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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Not at Home, part II - “As my father used to say”


Jun 15 2009, 6:18pm

Views: 417
Not at Home, part II - “As my father used to say” Can't Post

So Thorin goes by Bilbo’s side down the tunnel.
This is the third time Bilbo goes down; but note the differences!
In the first time, the dwarves were excited by finding the secret door, and sure of ultimate success. Thorin gave a long speech, making it clear that Bilbo is to go down the tunnel; Bilbo got cross, but did not refuse.
In the second time, the dwarves were terrified by the advent of the dragon. After a long debate in which they find no method of getting rid of Smaug, Thorin asked Bilbo what he suggested; Bilbo suggested going down the tunnel again.
This time, the dwarves are utterly downcast and despairing. Without any suggestion from Thorin, Bilbo advises going down the tunnel again.
1. In these three short interactions, Tolkien shows us how Bilbo became the true leader of the Quest. How did this happen? Would this have happened if Thorin hadn’t despaired?
“But somehow, just when the dwarves were most despairing, Bilbo felt a strange lightening of the heart, as if a heavy weight has gone from under his waist coat”.
2. What is this weight?

An important thing to notice, is that in all three times, Bilbo invokes his father. The worthy Mr. Bungo Baggins apparantly had a storage of folk-wisdom, which he shared with his only son. “Third time pays for all”, “Every worm has his weak spot” (although not from personal experience), and “While there is life there is hope!” this time, combined with repeating “Third time pays for all”.
3. Are these saying mundane, adventurous, or both? Is the “worm” a parable for business competitors (of which Bungo might have had first-hand experience)? Does the juxtaposition of “Third time pays for all” with “While there is life there is hope” make them more heroic?
Note that the last two phrases are repeated in LotR. I’ve discussed Frodo’s paraphrase of “Third time pays for all” here, and Sam quotes his father (!) as saying “While there is life there is hope”, and typically deflating the sentiment by adding “and need of vittles” (‘Journey to the Cross-roads’).
4. What do you make of the comment being used by the Gaffer? Did he learn it from Bilbo? Was it a common saying aroung Hobbiton? What is the effect of his addition?
5. In general, Bungo seems to have grown over the chapters. In ‘An Unexpected Party’ he seems to reprsent the worst sides of the Hobbit’s bourgeois; he is mentioned in ‘Roast Mutton’, when describing Bilbo’s look in Dwalin’s cloak and hood – What his father Bungo woul have thought of him, I daren’t think. But here he seems to inspire his son in critical moments. Was there more in Bungo that we usually think? Any UUTs or links to fan-fic about his marriage to Belladonna Took are welcome.
6. Note that Bilbo is also mentioned as coining phrases (Escaping from goblins to be eaten by wolves), as well as composing poems on the spot (teasing the spiders), trying to relieve the situation by comedy (Now I know what a piece of bacon feels like...” – probably unsuccessful), trying one-ups against the elves! (Your lullaby would waken a drunken goblin” – but the elves put him back in his place), and the dwarves (And little food to use). Is this verbal virtuosity an inherited one? Is it what led Gandalf to chose Bilbo of all Hobbits? What impact does it have on the readers?

So Bilbo goes down with Thorin beside him and the other dwarves following, and near the bottom Bilbo puts on his ring and goes ahead. No need for the ring! It is utterly dark.
7. Why did Bilbo put the ring on? Can’t the dragon sense him well enough without seeing him?
8. Did Bilbo go ahead alone, or did Thorin go with him?

All of a sudden, Bilbo stumbles and rolls headlong into the hall!
9. Apart from the obvious comic effect – is this a wry comment on Bilbo as a leader? Or a way of putting him back in place? Would Thorin, with his dwarvish sense of tunnels, have fallen down the same way?

Bilbo lies in the dark, with no sign of the dragon’s presence save the worm-stench and the taste of vapour on his tongue. He lies face downwards, hardly daring to breathe. It takes a long time for him to raise his head.
10. The whole place stinks of the dragon twelve days after Smaug has left on his last way (the end of ‘The Gathering of the Clouds’). Is that realistic? After all, I expect Bilbo kept more to the side of the Gate, which is open to the cleansing wind. And for how long should the taste of vapour remain?
In the meanwhile, there is nothing Bilbo can do without a light. That we will discuss tomorrow; but in the meantime - do you have any other comments on the two first pages of this chapter?

"When they came to Bill Ferny's house they saw that the hedge there was tattered and unkempt, and the windows were all boarded up.
'Do you think you killed him with that apple, Sam?' said Pippin.
'I'm not so hopeful, Mr. Pippin,' said Sam."

Ferny is a small fish; a delinquette, and part-time ruffian.
But this week in the Reading Room - a real dragon is NOT AT HOME.
Join us!

Subject User Time
Not at Home, part II - “As my father used to say” sador Send a private message to sador Jun 15 2009, 6:18pm
    Thoughts. Curious Send a private message to Curious Jun 15 2009, 8:08pm
    A few thoughts Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer Jun 15 2009, 8:23pm
        Tit for tat sador Send a private message to sador Jun 16 2009, 5:46am
        Lifting weights dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Jun 17 2009, 1:44am
            I'm not so sure of that sador Send a private message to sador Jun 17 2009, 5:19am
                Okay, dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Jun 17 2009, 10:30am
    we give you an inch, you take a mile... batik Send a private message to batik Jun 16 2009, 2:22am
        At the end of the next chapter sador Send a private message to sador Jun 16 2009, 6:19am
            actually...that was a misread batik Send a private message to batik Jun 16 2009, 1:19pm
    Because Bilbo is the *hero* Beren IV Send a private message to Beren IV Jun 16 2009, 2:28am
        Dragon-smell FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Jun 16 2009, 8:44am
            The "dragon-smell" resonated with me, too Ettelewen Send a private message to Ettelewen Jun 16 2009, 8:13pm
    here goes Twit Send a private message to Twit Jun 16 2009, 9:37am
        I have aired a few suggestions about Bungo and Belladonna sador Send a private message to sador Jun 16 2009, 10:28am
    Bilbo steps up. FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Jun 16 2009, 2:13pm
        Ooh I really like that Twit Send a private message to Twit Jun 16 2009, 7:54pm
    Sayings GaladrielTX Send a private message to GaladrielTX Jun 18 2009, 12:09am
    Not the tunnel again! grammaboodawg Send a private message to grammaboodawg Jun 21 2009, 10:12pm


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