father, a happy-go-lucky and reckless buck, had thought nothing of living close to human beings except that he would be able to forage in their garden in the early morning.

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Watership Down — The Warren of the Snares

images-24There were three warrens Hazel and the others rabbits encountered which threatened their existence before the establishment of Watership Down as their home. They fled the unknown and unnamed threat of slaughter in the warren of their birth — the Sandleford Warren. After their flight from death into the unknown, they come upon a sleek, handsome, and sophisticated rabbit named Cowslip. “He had the air of an aristocrat and as he turned to gaze at Blackberry from his great brown eyes, Hazel began to see himself as a ragged wanderer, leader of a gang of vagabonds” (p. 65). We then have the initial interaction between the two groups of rabbits:

“We’ve come over the heather,” he [Hazel] said.The other rabbit made no reply, but his look was not that of an enemy. His demeanor had a kind of melancholy which was perplexing.
“Do you live here?” asked Hazel, after a pause.
“Yes,” replied the other rabbit; and then added, “We saw you come.”
“We mean to live here, too,” said Hazel firmly.
The other rabbit showed no concern. He paused and then answered, “Why not? We supposed you would. But I don’t think there are enough of you, are there, to live very comfortably on your own?”’
Hazel felt puzzled (p. 65).

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Watership Down Character — Fiver

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Hazel and Fiver

The Character of Fiver in Richard Adams’ Watership Down can easily be overlooked.  Fiver can be passed over by the reader and assigned a secondary role behind Hazel and Bigwig, or Thlayli.  However, this is a mistake.  In fact, Fiver’s role as prophet, seer, and mystic propels the rabbits forward on their adventure of discovery and transformation.  His gifts save the rabbits and bring clarity to their encounters and their mission – to create a new type of warren for a new breed of rabbit.
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Watership Down Characters – Bigwig (Thlayli)

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Bigwig, or Thlayli

There are three primary rabbit characters in Richard Adams’ Watership Down. There are the two brothers, Hazel and Fiver. The third primary cunicular hero is Bigwig — his name in the lapine language is Thlayli. He is large — even imposing — and possesses great physical strength. The evening after Fiver pronounces his vision of doom and death for the Sandleford warren, Bigwig approaches Hazel and Fiver and we read this dialogue:

“Hello, Bigwig,” said Hazel. “You’re off duty?”
“Off duty,” said Bigwig, “and likely to remain off duty…The Threarah’s [name of the Chief Rabbit of their warren] rather good at making himself unpleasant when he’s been woken up…I told him that the Owsla’s privileges didn’t mean all that much to me in any case, and that a strong rabbit could always do just as well by leaving the warren…lettuce stealing isn’t my idea of a jolly life.” (p. 15).

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Watership Down Characters — Hazel

Richard Adams’ Watership Down is perhaps my favorite work of fiction, and is among my favorite authors. I find the book profound in its message of courage and transformation, and even salvation. It is far more than a novel about human politics. All quotes come from the Perennial Classics print of the book (2001).

rabbit blackThe outstanding theme of Richard Adams’ Watership Down is transformation — the salvation brought about by transformation from a lesser to a greater person, or rabbit in the case of the novel’s heroes, especially the protagonist Hazel. Transformation can only come through one’s movements through challenge, struggle, hardship, and even suffering. Movement of the person (rabbit) through such situations may not lead to a transformation into a better or greater person, but may lead to the formation of a bitter, violent soul. Thus, as one moves through trials one needs a model — a guide — to imitate. “We become who we imitate.” Hazel had as his model the cunicular exemplar: Lord El-ahrairah. It is this archetypical rabbit’s character and acts that transformed Hazel from a scared, simple “bunny” to the king (Chief Rabbit) of the glorious warren named Watership Down. Read the rest of this entry »


Watership Down Characters – the Black Rabbit of Inle

Richard Adams’ Watership Down is perhaps my favorite work of fiction, and is among my favorite authors. I find the book profound in its message of courage and transformation, and even salvation. It is far more than a novel about human politics. All quotes come from the Perennial Classics print of the book (2001).

images-14Shortly after the rabbits of Watership Down reach their new home (Watership Down), there is a frightening encounter experienced by Hazel, Speedwell, Dandelion, and Bigwig in the chapter “Fear in the Dark.” “There’s something coming up the line of the hedge,” replied Speedwell. “An animal. Making a lot of noise, too.” They discuss the possibilities of the source of threat. Then things become intense.

