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

sador
Half-elven

Jun 15 2009, 6:18pm

Post #1 of 19 (433 views)
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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!


Curious
Half-elven


Jun 15 2009, 8:08pm

Post #2 of 19 (132 views)
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Thoughts. [In reply to] 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?

I see it more as one step forward, two steps back. In the first instance Thorin relies on Bilbo but also annoys him. In the second instance Thorin solicits Bilbo's advice. In the third instance Thorin does not order Bilbo to assist or ask for his assistance; Bilbo has to persuade the dwarves to listen to him.

"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?

Maybe, as gramma implied, Bilbo is somehow attuned to the dragon. Or maybe he is attuned to some Higher Power. At any rate, Bilbo seems to know or intuit, based on no evidence, that Smaug is not only gone, but is not coming back. Later, however, Bilbo's gloom will return.

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?

Both.

Is the "worm" a parable for business competitors (of which Bungo might have had first-hand experience)?

Maybe. We don't know much about how Bungo would have used it, except that it likely was not based on personal experience with a dragon.

Does the juxtaposition of "Third time pays for all" with "While there is life there is hope" make them more heroic?

I don't see it.

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?

It's a proverb used by everyone, including the non-adventurous Bungo and the Gaffer.

Did he learn it from Bilbo?

Maybe, but unlikely.

Was it a common saying aroung Hobbiton?

Likely so.

What is the effect of his addition?

Down-to-earth advice typical of the Gaffer.

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.

No, I think that Bungo, like the Gaffer, exhibited common-sense wisdom in these proverbs, but did not exhibit any adventurous spirit. I think there is humor in seeing Bilbo and Sam use their fathers' ordinary wisdom in extraordinary situations their fathers never imagined.


Adding to the irony, in the case of every worm has his weak spot, the saying may have originated ages ago with a story like Turin's, and had lost its original, literal meaning, until Bilbo found himself in a place where the literal meaning was important! Similarly, Bilbo's saying about goblins and wolves will probably be used in a thousand situations not nearly so perilous -- after all, how many of us have really escaped a frying pan only to be consumed by fire?

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?

Maybe on the Took side.

Is it what led Gandalf to chose Bilbo of all Hobbits?

Gandalf detected a hidden poetic side, and that did help.

What impact does it have on the readers?

Bilbo isn't the strong, silent type. I think his language, which is in a modern, down-to-earth idiom, helps us identify with him, as we identified with Sam. Frodo is different, and over time Frodo grows more distant from the reader.

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?

He probably thinks it can't hurt. Actually, it could hurt, if he fell unconscious for some reason, as he discovers at the Battle of Five Armies.

Can’t the dragon sense him well enough without seeing him?

Pretty well, but not perfectly.

8. Did Bilbo go ahead alone, or did Thorin go with him?

I thought Bilbo was alone.

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?

Maybe.

Or a way of putting him back in place?

It certainly helps us feel for him.

Would Thorin, with his dwarvish sense of tunnels, have fallen down the same way?

Maybe. It's very dark, and dwarves are generally clumsier than hobbits.

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?

Yes! Ever come close to a bat cave? Talk about stench!

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?

I imagine it will need a tremendous scouring -- perhaps they will reroute the river through the caverns for a while.

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?

I love the way Tolkien builds up suspense in a chapter where there is very little action.



(This post was edited by Curious on Jun 15 2009, 8:15pm)


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Jun 15 2009, 8:23pm

Post #3 of 19 (133 views)
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A few thoughts [In reply to] Can't Post

1. Bungo. To become a whole person does not mean swapping your erstwhile dominant self for the self that you stuffed in Shadow, but rather to integrate both. Bilbo has realized that he not only needs the Tookish perspective of his adventuresome mother, but also his father's practicality, each balancing the other. To be pragmatic in a dragon's lair requires rather a strange combination of traits, but the synergy works for him quite well. Thanks for pointing out Bungo's influence!

2. Dragon stench. Considering how long the dragon has lived there, and especially that he has a slimy belly to which gemstones cling (and presumably the slime clings to various other things about the place, long after he has gone) I don't find the presence of his smell too surprising at all. Besides, the front of the cavern may be open, but with the last tunnel shut (Smaug stopped up all others long before) there's no cross-ventilation, creating a stagnant bay where foul smells could linger for quite some time.

