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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Not at Home, part III - “Come on... Light my Fire”
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sador
Half-elven

Jun 16 2009, 8:28am

Post #1 of 77 (438 views)
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Not at Home, part III - “Come on... Light my Fire” Can't Post

There he lay face downwards on the floor and did not dare to get up, or hardly even to breath. But nothing moved. There was not a gleam of light – unless, as it had seemed to him, when at last he slowly raised his head, there was a pale white glint, above him and far off in the gloom. But certainly it was not a spark of dragon-fire...
At length, Mr. Baggins could bear it no longer. “Confound you, Smaug, you worm!” he squeaked aloud. “Stop playing hide-and-seek! Give me a light, and then eat me, if you can catch me!”
1. What is this white light? Yes, I know Tolkien will answer this riddle in a couple of pages – but is it something you would get immediately? Or remember and connect on re-reading?
2. How does this light affect Bilbo? It does not seem to fascinate him yet, or draw him on – in fact he should go towards it, as this is clearly the way ahead, and it also is the way towards the light. Does it repel him? Induce him to reveal himself?
3. In the goblins’ tunnels, we have noted three sources of light: Gandalf’s wand, the elvish blades, and Gollum’s eyes. How does this light compare to them?
4. Does Bilbo really think Smaug is playing a game – or is he just dizzy?
So Bilbo asks for light.

The dwarves, of course, were very alarmed when Bilbo fell forward down the step with a bump into the hall, and they sat huddled just where he had left them at the end of the tunnel.
“Sh! sh!” they hissed, when they heard his voice... In the end, when Bilbo actually began to stamp on the floor, and screamed out ‘light’ at the top of his shrill voice, Thorin gave way...
5. O! So there was a step! Couldn’t Bilbo notice it? Why didn’t he? Did the darkness dull his other senses – or perhaps the stench?
6. Why do the dwarves sit and wait for developements? What would you do in their stead?
7. Did the dwarves hear Bilbo’s challange to Smaug before? If not, why not?
8. Can’t Bilbo convince them of the need for light? Might he have done so if he had gone to speak to them? Or is he simply having a fit? In fact, does his behaviour here justify Gloin’s harsh judgement of him in the first chapter?

Well, at last Gloin himself goes with Oin to bring a light, and I suppose it doesn’t mean anything that he didn’t light a torch himself. Bilbo trots to the door an takes the torch, but still goes alone.
As Thorin carefully explained, Mr. Baggins was still officially their expert burglar and investigator. If he liked to risk a light, that was his own affair. They would sit in the tunnel for his report.
9. Has Thorin recovered his old pompousness, or is he simply afraid? Or maybe there is a point in this keeping with the rules of ceremony?
10. Don’t you find the “officially” amusing? Would a kid? What does it serve – as an excuse for Thorin’s letting Bilbo have a light, or for the dwarves not to join him?
11. One would think that the light would enhearten the dwarves, and make them bolder. Why doesn’t it?

So they sat near the door and watched.
12. Um... could they? When did Bilbo take off the ring?
Next time we will investigate the light inside Smaug’s bedroom.




"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!

(This post was edited by sador on Jun 16 2009, 8:30am)


Curious
Half-elven


Jun 16 2009, 5:12pm

Post #2 of 77 (172 views)
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Thoughts. [In reply to] Can't Post

There he lay face downwards on the floor and did not dare to get up, or hardly even to breath. But nothing moved. There was not a gleam of light – unless, as it had seemed to him, when at last he slowly raised his head, there was a pale white glint, above him and far off in the gloom. But certainly it was not a spark of dragon-fire...
At length, Mr. Baggins could bear it no longer. "Confound you, Smaug, you worm!" he squeaked aloud. "Stop playing hide-and-seek! Give me a light, and then eat me, if you can catch me!"
1. What is this white light? Yes, I know Tolkien will answer this riddle in a couple of pages – but is it something you would get immediately?

No.

Or remember and connect on re-reading?

On re-reading, maybe, but probably not on the first reading -- although I don't remember my first reading.

2. How does this light affect Bilbo?

At this point, it doesn't. He's looking for a dragon. But he'll come back to it later.

It does not seem to fascinate him yet, or draw him on – in fact he should go towards it, as this is clearly the way ahead, and it also is the way towards the light. Does it repel him?

