I read this when I was about 10 and, honestly, cannot remember anything triumphant about it. What I most remember is the animal experimentation/torture! (DID the rabbits ever escape completely?)
Today in my office, an editor had her 12-year-old daughter in, who was reading "Watership Down." Another editor came to visit and commented on how mature the girl was for reading such a book at that age. The 2nd editor expounded (though admitting in the meantime that she'd never gotten beyond the first third of the book): "I liked it because the rabbits weren't thinking like people, they were just rabbits and thought exactly like rabbits." (Huh? Of course the book was anthropomorphized! How could it obviously NOT be?)
The 2nd editor talked and talked and talked about the book (saying NOTHING) and then ended with this to the 12-year-old girl: "I'm so happy that you're reading this! And maybe once you finish reading, one day you'll decide to grow up and become a rabbit."
HUH??? WHAT???? And the woman was serious. I thought I was going mad listening to the whole stupid conversation. Until the woman left, and then the girl said to her mother: "What was she TALKING about? I don't think she really read the book. She wants me to grow up and become a RABBIT?!"
Thanks, kid! :)