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Watership Down Characters: El-ahrairah

Richard Adams’ Watership Down is perhaps my favorite work of fiction, and he is among my favorite authors. I find the book profound in its message of courage and transformation, and even salvation. It is far more than a novel about human politics. All quotes come from the Perennial Classics print of the book (2001).

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El-ahrairah

Though it is clear that Hazel (who becomes Hazel-rah) is the primary character of Watership Down, Lord El-ahrairah is the primary background character. In fact, the story cannot be understood apart from El-ahrairah. El-ahrairah is a multifaceted character. He is a creature, a creation of Frith. He is the first rabbit. He is an archetype. He is a savior to rabbits, yet he needs salvation. He is daring and he is frail. He is bold and extremely clever, yet he can be afraid. He is mortal yet has a spiritual immortality. This is El-arhrairah.

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Watership Down Characters – Frith

FRITH

Richard Adams’ Watership Down is perhaps my favorite work of fiction, and is among my favorite authors. I find the book profound in its message of courage and transformation, and even salvation. It is far more than a novel about human politics. All quotes come from the Perennial Classics print of the book (2001).

I begin my discussion of the characters of Watership Down with Frith because Frith is Creator.  Frith is both rabbit-like and sun-like.  This dual character is seen in the creation narrative in the sixth chapter.  It is relayed by Dandelion to the other rabbits the night they fled from the Sandleford warren.

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Long ago, Frith made the world. He made all the stars, too, and the world is one of the stars. He made them by scattering his droppings of the sky and this is why the grass and the trees grow so thick on the world. Frith makes the rivers flow. They follow him as he goes through the sky, and when he leaves the sky they look for him all night. Frith made all the animals and birds, but when he first made them they were all the same…Because the world was new and Frith shone down bright and warm all day (p 27).

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“Journey to the Source” – Chapter One: Unexplained Vessels

“Journey to the Source”

Chapter One:  Unexplained Vessels

Zetophos descended from the ambo of the vessel Friendship’s chapel down into its nave:  “Let us depart in peace,” he called out.

“To serve in love and thanksgiving the Giver of Light and Life,” replied those assembled for the Sacred Liturgy.  Zetophos completed the liturgy with the dismissal and final blessings.  He consumed the remaining Bread and Drink of the Sacrament, reset the Altar, then began to remove his vestments in the sacristy. Read the rest of this entry »


“The Incorporation of Tresuios”

Another Short Story which precedes in time “The Day of Light.”

He has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in heaven and on earth.
-St. Paul

“Tres, you’re daydreaming!  We should hurry, the others are probably waiting for us by now.” Read the rest of this entry »


“The Visions of Theosebase”

A Short Story which precedes in time “The Day of Light.”

He has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
– St. Paul

Kalous awoke prematurely.  He remained motionless on his mat.  His nose and eyes burned and itched because of the pollen released by the grasses of outlying fields.  If it wasn’t for the stifling heat’s daily invasion during the late afternoon they wouldn’t have to leave the windows open to cool off the cell.  Sleep would be impossible if they didn’t do so.  Among his cellmates, he was the only one who suffered from these allergies, but the torment would be gone by the fourth full-turn [1] of the day.  Read the rest of this entry »


“The Day of Light”

A Short Story by Fr. Irenaeus Williams

“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in the heavens, making peace by the blood of his cross”
– St. Paul

With this first report from the journey, allow me to introduce myself: my name is Zetophos. In the Old Language it means “Light Seeker.” My background is that of Taerophos [1] (priest), historian, and auxiliary navigator. I was chosen to serve on this mission in those capacities because of my extensive study of the Day of Light and its historical setting, and my familiarity with flight conditions from limited missions within our solar system. Read the rest of this entry »