No.

Induce him to reveal himself?

No.

3. In the goblins’ tunnels, we have noted three sources of light: Gandalf’s wand, the elvish blades, and Gollum’s eyes. How does this light compare to them?

It appears to be a very faint, pale light, only apparent when Bilbo, with the best eyes in the party, is trying to see in the dark. I don't remember the specific descriptions of the other lights, and I'm too lazy to look them up. But I think this light may be fainter and paler and harder to see, especially since it is not moving. Also the words "glint" and "spark" imply that it is a dot of light, like a faint star in the night sky. Considering how dark the cavern must be, the light would have to be very faint and pale, or else it would stand out like a beacon. Even a burning match throws shadows in pitch darkness, and this glint does not seem to throw shadows.

4. Does Bilbo really think Smaug is playing a game – or is he just dizzy?

He doesn't know.

So Bilbo asks for light.
The dwarves, of course, were very alarmed when Bilbo fell forward down the step with a bump into the hall, and they sat huddled just where he had left them at the end of the tunnel.
"Sh! sh!" they hissed, when they heard his voice... In the end, when Bilbo actually began to stamp on the floor, and screamed out ‘light’ at the top of his shrill voice, Thorin gave way...
5. O! So there was a step! Couldn’t Bilbo notice it? Why didn’t he? Did the darkness dull his other senses – or perhaps the stench?

This is quite realistic. I think we have all had the experience of encountering an unexpected step or curb and failing to react in time. It happens because the base of the spinal cord is a long way from the foot, and there is a delayed reaction when the foot encounters a short step that the brain does not anticipate.

6. Why do the dwarves sit and wait for developements?

They're scared.

What would you do in their stead?

I don't know.

7. Did the dwarves hear Bilbo’s challange to Smaug before?

They heard him speaking, and wanted him to be quite. I'm not sure if they listened to what he was saying.

If not, why not?

They're scared.

8. Can’t Bilbo convince them of the need for light?

First he has to convince them of the need for speech.

Might he have done so if he had gone to speak to them?

Yes, but does he know which direction to go?

Or is he simply having a fit?

He does seem a bit tempermental here, perhaps cross about falling and about the reluctance of the dwarves to follow him.

In fact, does his behaviour here justify Gloin’s harsh judgement of him in the first chapter?

No, not at all. On the contrary, the positions are reversed -- Bilbo is much braver than the dwarves.

Well, at last Gloin himself goes with Oin to bring a light, and I suppose it doesn’t mean anything that he didn’t light a torch himself. Bilbo trots to the door an takes the torch, but still goes alone.
As Thorin carefully explained, Mr. Baggins was still officially their expert burglar and investigator. If he liked to risk a light, that was his own affair. They would sit in the tunnel for his report.
9. Has Thorin recovered his old pompousness,

Yes.

or is he simply afraid?

Maybe more cautious than cowardly. Thorin seems brave when the situation calls for fighting, but quite cautious when it calls for scouting. He's repeatedly called on Bilbo to go first, and if not Bilbo then Fili and Kili. Perhaps he knows his limitations as a scout.

Or maybe there is a point in this keeping with the rules of ceremony?

There's a point in designating one person to scout ahead.

10. Don’t you find the "officially" amusing?

Yes.

Would a kid?

I don't know.

What does it serve – as an excuse for Thorin’s letting Bilbo have a light, or for the dwarves not to join him?

Both, but mostly as a reason for the dwarves to stay in the tunnel while Bilbo explores.

11. One would think that the light would enhearten the dwarves, and make them bolder. Why doesn’t it?

They don't know Smaug is dead.

So they sat near the door and watched.
12. Um... could they? When did Bilbo take off the ring?

Good point! But I think when he took the torch, it is implied that he first took off his ring. Even if he then put it back on, the dwarves could follow the torch.



(This post was edited by Curious on Jun 16 2009, 5:13pm)


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 16 2009, 9:04pm

Post #3 of 77 (149 views)
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Bilbo fails to step down. [In reply to] Can't Post

1. What is this white light? Yes, I know Tolkien will answer this riddle in a couple of pages – but is it something you would get immediately? Or remember and connect on re-reading?

