Watership Down is not a sweet fable about bunnies; it's a tale in which characters die or become injured, and these facts of life are not sugar-coated. Adams said of his writing style, "I derived early the idea that one must at all costs tell the truth to children, not so much about mere physical pain and fear, but about the really unanswerable things—what [writer] Thomas Hardy called 'the essential grimness of the human situation."
- Setting: the Hampshire district in central England, where the author still lives
- Protagonist: Hazel, leader of the rabbits who looks for a safe home
- Antagonist: enemies of the rabbits, including humans
- Conflict: overcoming differences and developing a sense of trust that will enable the rabbits to create a successful civilization.
- Themes touch upon loyalty, trust, friendship, courage, acceptance, brain vs. brawn, and the ideal society