Our Sponsor Sideshow Collectibles Send us News
Lord of the Rings Tolkien
Search Tolkien
Lord of The RingsTheOneRing.net - Forged By And For Fans Of JRR Tolkien
Lord of The Rings Serving Middle-Earth Since The First Age

Lord of the Rings Movie News - J.R.R. Tolkien
Do you enjoy the 100% volunteer, not for profit services of TheOneRing.net?
Consider a donation!

  Main Index   Search Posts   Who's Online   Log in
The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
The Last Stage, part II - "And back again"


Nov 13 2012, 4:02pm

Views: 2395
The Last Stage, part II - "And back again" Can't Post

(Thanks to Magpie's invaluable assistance, I am finally posting)

* * *

The Hobbit is subtitled There and Back Again. Well, now we're back.

As all things come to an end, even this story, a day came at last when they were in sight of the country where Bilbo had been born and bred, where the shapes of the land and of the trees were as well known to him as his hands and toes.

"Even this story" – Heh! Is this interjection for the benefit of a father telling a story to his children?
How well do you know your hands and toes?
In the first chapter we have learned that Bilbo "loved maps, and in his hall there hung a large one of the Country Round with all his favourite walks marked on it in red ink".
Are they back in this territory? How large is it? Sam Gamgge know the country a day's walk from home pretty well. Are they now within a day's walk from Bag-end?

As Bilbo sees his own Hill in the distance (shades of Beorn?), he does the ultimate unexpected thing: he improvises a poem! Even Gandalf acts surprised.

However, Bilbo is in for a greater surprise: he arrives home in the middle of an auction – of his own belongings! Clearly, disappearing for a year is tantamount to dying.
Well, Bilbo is still hobbit-like enough: he is annoyed with people not wiping their feet on the mat, for instance. A few points which strike me in Tolkien's account of this event:
  1. The large notice on the gate. Did Bilbo miss this? Or did he realize what was going on before actually meeting the people? Or must we assume a different path, going across the fields – like Bag-End has in The Lord of the Rings?
  2. Another date – June the twenty-second! Was this exactly a year after leaving Rivendell? Or does it have to do with the beginning of the summer vacations? Did it inspire in any way the future importance of the twenty-second of December?
  3. Messrs. Grubb, Grubb, and Burrowes. Who appointed them? What would they do with the money they received? And what do their names mean?
  4. Sale to commence at ten o'clock sharp - However, Bilbo was nearly late to his eleven o'clock appointment in Bywater (Roast Mutton). Was Bilbo, as an old bachelor, given to sleeping late – even for his countrymen? Does this justify Bofur's slur of "lazybones" (Queer Lodgings)? Once again – does this measurement of time signify a return to the civilized Shire?
  5. …most of the things had already been sold, for various prices from next to nothing to old songs (as is not unusual at auctions). - I love the pharse "to old songs". What does it mean? Did Tolkien coin it? See here.

The Sackville-Bagginses deserve a longer look. As Tom Shippey points out, the name "Sackville" is a frenchified form of "Bag End". From this he jumps to the conclusion that this junior branch of the Baggins family were incessant social climbers, a trait they will develop to horrendous proportions in The Lord of the Rings.
Do you agree? If this social climbing, what shall we say of the late Bungo marrying one of the famous daughters of the Old Took – a mere attraction to her glamour?
Anyway, I do love the name. According to The History of the Hobbit, the original name of Bilbo's scheming cousins was "Allibone-Baggins" – any meaning to that name?
And then, the spoons. Is this likely, for a young couple of social climbers, to steal their cousins silverware? Or is it more likely for a grumpy rich relative to suspect them? in short, do you think Otho and Lobelia guilty or not?

In short Bilbo was "Presumed Dead," and not everybody that said so was sorry
to find the presumption wrong.

Hmm… this sounds familiar. Does this ring any bells?