My first thought was that it was a tiny chink of daylight. I don't think I'd ever thought to go back and reassess it later. In fact, it's not certain that Bilbo really sees anything at all - maybe it was a trick of his eyes in the darkness: "There was not a gleam of light—unless, as it seemed to him, ... there was a pale white glint..."

2. How does this light affect Bilbo? It does not seem to fascinate him yet, or draw him on – in fact he should go towards it, as this is clearly the way ahead, and it also is the way towards the light. Does it repel him? Induce him to reveal himself?

It's just a thought he has in passing, maybe based on nothing at all. I'd say that it's only in retrospect that he thinks of this tiny gleam that he may have seen, and links it to the Arkenstone. At the moment, all his conscious thoughts are on the dragon.

3. In the goblins’ tunnels, we have noted three sources of light: Gandalf’s wand, the elvish blades, and Gollum’s eyes. How does this light compare to them?

This one is much more subtle, at least at this moment. I don't think there are any more references to the Arkenstone shining with its own light, as opposed to its wonderful ability to reflect and refract it, and this reference is quite ambiguous.

4. Does Bilbo really think Smaug is playing a game – or is he just dizzy?

He's just using "light words", I suppose, as hobbits like to do when they are in a tight spot. But he's also disorientated and maybe literally dizzy from the vapours that he's breathing.

5. O! So there was a step! Couldn’t Bilbo notice it? Why didn’t he? Did the darkness dull his other senses – or perhaps the stench?

It was pitch dark so he couldn't really be expected to notice the step. I wonder why he didn't remember it from his other two visits? Maybe he was too busy concentrating on other things at the time, and since there was dragon-light the other two times, he could have negotiated the step without being consciously aware of it. We aren't told about the step though - in fact, on Bilbo's previous visit it sounds as if the entrance is level: "He was just about to step out on to the floor ... Hurriedly Bilbo stepped back." No mention of stepping down onto the floor.

6. Why do the dwarves sit and wait for developements? What would you do in their stead?

It's more logical to wait and let the expert "burglar" do what he's (supposedly) good at. I'm not sure sitting and waiting for things to happen could have been very pleasant in itself. I don't know what I'd have done - but in the pitch dark, before Bilbo has established that it's safe to light a torch, I'm not sure there's much anyone else could have done.

7. Did the dwarves hear Bilbo’s challange to Smaug before? If not, why not?

I think it's hearing him shouting his challenge that makes them go "Sh! sh!"

8. Can’t Bilbo convince them of the need for light? Might he have done so if he had gone to speak to them? Or is he simply having a fit? In fact, does his behaviour here justify Gloin’s harsh judgement of him in the first chapter?

It seems to be the dwarves who are having a fit of inertia. The dwarves "sat huddled" outside the door, and hearing Bilbo's voice challenging the dragon seems to have struck so much fear into them that after their shushing "it was some time before he could get anything else out of them." He's having to shout and stamp his feet to get any reaction at all. I'm afraid I see all the harsh judgements going against the dwarves at this point.

9. Has Thorin recovered his old pompousness, or is he simply afraid? Or maybe there is a point in this keeping with the rules of ceremony?

I'd call this saving face. He's trying to keep this on the level of business, to avoid taking any responsibility himself.

10. Don’t you find the “officially” amusing? Would a kid?

I find the "officially" rather telling - the dwarves love to have everything done according to rules and agreements, rather than following their impulses. Luckily Bilbo is quite the opposite, otherwise I suppose they could all have sat there all day arguing the finer points of Bilbo's contract...

It doesn't sound like something a child reader would relate to - but I can imagine Tolkien himself being exasperated by this kind of thinking. I think a child would find the general pomposity quite funny and understandable though.

What does it serve – as an excuse for Thorin’s letting Bilbo have a light, or for the dwarves not to join him?

Again, I think it's about saving face. Thorin doesn't want to admit that he only gave way about the light because Bilbo browbeat him into it. And he's not prepared either to take any responsibility for the outcome, or to get involved himself. At this point, Thorin comes across as a hopeless, hollow leader - protecting his own position with fatuous pronouncements. The other dwarves may not see through him, but it's pretty clear that the reader is expected to.

