“But you have no does!” and Other Thoughts on Watership Down

I’m about a third of the way through Watership Down and have, shockingly, made it past the point where I had previously stopped reading.

As some of you may know, I have tried to read Watership Down before with poor results. I made it up to the part where they reached Cowslip’s warren, and not much further. I put it down, knowing I’d have to come back to it eventually because it’s on the List. I remember complaining, often, that “I don’t care about rabbits hopping around from one field to the next.” When describing the book to colleagues, I called it “The Lord of the Rings, but with rabbits.” Instead of a rag-tag team of heroes walking walking walking walking endlessly around, Watership Down features rabbits hopping hopping hopping hopping endlessly around. What fun.

Nevertheless, Watership Down is what came out of the bowl after Titus Andronicus and so Watership Down is what I am reading.

It’s not actually going that bad. Hazel and his crew are kicking along, having narrowly escaped certain death a number of times now, moving from their home warren, Sandleford, to the “warren of the snares”, which they escaped just in time, and now have settled in Watership Down. The reading has been a tad slow but easy and light. A nice change of pace from Titus Andronicus.

Despite all of their successes, though, what I keep coming back to as I read is that these rabbits have no does. Whose idea was it to leave their home warren, set up shop somewhere new, and not think to bring any does along? How, exactly, do they think they’ll survive without the ability to reproduce? And even before you get to the issue of sustainability, there’s the fact that bucks (male rabbits) apparently don’t dig. Here’s a great idea – let’s leave our home and go settle somewhere else, but let’s not bring any females, even though they’re the only ones who dig (and therefore can build a new warren) and we need them for reproduction. Nah, let’s just go without them. In fact, let’s not even consider this at all, let’s just go. Good? Great.

Aside from poor planning, I’m also surprised by the apparent resilience of the little guys. They have been bitten, beaten, bloodied, snared, been on high alert of days without knowing where they would spend the night, and those rabbits just keep on keepin’ on. It’s impressive.

More later, off to do other things now!

image source: www.goodreads.com

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