3. The weight lifted. I think it marks when Smaug dies.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!

(This post was edited by Dreamdeer on Jun 15 2009, 8:27pm)


batik
Tol Eressea


Jun 16 2009, 2:22am

Post #4 of 19 (109 views)
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we give you an inch, you take a mile... [In reply to] Can't Post


1. In these three short interactions, Tolkien shows us how Bilbo became the true leader of the Quest. How did this happen?
A rather chatty executive...Bilbo has planned and executed a couple of strategies before this, of course (drawn off the spiders and filled the barrels with grumpy dwarves). He's even put his ideas out there for others to accept or dismiss. This time (even though his continues to pacify the others a bit) he steps on out there with a *follow me* attitude.
Would this have happened if Thorin hadn’t despaired?
Probably not.

2. What is this weight?
Dreamdeer is probably on the right track here.

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)?
Both--as a lot of other sayings can be both--depends on the situation. I would imagine the "stitch in time" one is pretty applicable for those adventurous souls that jump out of airplanes.

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?
Life/hope; plants/food?? Probably heard it from more folk than just Bilbo. So...OK, it's common.

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?
12 days??? (yes, I got into the story yesterday and read ahead!) Did you really read (or deduce) that or are you just waiting for someone to comment? Is this one of those *glug* things?
anyhoo--4, 8 or 12 days later--yes, Smaug's smell likely lingered long.







Beren IV
Gondor


Jun 16 2009, 2:28am

Post #5 of 19 (111 views)
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Because Bilbo is the *hero* [In reply to] Can't Post

Thorin may be the King (dammit), but Bilbo is the Hero.

It's usually better to be the hero than the king.

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?

More or less the same way one of my friends became leader on a quest. She decided what she needed to do, and started doing it. Everybody else just followed.


2. What is this weight?

Dragon fear? The Dragon isn't down there, so it's magic isn't weighing against him.


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?

Bilbo in this story shows us quite clearly that one can be both mundane and adventurous at the same time. Is Bilbo really any different than when he set out? No, he's just a hobbit. But he realizes what he can do as a hobbit, and is playing his wits to the edge of what he can do. That's where it becomes adventure.


7. Why did Bilbo put the ring on? Can’t the dragon sense him well enough without seeing him?

Apparently not; remember, Smaug was mighty curious about Bilbo when he came in and Smaug smelled him. Smaug still doesn't really know what Bilbo is, just that he's something that he's never seen before, and that he rode a pony.


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?

Yes - we're talking about a Dragon here! And yes, sulfur smells a long time after the volcano has done its job.


The paleobotanist is back!


sador
Half-elven

Jun 16 2009, 5:46am

Post #6 of 19 (98 views)
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Tit for tat [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Thanks for pointing out Bungo's influence!

You're welcome!


In Reply To

The weight lifted. I think it marks when Smaug dies.

Wow, I've never thought of it that way! I was thinking more in terms of Thorin's authority being a burden upon Bilbo, but never as this lind of clairvoyance.
Thank you!

"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!


sador
Half-elven

Jun 16 2009, 6:19am

Post #7 of 19 (97 views)
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At the end of the next chapter [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
It was thus that in eleven days from the ruin of the town the head of their host passed the rock-gates at the end of the lake and came into the desolate lands.

On the twelfth day, Thorin hailed the scouts.
On the morning of the thirteenth, he rejected Bard's demands; after which:

Quote

"The whole place still stinks of dragon," he (Bilbo) grumbled to himself, "and it makes me sick. And cram is beginning simply to stick in my throat."

So I should atually apologise for being careless - perhaps I should have said "thirteen", or "twelve and a half" to be exact, considering that Smaug flew off in the late evening, and Bilbo was grumbling in the morning after the parly. Blush

In Reply To

12 days??? (yes, I got into the story yesterday and read ahead!) Did you really read (or deduce) that or are you just waiting for someone to comment? Is this one of those *glug* things?



"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!


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 16 2009, 8:44am

Post #8 of 19 (101 views)
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Dragon-smell [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
we're talking about a Dragon here! And yes, sulfur smells a long time after the volcano has done its job.



I agree about the dragon-smell - I think it's a smell of hydrogen sulphide and other gases that are produced when volcanic matter escapes from the earth. That's what the "taste of vapour" suggests to me as well.