11. One would think that the light would enhearten the dwarves, and make them bolder. Why doesn’t it?

It seems surprising that they don't want to light the other torches at least. I'd certainly want to see what was going on. But it seems they'd rather stay in hiding at this point and don't want to come out into the light at all. Being in the light does make you much more vulnerable, I suppose. At least Bilbo has the ring to keep him hidden, the dwarves only have the darkness.

So they sat near the door and watched.
12. Um... could they? When did Bilbo take off the ring?


"They saw the little dark shape of the hobbit..." Since Bilbo still casts a shadow even with the ring on, perhaps that's all they can see. Anyway, it seems that it's mostly the light of the torch that's visible as Bilbo explores. Still, he must take the ring off at some point, since it's obvious later that he's visible, but as far as I can see we are never told when.

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



Curious
Half-elven


Jun 16 2009, 9:11pm

Post #4 of 77 (140 views)
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Bilbo may be impulsive now, but was he originally? [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
I find the "officially" rather telling - the dwarves love to have everything done according to rules and agreements, rather than following their impulses. Luckily Bilbo is quite the opposite, otherwise I suppose they could all have sat there all day arguing the finer points of Bilbo's contract...


I would say that Bilbo has learned to trust his impulses and intuitions and go with them, but that is very different from how he acted when we first met him.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 16 2009, 9:43pm

Post #5 of 77 (143 views)
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Yes and no. [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
I would say that Bilbo has learned to trust his impulses and intuitions and go with them, but that is very different from how he acted when we first met him.



That is, he has learned to trust his impulses now, and is gaining confidence in them. But he always was impulsive, wasn't he? Otherwise he wouldn't have been on the trip at all. Maybe Gandalf did need to give him that last little nudge out of the door, but Bilbo had already let his impulses lead him much further than his Baggins side would ever have believed...

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



Curious
Half-elven


Jun 17 2009, 12:43am

Post #6 of 77 (130 views)
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Sure, the poetic "Took" side was always there. [In reply to] Can't Post

But before Gandalf came along, it was suffocating. And Bilbo deeply regretted his impulses at least until he managed to escape the goblins.


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 17 2009, 2:23am

Post #7 of 77 (130 views)
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Steal away [In reply to] Can't Post

It's too bad that Tolkien changed what would have been an amusing "suggestive" word. The phrase "start across the floor" was originally "steal across the floor".

He's singed on heel and head, he's faced a dragon's wrath, he's been sitting in the dark for a day and a half with a bunch of despairing Dwarves, he's tripped and fallen, it's smelly and dark - dang it, Dragon, come after me while I'm in such a foul mood, at this point I'm ready for you!

And Thorin's pomposity does once again remind the kids listening, that Bilbo is the true star of this show.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"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



Twit
Lorien

Jun 17 2009, 11:09am

Post #8 of 77 (122 views)
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here goes [In reply to] Can't Post

1. What is this white light? Yes, I know Tolkien will answer this riddle in a couple of pages – but is it something you would get immediately? Or remember and connect on re-reading?

I didn't know what this light was, other than a possible way out.

2. How does this light affect Bilbo? It does not seem to fascinate him yet, or draw him on – in fact he should go towards it, as this is clearly the way ahead, and it also is the way towards the light. Does it repel him? Induce him to reveal himself?

It reminds me of the light Galadriel gives Frodo.
We have been pointed in the right direction, along with Bilbo, but it's something to keep for later.

3. In the goblins’ tunnels, we have noted three sources of light: Gandalf’s wand, the elvish blades, and Gollum’s eyes. How does this light compare to them?

It gives Bilbo and us a reason to be wary, it could be good or bad.

4. Does Bilbo really think Smaug is playing a game – or is he just dizzy?

I don't think he knows what to think, he's confused, scared and dizzy. He knows deep down that if the dragon really was home there would be light, so he's just blustering about feeling a bit foolish; actually him squeaking aloud implies it is similar to him thinking aloud.

5. O! So there was a step! Couldn’t Bilbo notice it? Why didn’t he? Did the darkness dull his other senses – or perhaps the stench?

Had been that far before? In the pitch black, having just fallen why would he have seen it. I don't know why it might be important. (Awaits an explanation.)

6. Why do the dwarves sit and wait for developements? What would you do in their stead?

They can't go on knowing Bilbo has fallen, how far they don't know. They can't see, what else can they do?

