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).
The 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 »