I don't think the dragon would be "smelly" in the organic sense, somehow. In fact, he seems to be extremely sensitive to other creatures' smells (he recognizes dwarf-smell but is puzzled by hobbit-smell), but there's no mention of the dragon's own smell during Bilbo's interactions with him. All we hear about is the "vapour" that comes out of his mouth, and the "fire and vapour" that pursue Bilbo back up the tunnel so that he is nearly overcome. Hydrogen sulphide could have that effect - and it's interesting that (according to my chemist husband), despite being very unpleasant to smell in small amounts, its real danger is when you don't smell it - that means your sensors are overloaded and you're about to succumb.


So I think the dragon's smell is a combination of years of smoke and perhaps lingering sulphur dioxide and other volcanic gases. Bilbo doesn't seem to register this as a "stink" until he's forced to spend time in the empty chamber - maybe it's a bit like that stale, choking smell you get in an empty room where people have regularly been smoking, but magnified many times over. Even smokers hate that smell.

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled, the sigh and murmur of the Sea
upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



Twit
Lorien

Jun 16 2009, 9:37am

Post #9 of 19 (100 views)
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here goes [In reply to] Can't Post

1. In these three short interactions, Tolkien shows us how Bilbo became the true leader of the Quest. How did this happen?

What else can they do? Bilbo is taking the lead as Thorin is indisposed. And don't forget, Bilbo has already been there - done that and survived.
Would this have happened if Thorin hadn’t despaired?

No. he would have suggested going down the tunnel himself.

“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?

His own despair and fear. He has made a decision and this is a relief to him. sometimes trying to decide what to do is harder than doing what you've chosen to do.

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?

I think they are based in truth from ancient times, that has been watered down and manipulated throught the years. Some are just metaphores I guess (the early bird catches the worm etc)

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?

I would say everyone said this. I say them (well not the worm one obviously!)

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?

If he managed to marry Belladonna Took he must have had something about him.



sador
Half-elven

Jun 16 2009, 10:28am

Post #10 of 19 (109 views)
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I have aired a few suggestions about Bungo and Belladonna [In reply to] Can't Post

Here.

But I haven't noticed back then Bilbo's often invoking his father in this kind of situations - so perhaps my thoughts back then need revaluation.

"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!


batik
Tol Eressea


Jun 16 2009, 1:19pm

Post #11 of 19 (92 views)
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actually...that was a misread [In reply to] Can't Post

of your question on my part. I totally ignored the reference to the "Clouds" chapter and assumed the length of time was referring to how long Bilbo and Co. had been in the tunnel/cave at this point in the story ("..after days and days of waiting...").
batik


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 16 2009, 2:13pm

Post #12 of 19 (109 views)
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Bilbo steps up. [In reply to] Can't Post

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?

We are seeing the difference between a de facto leader, who rules out of tradition, and a true leader who leads quite literally, by being willing to go first into whatever danger lies ahead. I think we're going to see the same dynamic in the next chapter between the Master and Bard. A leader who is ruling through custom and has not had to risk himself may not be up to the job when things get serious. Besides the Master and Bard, we also have Denethor and Aragorn following the same pattern. In each of these cases, the established leader despairs, and the new leader steps into the breach and earns his right to lead by the example of his own courage.

2. What is this weight?

I like the idea that it's the death of Smaug. But it's also, I think, a comment about courage. The weight of dread is lifted once you make up your mind to face up to the danger you have been trying to avoid.

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?

I think they are basically just folk sayings. But Tolkien likes to imagine that there's a weight of half-forgotten knowledge behind folk sayings (like Ioreth's about the kingsfoil in LotR). I think the "worm" meant a dragon in the original saying, and that the saying must have passed through many generations of hobbits without anyone really thinking about the literal meaning at all (like the way we talk about someone having a "chink in their armour", for example, despite the lack of armour in our everyday world). Now that old, old saying has survived until the very moment when its true meaning can come clear again (just like Ioreth's "the hands of a king are the hands of a healer" saying, in fact).

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?

