Free Study Guide for Watership Down by Richard Adams|
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WATERSHIP DOWN FREE STUDY GUIDE
Holly is a minor character in the first half of the book as he is the Captain of the Sandleford Owsla who tries to prevent Hazel and the others from leaving.
However, he escaped the destroyed warren and catches up to the travelers whereupon
he becomes valuable for his skill and experience. He also provides a test
of Hazel’s maturity in the Efrafa versus the farm business. Hazel is quite
content with being the "chief rabbit" even if he says he doesn’t
think of himself that way and has a sudden stubborn streak about being
upstaged by Holly. In the end, though, Holly is quite content to occupy
a position of less authority than he had once been used to.
The premier example of "absolute power corrupting absolutely" in the animal kingdom.
Woundwort is a complex but static character who exhibits many good characteristics
of leaders, but also lacks some important ones. His primary objective
is power and control. If he seems at times to have some sensitivity toward
the needs of his soldiers, it is only because he knows that devotion to
one like himself has to be continuously purchased. Yet he is not lacking
in courage, cleverness, or intelligence and is able to maintain his position
partially because he will himself do anything he asks his followers to
do, and will even lead the way into danger himself. Although he is an
exceptionally large rabbit, part of the difficulty in fighting him comes
from the fact that he never takes his size for granted or assumes brute
strength alone will win all his battles. He is a strategist who never
stops thinking and knows when to back down and approach an enemy from
another side. Among the rabbits, he is a genius, but he is also feared
and hated even by some of his own Owsla.
He is not an actual "character" in the story but rather an important folk hero who is featured as the protagonist in all of the stories the rabbits tell each other whenever they need entertainment or inspiration.
El-ahrairah is a trickster who achieves his ends by outsmarting his enemies rather than by fighting them. He is an example of ingenuity and the importance of being willing to make changes. He also establishes important "values" in the rabbit culture; for example, it is perfectly acceptable for a rabbit to steal or trick his enemies into giving him what he wants. Yet, he must also accept the fact that others will always be ready to get back at him if they can. El-ahrairah is a common motif known as the "trickster" image and appears by many different names in literatures of various cultures. He is outside the realm of acceptable society and can thus get away with actions that "normal" characters might wish they could do. His deeds are typically self-serving, but may occasionally be beneficial for others. Most of his tricks are harmless, leaving even his worst enemies with nothing worse than humiliation and the loss of some sort of food.
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Cite this page:
Ruff, Karen SC. "TheBestNotes on Watership Down".
. 15 May 2008