One last thing, regarding a quote from Flight to the Ford:

… said Merry. 'That must have been the stone that marked the place where the trolls' gold was hidden. How much is left of Bilbo's share, I wonder, Frodo?'
Frodo looked at the stone… 'None at all,' he said. 'Bilbo gave it all away. He told me that he did not feel it was really his, as it came from robbers.'

But surely, Bilbo could use it to buy back his furniture! Wouldn't that be poetic justice?
But is there any indication of Bilbo's scruples in our book? After all, he was hired to steal treasure – and it's not as if Smaug got his hoard honestly! (and had he done so, it would have been infinitely worse) Why did he keep Smaug's treasure (even giving the last of it to Sam for Rosie), but not the trolls'?

* * *

Indeed Bilbo found he had lost more than spoons - he had lost his reputation. It is true that for ever after he remained an elf-friend, and had the honour of dwarves, wizards, and all such folk as ever passed that way; but he was no longer quite respectable.

So now we come at last to the question: What exactly has Bilbo gained from his adventure? Was it worth losing his reputation?

I am sorry to say he did not mind. He was quite content… and though few believed any of his tales, he remained very happy to the end of his days, and those were extraordinarily long.

Is the narrator really sorry? Are we supposed to be?

When pressed for a sequel, Tolkien found this last sentence a liability (Letter 31, to Charles Furth), as he could not find a way of having Bilbo go on another adventure without contradicting it; eventually, he settled down on the adventure happening to Bilbo's heir, with the ending "and he/they lived happily ever after" as a recurring theme, of how tales are supposed to end.
Is it an unsurmountable obsatacle? Or does it leave the opening for further adventures of Bilbo's?

I have omitted the description of how Bilbo disposed of his material gains on purpose, as they belong to a separate thread – and as I wanted to get to the end of this chapter on time.
For this is the end of the chapter, don't you think? The last seven paragraphs are a sort of epilogue, nothing but tying up a few loose ends. No?
Well, unless they contribute something to the understanding of the whole book… but that's for a later thread.

I'll try to post the first of the three thematic threads tomorrow.

"As all things come to an end, even this story..."

Here we read of Bilbo, who is “quiet and drowsy”, that “every now and again he would open one eye” and listen to Gandalf’s tale. Is Tolkien deliberately echoing this passage in LOTR when he writes, “At that Bilbo opened an eye, almost as if he had heard … ‘You see, I am getting so sleepy’, he said.”?
- N.E. Brigand

The weekly discussion of The Hobbit is back. Join us in the Reading Room for The Return Journey!

Subject User Time
The Last Stage, part II - "And back again" sador Send a private message to sador Nov 13 2012, 4:02pm
    A few answers FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Nov 15 2012, 10:53am
        Replying to your answers sador Send a private message to sador Nov 15 2012, 4:21pm
            Replying to your reply and some more answers... FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Nov 18 2012, 5:35pm
                I was hoping to avoid referencing BotR this week! sador Send a private message to sador Nov 19 2012, 9:41am
                    I wish I had more time! telain Send a private message to telain Nov 19 2012, 4:09pm
                        So so I! sador Send a private message to sador Nov 21 2012, 10:04am
                            Ah, solicitors. dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Nov 25 2012, 2:56am
    Counting the silver CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Nov 19 2012, 11:29pm
        Nobody rose to the bait... sador Send a private message to sador Nov 21 2012, 10:39am
            *raises eyebrows high* dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Nov 25 2012, 3:14am
                Well, yes sador Send a private message to sador Nov 25 2012, 9:08am
                    Heirs apparent dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Nov 27 2012, 2:26am


Search for (options) Powered by Gossamer Forum v.1.2.3

home | advertising | contact us | back to top | search news | join list | Content Rating

This site is maintained and updated by fans of The Lord of the Rings, and is in no way affiliated with Tolkien Enterprises or the Tolkien Estate. We in no way claim the artwork displayed to be our own. Copyrights and trademarks for the books, films, articles, and other promotional materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law. Design and original photography however are copyright © 1999-2012 TheOneRing.net. Binary hosting provided by Nexcess.net

Do not follow this link, or your host will be blocked from this site. This is a spider trap.