I think this is just because these sayings are commonplace. Tolkien imagines them being passed down from father to son, as if each father is imparting some special wisdom, and the sons seem to treasure them as special paternal wisdom too. Perhaps that's how Tolkien imagines that such sayings may have survived unchanged over the centuries. The Gaffer's addition of "and need of vittles" certainly brings the "where there's life there's hope" down to a practical level! Sam remembers the addition, though, mostly because the lack of vittles is on his mind at that moment. I guess we remember the bits of parental wisdom that seem to apply to the situation we happen to be in. The main thing is not to fall into the error that Arthur Dent makes:

You know," said Arthur, "it's at times like this, when I'm trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was young."
"Why, what did she tell you?"
"I don't know, I didn't listen."

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.

Well, since the Gaffer's "wisdom" inspires Sam in a similar way, I'm not sure there's any need to assume that Bungo had any special qualities beyond the usual fatherly ones of instilling in his son a sense of how the world works. Both Bilbo and Sam have to rise above the limited horizons of their fathers, and yet they still fall back on that comforting bedrock of fatherly wisdom that they received in childhood. I like the ideas about Bungo and Belladonna that other posters have suggested though!

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?

Bilbo is one of Tolkien's Mary-Sues in this respect. After all, Bilbo becomes the author of the story "There and Back Again" on which this tale is based, as well as being a serious translator of all that obscure Elvish history. Bilbo loves language, as we saw in the first chapter, when Gandalf hooked him with his word-play about Bilbo's own bourgeois commonplaces, "Good morning" and "I beg your pardon" (I'm channelling Darkstone's ideas here, from a post in that earlier thread you linked to).

7. Why did Bilbo put the ring on? Can’t the dragon sense him well enough without seeing him?

I guess he puts it on because it gives him a comforting sense of protection, even if he knows logically that the dragon could still get him anyway.

8. Did Bilbo go ahead alone, or did Thorin go with him?

The text says that Bilbo went on ahead once he put the ring on. Perhaps this is another reason Bilbo put on the ring - it allowed the dwarves to save face and wait behind for him, since in principle at least, Bilbo had a level of protection that they didn't have.

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?

Well, we saw Thorin falling flat on his face on Bilbo's mat, and being very annoyed about it! I don't know whether Thorin could have avoided the fall, but he'd probably have gone more carefully to try to preserve his own dignity. And if he had fallen, I doubt whether he would ever have told the others...

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?

I think the story of Smaug is meant to resemble a dragon-myth based on folk tales about volcanic eruptions. So Bilbo and his companions are smelling the vapours and gases that would be associated with that. Some of them are quite poisonous, which would certainly account for the feelings of suffocation and being overcome that Bilbo and the dwarves experience. I'm guessing that the dwarves, as miners of precious metals and gems, try to avoid these kinds of areas as much as possible - although when they do "delve to greedily and too deep" they sometimes run into trouble of this kind, as we see in LotR.



They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled, the sigh and murmur of the Sea
upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



Twit
Lorien

Jun 16 2009, 7:54pm

Post #13 of 19 (87 views)
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Ooh I really like that [In reply to] Can't Post

I forgot that whislt they were in the tunnel, Things were happening.


2. What is this weight?

I like the idea that it's the death of Smaug.





Ettelewen
Lorien

Jun 16 2009, 8:13pm

Post #14 of 19 (87 views)
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The "dragon-smell" resonated with me, too [In reply to] Can't Post

As I just started working for a geothermal-power company. During our safety orientation we were taught the dangers of hydrogen sulphide - as you said, in safe amounts it smells awful, and in higher concentrations you won't smell it and it will kill you. I immediately thought of that when reading this passage, and also when reading of (or watching) Frodo and Sam at the Cracks of Doom.


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 17 2009, 1:44am

Post #15 of 19 (71 views)
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Lifting weights [In reply to] Can't Post

At one time I also thought that Bilbo's "lightening of the heart" corresponded to the death of Smaug.

However, that occurred during the night after he smashed in the Door and headed to Lake-town. At this point, the Dwarves and Bilbo have been in the mountain for nearly "two nights and the day between".

So why the delayed reaction? It reminds me of Frodo's dream of Gandalf imprisoned on Orthanc: that dream was "late in coming".

Maybe delayed empathy is a Baggins trait?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915



sador
Half-elven

Jun 17 2009, 5:19am

Post #16 of 19 (67 views)
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I'm not so sure of that [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
At this point, the Dwarves and Bilbo have been in the mountain for nearly "two nights and the day between".


But that's a spoiler for a up-and-coming discussion. Shocked

"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!


