Many human beings say that they enjoy winter, but what they really enjoy is feeling proof against it. For them there is no winter food problem. They have fires and warm clothes. The winter cannot hurt them and therefore increases their sense of cleverness and security. For birds and animals, as for poor men, winter is another matter. Rabbits, like most wild animals, suffer hardship.
—Watership Down, April 1975 (paperback) page 465
“Oh, Hazel,” said Blackberry, coming up to him round a puddle in the gravel. “I was so tired and confused, I actually began to wonder whether you knew where you were going. I could hear you in the heather, saying ‘Not far now’ and it was annoying me. I thought you were making it up. I should have known better. Frithrah, you’re what I call a Chief Rabbit!”
—Watership Down, April 1975 (paperback) page 64
I usually skip stories involving animals. It’s not that I hate animal stories; I actually love them, both young and mature. What makes me despise reading them is that in most animal stories, an animal dies (the protagonist, usually). And when it does, I can’t help but feel sad and grieve over the death of the animal. Even in normal human stories where the humans have pets, I would feel bad if the pet of one of the human characters dies. Animal death really affects me in a radical way.