7. Did the dwarves hear Bilbo’s challange to Smaug before? If not, why not?

Maybe. I can see why they might not if Bilbo had to shout for light to be heard, but then if it's silent and dark, you should be able to hear better. Hmm I'll stay on the fence over this.

8. Can’t Bilbo convince them of the need for light? Might he have done so if he had gone to speak to them? Or is he simply having a fit? In fact, does his behaviour here justify Gloin’s harsh judgement of him in the first chapter?

He's irritated and they need light. So he has a tantrum.


9. Has Thorin recovered his old pompousness, or is he simply afraid? Or maybe there is a point in this keeping with the rules of ceremony?

I think he is afraid and I think he believes it is Bilbo's job and he's happy to sit back and wait.

10. Don’t you find the “officially” amusing? Would a kid? What does it serve – as an excuse for Thorin’s letting Bilbo have a light, or for the dwarves not to join him?

It is a wry comment that we as adults share with the narrator. It serves for the Dwarves to stay put and let Bilbo do his job.

11. One would think that the light would enhearten the dwarves, and make them bolder. Why doesn’t it?

They are big girls blouses. Thorin hasn't given the order and they are wary, so are happy to let things lie.


So they sat near the door and watched.
12. Um... could they? When did Bilbo take off the ring?

I supposed he took off the ring when he realised there was no point in wearing it, it being so dark.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 17 2009, 12:31pm

Post #9 of 77 (122 views)
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Yes but [In reply to] Can't Post

I was responding to your objection to my comment that Bilbo is naturally impulsive. I didn't say anything about whether or not Bilbo regretted his impulses - in fact, it's in the nature of impulsiveness that one often does regret it later! And I agree that it was Gandalf who released Bilbo's hidden impulsive nature (I almost added a sentence about that in my original post, but decided I'd gone on long enough...)

However, perhaps you'll agree that it was through impulse and not sober business-sense that Bilbo went on the quest in the first place. He never, even at the start, cared about the terms and conditions of his so-called contract. He volunteered on an impulse, because he didn't like being taken for a "funny little fellow bobbing on the mat". And the next morning, too, despite his Baggins side breathing a sigh of relief, his Took side was still feeling the impulse to go on an adventure - an impulse that Gandalf capitalised on.

Only on the dwarves' side is this about a contract for services rendered. On Bilbo's side it's all about rising to challenges, and so it was right from the start. That was my original point - despite Thorin's insistence on the terms of the "contract", Bilbo actually doesn't care about any of that. He just does what he feels needs to be done. In the end, of course, the finer points of the contract will come into play, and not to Thorin's advantage!

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



Curious
Half-elven


Jun 17 2009, 2:12pm

Post #10 of 77 (154 views)
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When we first met him, we learned that people considered Bilbo [In reply to] Can't Post

"very respectable, not only because most of them were rich, but also because they never had any adventures or did anything unexpected." That doesn't sound like someone who has followed his impulses. Everything changed after Gandalf came along.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 17 2009, 3:11pm

Post #11 of 77 (149 views)
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Ah but... [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
"very respectable, not only because most of them were rich, but also because they never had any adventures or did anything unexpected."



....that's the stereotypical Baggins, not the individual Bilbo Baggins. And as we know, Tolkien loves to set up stereotypes so that he can explode them. Gandalf at least was never fooled by the stereotype:

"Somehow I had been attracted by Bilbo long before, as a child, and a young hobbit: he had not quite come of age when I had last seen him. He had stayed in my mind ever since, with his eagerness and his bright eyes, and his love of tales, and his questions about the wide world outside the Shire." (The Quest of Erebor, in Unfinished Tales)

Gandalf goes on to say that Bilbo had changed - no doubt the expectations of those around him had made him more conformist by the time The Hobbit begins. But Gandalf saw that Bilbo's impulsive, adventurous side wasn't completely dead, even if it had "dwindled down to a sort of private dream." So Gandalf doesn't change Bilbo's nature, he just sees it for what it is, beneath its veneer of bourgeois respectability.