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 17 2009, 10:30am

Post #17 of 19 (70 views)
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Okay, [In reply to] Can't Post

I'll hold the thought!

And at some point, I'll need to bring up an early plot note of Tolkien's wherein, incredibly and anticlimactically, Bilbo actually...but that's for later, too! Wink


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915



GaladrielTX
Tol Eressea


Jun 18 2009, 12:09am

Post #18 of 19 (65 views)
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Sayings [In reply to] Can't Post

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?

It’s the result of Bilbo’s accumulated successes and Thorin’s lack of them.


“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?


I did not notice this sentence. Has the dragon just died?


“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?


I had not noticed the three times Bilbo quotes his father. Thanks for catching that. The adventurousnes of the sayings depend on the circumstances in which someone uses them. I’m pretty sure I’ve used (or have heard used) all three expressions (or variants thereof) in mundane situations, but they work equally well in important ones.


Is the “worm” a parable for business competitors (of which Bungo might have had first-hand experience)?

Shire commerce doesn’t strike me as that cut-throat. It seems like everyone has their head down doing their own thing, not keeping an eye on the competition for weaknesses. I imagine Bilbo’s main source of income is collecting rents, a pursuit which doesn’t seem that aggressively competitive to me. It seems a sort of idealized capitalism, before the advent of the "marketing approach" where companies started focusing on exernals like making their product fit the needs of the customer. All you had to do was build the best mousetrap.


Does the juxtaposition of “Third time pays for all” with “While there is life there is hope” make them more heroic?

I don’t see them as so. Am I missing something?


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?


Typical old-man humor. He probably uses that phrase on every possible occasion.


Did he learn it from Bilbo? Was it a common saying aroung Hobbiton? What is the effect of his addition?

The Gaffer doesn’t seem inventive. He must have heard both the first and second part of the saying from someone else and thought it was hilarious.


5. In general, Bungo seems to have grown over the chapters....Was there more in Bungo that we usually think? Any UUTs or links to fan-fic about his marriage to Belladonna Took are welcome.

A person can be judgmental and still give good advice. He was a father after all, and must have had a sense of responsibility in teaching Bilbo things.


Is this verbal virtuosity an inherited one?

Bilbo does have an imagination and a way with words. I think Bungo was probably more "prosy" and merely passed on traditional wisdom, so no, I don’t think it’s inherited.


6. Is it what led Gandalf to chose Bilbo of all Hobbits?

An imaginative mind is just want Gandalf is looking for and cultivating in his victim/choice of burglar.


What impact does it have on the readers?

I suppose it’s clever. Sayings are also a good way to help remember things, something child readers might find useful.


7. Why did Bilbo put the ring on? Can’t the dragon sense him well enough without seeing him?

For all he knows, the Dragon could be hiding and suddenly light up. Also, maybe Smaug could see in the dark.


8. Did Bilbo go ahead alone, or did Thorin go with him?

I thought he went on alone, but I don’t have the book with me.


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?

I thought it was just two nights and a day, but I don’t have the book with me.


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?

I have a poor sense of smell (no, it's not the fault of Zicam!) so I’m not the best person to answer here. I do remember when shopping for our house, UT and I visited several homes with a lingering smell of cigarette smoke. I asked our realtor how long it would take for the smell to dissipate, and she shook her head and replied that that kind of thing takes forever to go away. That’s just smoke. If you add in the animal reek of the dragon I imagine it would take even longer to abate.

~~~~~~~~

The TORNsib formerly known as Galadriel.



(This post was edited by GaladrielTX on Jun 18 2009, 12:10am)


grammaboodawg
Immortal


Jun 21 2009, 10:12pm

Post #19 of 19 (65 views)
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Not the tunnel again! [In reply to] Can't Post

Poor Bilbo. I think the relief he's feeling when the dwarves are despairing is because he's free to just deal with the situation. He knows very well by now when the dwarves are of no use and he'd may as well take the situation and go with it simply to get it over with.



Quote
Why did Bilbo put the ring on?



While Smaug can smell and hear Bilbo, our hobbit does have a small advantage since Smaug still can't see him. It's also helps Bilbo's confidence. You use every tool you can when you feel like you're up against a stronger foe.



sample

"There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West."
~Hug like a hobbit!~ "In my heaven..."

I really need these new films to take me back to, and not re-introduce me to, that magical world.



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