The next paragraph is interesting too, for another reason - it shows just how much those "cultural stereotypes" are a product of one's own cultural expectations. And it shows, incidentally, that (at least by the time he wrote this passage) Tolkien imagined his story being told from the viewpoint of Bilbo, and therefore as reflecting Bilbo's own prejudices:

"But you know how things went, at any rate as Bilbo saw them. The story would sound rather different if I had written it. For one thing he did not realize at all how fatuous the Dwarves thought him, nor how angry they were with me. Thorin was much more indignant and contemptuous than he perceived."

Interesting to think that Thorin might not be the pompous ass that he sometimes seems to be in The Hobbit. That, it seems, is just Bilbo's point of view. In fact, if we believe Gandalf, it may be that Thorin was trying to treat Bilbo with a courtesy he didn't actually think the hobbit deserved!

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



Curious
Half-elven


Jun 17 2009, 4:01pm

Post #12 of 77 (117 views)
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Bilbo did not have any previous adventures, did he? [In reply to] Can't Post


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But Gandalf saw that Bilbo's impulsive, adventurous side wasn't completely dead, even if it had "dwindled down to a sort of private dream."


Precisely my point.



Dreamdeer
Valinor


Jun 17 2009, 4:08pm

Post #13 of 77 (111 views)
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A few thoughts [In reply to] Can't Post

Light: I didn't know what the light was at first reading, but I eagerly awaited finding out!

Thorin: However exasperating, he's right. He has already shown his propensity for knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each member of the party and employing them accordingly. The sole reason he agreed to take Bilbo along at all is because hobbits are better at stealth than dwarves. He employed him, in fact, for this very hour.

(So imagine his chagrin when the stealthy hobbit starts shouting!)

Shouting: On the other hand, from Bilbo's perspective, he has every reason to shout. He has clearly established that the dragon is gone, he has no need of stealth, and he does have a very pressing need for light before he injures himself in the dark any further than the bruises he has already incurred. And the dwarves seem paralyzed and apparently need shouting at. It seems that shouting and stamping was a last resort that they drove him to.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 17 2009, 4:11pm

Post #14 of 77 (111 views)
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That may be your point. [In reply to] Can't Post

But it wasn't mine. Whether Bilbo's impulsiveness had ever been acted on or not, it was latent within him. That's all I was saying. (In fact, in that passage I quoted from The Quest of Erebor, Gandalf also mentions Bilbo's reputed "queerness" in talking to Dwarves and other strangers, and going out at night looking for Elves, so he appears to have had a taste at least for minor adventures all his life.)

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



Curious
Half-elven


Jun 17 2009, 4:37pm

Post #15 of 77 (129 views)
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Your original remark, [In reply to] Can't Post

to which I responded, was:

Quote
I find the "officially" rather telling - the dwarves love to have everything done according to rules and agreements, rather than following their impulses. Luckily Bilbo is quite the opposite, otherwise I suppose they could all have sat there all day arguing the finer points of Bilbo's contract...


There's nothing in there about "latent." I was simply noting that Bilbo has changed, and has learned to trust his impulses, although I agree that the impulsive side was there within him, as a "private dream," from the beginning.


(This post was edited by Curious on Jun 17 2009, 4:41pm)


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 17 2009, 8:50pm

Post #16 of 77 (100 views)
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Then we agreed all along! [In reply to] Can't Post

Smile
But I enjoyed our exchange - thanks in particular for giving me the impetus to look for that account from the Quest of Erebor, which I hadn't read for years.

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



Curious
Half-elven


Jun 17 2009, 9:04pm

Post #17 of 77 (96 views)
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I always like reaching agreement.// [In reply to] Can't Post

 


squire
Valinor


Jun 17 2009, 10:11pm

Post #18 of 77 (117 views)
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The re-Quest of Erebor [In reply to] Can't Post

Remember that that account of Bilbo's adventurous childhood spirit was written many years after The Hobbit. It serves mostly to fit Bilbo into a kind of Frodo-mode, in keeping with Tolkien's later desire to make The Hobbit into a thematically consistent prequel to The Lord of the Rings. We have discussed in the past how the passage subverts the very point of The Hobbit, by making Bilbo just another adventurous hero, so that the Unexpected Party becomes "expected".

As Curious points out, the narrator of The Hobbit is explicitly talking about Bilbo when introducing him in terms of his Baggins family traits. We are meant to understand that it is Bilbo who answers questions exactly as expected. He is meant to be stereotypical, not individual, so that there will be humor and contrast in his book-length development of an individual personality. That is the typical Tolkien "explosion" you refer to, but it is far more effective because it comes from the same person, not from the odd fellow who was never like the others from the very beginning (Frodo, for instance).
Still it is probable that Bilbo, her only son, although he looked and behaved exactly like a second edition of his solid and comfortable father, got something a bit queer in his makeup from the Took side, something that only waited for a chance to come out. The chance never arrived, until Bilbo Baggins was grown up, being about fifty years old or so, and living in the beautiful hobbit-hole built by his father, which I have just described for you, until he had in fact apparently settled down immovably.
Clearly here Bilbo has never done anything unexpected: "The chance never arrived". There is no "eagerness and bright eyes", no "private dreams" by intent or implication. The point is that he had an unrealized capacity, because of his Took ancestry - a capacity that no other Baggins ever had at all. Never, in The Hobbit itself as opposed to the Unfinished Tales rewrite, are we to suppose that Bilbo in growing up had "changed" or become a "conformist" due to social pressure. The very idea "spoils the joke".



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


Curious
Half-elven


Jun 17 2009, 10:25pm

Post #19 of 77 (109 views)
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I wouldn't go that far. [In reply to] Can't Post

The chance never arrived, and Bilbo had behaved like his father, but Bilbo does reveal his "private dreams," I suggest, when he gets all excited about childhood memories of Gandalf, before he gets ahold of himself. The narrator comments that "Mr. Baggins was not quite so prosy as he liked to believe," and Bilbo concludes "'Bless me, life used to be quite inter-- I mean, you used to upset things badly in these parts once upon a time.'" I think that does imply that Bilbo has private dreams, and has conformed to social pressure.


GaladrielTX
Tol Eressea


Jun 18 2009, 12:34am

Post #20 of 77 (105 views)
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Light [In reply to] Can't Post

2. How does this light affect Bilbo? It does not seem to fascinate him yet, or draw him on – in fact he should go towards it, as this is clearly the way ahead, and it also is the way towards the light. Does it repel him? Induce him to reveal himself?

I think he’s curious.


3. In the goblins’ tunnels, we have noted three sources of light: Gandalf’s wand, the elvish blades, and Gollum’s eyes. How does this light compare to them?

I imagine the other things glow. The Arkenstone sparkles with many colors.


4. So Bilbo asks for light.

I wonder if the Arkenstone emits enough light to see one’s way. Not that Bilbo would chance revealing it to the Dwarves.


6. Why do the dwarves sit and wait for developments? What would you do in their stead?

I guess they didn’t see enough reason to go in when one person would do for a scout.


7. Did the dwarves hear Bilbo’s challenge to Smaug before? If not, why not?

They must have. The rooms seems silent otherwise so I can’t imagine anything that would drown out his voice.


8. Can’t Bilbo convince them of the need for light?

They’re unwilling to risk it until the chance of their getting discovered because of Bilbo’s yelling makes it a moot point.


Might he have done so if he had gone to speak to them?

They’d talk him out of it, saying light could draw unwanted attention.


Or is he simply having a fit?

I don’t think he’s having a seizure. He’s just angry.


In fact, does his behavior here justify Gloin’s harsh judgment of him in the first chapter?

Gloin thinks Bilbo’s fit is something Bilbo can’t control. In this case, Bilbo is intentionally yelling so no.


9. Has Thorin recovered his old pompousness, or is he simply afraid? Or maybe there is a point in this keeping with the rules of ceremony?

He’s cautious, sending Bilbo on as a scout. He sees no need to endanger everyone. If the dragon comes back maybe he’ll only notice Bilbo. Regarding the rules of the ceremony, as the Burglar, Bilbo has this responsibility.


10. Don’t you find the “officially” amusing? Would a kid?

No, why? Am I missing out on a joke?


What does it serve – as an excuse for Thorin’s letting Bilbo have a light, or for the dwarves not to join him?

For the dwarves not to join him. Thorin believes it’s part of the responsibility Bilbo has taken on as the Burglar.


11. One would think that the light would enhearten the dwarves, and make them bolder. Why doesn’t it?

It could draw attention.


So they sat near the door and watched.

12. Um... could they? When did Bilbo take off the ring?


I wondered this, too. Maybe they’re just watching to see what they can see, and to keep an eye out for Smaug.

~~~~~~~~

The TORNsib formerly known as Galadriel.



sador
Half-elven

Jun 18 2009, 2:09am

Post #21 of 77 (85 views)
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A few comments on your answers [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I didn't know what this light was, other than a possible way out.

Actually, that was what I was wondering about. Bilbo first saw the light while wondering about directions, and it should have been at least an indication!
However, considering the fact that he is dizzy, and after a fall, and that the light is faint - he might feel he was only imagining it.
I had a peep at the discussions of 2004, and some thought back then that it might have been a spiritual light! But Tolkien tells us in a couple of pages, that it comes from the Arkenstone.


In Reply To
Had been that far before? In the pitch black, having just fallen why would he have seen it. I don't know why it might be important. (Awaits an explanation.)


Yes, he has - twice; although, as FarFromHome said, Tolkien discreetly avoided mentioning the step before.
It the previous thread, I was wondering whether Bilbo's coming fall was a way of taking him down a peg, after his heroic assuming of leadership; and if he falls because he forgot there should be a step - it's even more telling.


In Reply To
He's irritated and they need light. So he has a tantrum.


That's what I think as well; and it does justify Gloin's words - although arguably, now it's neither excitement nor fear.
But it would be more than enough to tell any enemy where they are - which if the dragon was really there, probably wouldn't make much of a difference, would it?
But note that Tolkien mentions it only now, as a subtle comment on his seeming ineptitude - and this could really turn into cheap comedy. Let's hope PJ and GdT avoid making this crassness!

"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 18 2009, 2:21am

Post #22 of 77 (85 views)
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I wouldn't go that far [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
We have discussed in the past how the passage subverts the very point of The Hobbit, by making Bilbo just another adventurous hero, so that the Unexpected Party becomes "expected".


It could be more a case of telling us that everyone has the potential for adventure below tthe surface.
Once we read the story as told by Gandalf, it appears that it was more about identifying who had the most potential, and making him realise it.

And I'm not sure we need to see it as foring The Hobbit into the world of LotR - it could be the case of Tolkien wearing a different hat.
As a father, his chief interest was to entertain and educate his children, so he needed to elaborate on the meaning and tell the story so it would be just great fun; but once he tried to evaluate it for a more mature audience (even if that was only himself, or the now grown-up Christopher) - he naturally saw it quite differently.

"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!


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Jun 18 2009, 2:58am

Post #23 of 77 (96 views)
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Quite right [In reply to] Can't Post

And now that you have pointed out the dichotomy between Bilbo's facade and his heart, we have a perfect example of how a culture can shape someone into seeming like quite a different kind of person from who he really is.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Curious
Half-elven


Jun 18 2009, 12:07pm

Post #24 of 77 (84 views)
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I just wish [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien had presented his sweeping racial generalizations as cultural norms or pressures, rather than racial characteristics. He does when it comes to individuals, but then he insists that all hobbits are x, or all dwarves y, or all elves z, even though the individuals we meet prove those generalizations are wrong.


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Jun 18 2009, 3:26pm

Post #25 of 77 (82 views)
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Interesting. [In reply to] Can't Post

I wonder just how conscious Tolkien might have been of this? They do say that bigotry begins to crumble as people get closer to the person in the category to which they attach prejudice, yet they will continue to treat each individual as an exception while mouthing the generalizations, oblivious to the contradiction.

The classic example is when Carl Jung suddenly realized that almost all of his closest friends and colleagues were Jews, yet he only thought of one--the most obnoxious--as a "typical Jew". He realized that this was not merely a neurosis, but a community neurosis in which he had been steeped from birth, and went on to develop his theory of projection based upon the discovery.

(And therein lies the problem with solving prejudice: we keep treating it like a conscious decision to be bad, when in fact it is a sort of mass hysteria, a collective mental disorder, ruled by the unconscious mind. We punish the symptoms when we should be curing the disease.)

In Tolkien's case, it seems not so much an individual prejudice, but the very concept of prejudice itself that he seems to have unconsciously outgrown while still reflexively giving it lip-service.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!

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