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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
**Out of the Frying Pan...** Part III - "Well, here we are. Fine leadership!"


Aug 16 2012, 10:41am

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**Out of the Frying Pan...** Part III - "Well, here we are. Fine leadership!" Can't Post

Well, I'm back.
First and foremost, I want to thank Elizabeth for posting the first two threads of this discussion! Seven are projected: I'll try to post one more this evening (Middle East time), and another tomorrow, so as to finish them all by Sunday. We'll see if I manage to.

Story-time is not over yet! Bilbo (and the reader) is still in the dark regarding many things, and wants Gandalf to fill him in. He finds a willing partner:

The wizard, to tell the truth, never minded explaining his cleverness more than once.

So we settle down for a third update (a boring chapter so far, isn't it?), and get to know:
· Gandalf actually knew there were goblins around, but thought there gate would come on a different pass.
· Once travelers became scarce, they must have opened another one. Fancy that! Who knew goblins are so intelligent?
· Gandalf followed the goblins quietly (invisibly? I see no reason to think so) until he could find a quiet place to work up his magic. This is interesting indeed! Just like he needed to recover after the door of the Chamber of Mazarbul burst open.
· And he also knew of the back-door – his wizardy skills were in finding the right direction through the maze of goblin tunnels. Shades of Queen Béruthiel's cats!

1. Okay. So far Gandalf has proven himself a capable fighter, and pretty effective wizard. How would you rate him as a guide? In a previous discussion, entmaiden was less than enthusiastic (here). What do you think?
2. Did you ever notice Gandalf's trait of telling everyone how wonderful he is over and over again? But does he show this in The Lord of the Rings – or is it a quirk of the older book? How does it relate to the "habit of the old" he confesses to having in The White Rider? Which is more exasperating company – Gandalf or Thorin?
3. Any notable wordplay or description so far? All I can come up with is "he had nipped inside the crack, just as it snapped to".
4. And last but not least – any comments about the friendly giant (or at least, a more or less decent one) Gandalf hopes to ask to block the Front Porch?

Our friends all have a good laugh at the expense of the goblins, but are called to their senses by Gandalf, who reminds them the hunt will be up soon. He also informs them that they are too far to the North, and that they have been in the nasty, clockless tunnels for more than two days.
Bilbo, of course, is the first to draw the natural conclusion – or the first to voice it:


"I am so dreadfully hungry," groaned Bilbo, who was suddenly aware that he had not had a meal since the night before the night before last. Just think of that for a hobbit! His stomach felt all empty and loose and his legs all wobbly, now that the excitement was over.
"Can't help it," said Gandalf, "unless you like to go back and ask the goblins nicely to let you have your pony back and your luggage." "No thank you!" said Bilbo.
"Very well then, we must just tighten our belts and trudge on - or we shall be made into supper, and that will be much worse than having none ourselves."

5. Very funny indeed! Is this a bit of fun for the audience? Will a child appreciate it?
6. Here I must call attention to Curious' observation that food (both eating, and avoiding being eaten) is a major theme in The Hobbit. Please comment.
According to Gandalf "There will be a bit of moon, if it keeps fine, and that is lucky". However, in The History of the Hobbit p. 821, Rateliff cites Tolkien's notes for the 1960 rewrite, dating this to be the night of the 7/8 of July. In page 830, however, he dates the previous New Moon (remember, Elrond saw the moon-letters with a crescent moon on Midsummer's Eve) to June 26th, which with the three Lithe days (see appendix D to The Lord of the Rings) means that this would be a full moon – perhaps a night or two at most before that!
7. How did Tolkien/Gandalf make such a mistake? And this is not a complicated calculation, which involves comparing the Moon on the Doorstep of the Mountain with that rising in Esgaroth; it is the same party walking for a week through the mountains.
8. Based on the events later in this chapter – which makes more sense? "A bit of a moon" or a full one? Did Gandalf make a mistake, or did Tolkien slip and not notice it in the revisions?

As they went on Bilbo looked from side to side for something to eat; but the blackberries were still only in flower, and of course there were no nuts, nor even hawthorn-berries. He nibbled a bit of sorrel, and he drank from a small mountain-stream that crossed the path, and he ate three wild strawberries that he found on its bank, but it was not much good. They still went on and on. The rough path disappeared. The bushes, and the long grasses, between the boulders, the patches of rabbit-cropped turf, the thyme and the sage and the marjoram, and the yellow rockroses all vanished…

9. Do you admire this description as much as I do? What landscape does it invoke? Are there mountains in England where all these can be found?
10. Does anyone have any pictures to help envision it? Are those batik posted relevant? What are they, by the way?
11. Have you ever eaten hawthorn-berries? Sorrel? Strawberries before the season? What was it like?

The next stage is fun to read about – and I suppose will be fun to watch, if Jackson is able to include it in his three-film saga! But it is far less convenient to be in, and the dwarves and Bilbo grumble indeed: the stones below them give way, and they slide down the slope until stopped by a wood of pine-trees below. Phew!
Gandalf is happy, if no-one else; Bombur even voices concern that the tracking goblins could roll stones from above upon them – which Gandalf pooh-poohs away. (For the second time! The first was when Bombur scolded Bilbo for picking the trolls' pocket.) So they turn off the path, and trudge on.
12. Hikers – is this a common occurance? Could this be avoided by a bit more care by the leader?
13. Was Bombur voicing a real concern – or was he just looking for anything to grumble about? Compare to the parallel case at the end of Roast Mutton.

"Must we go any further?" asked Bilbo, when it was so dark that he could only just see Thorin's beard wagging beside him, and so quiet that he could hear the dwarves' breathing like a loud noise. "My toes are all bruised and bent, and my legs ache, and my stomach is wagging like an empty sack." "A bit further," said Gandalf.

I know this description has been cited as an argument against Richard Armitrage's casing for a young-looking Thorin, but I'm not sure it is convincing. Anyway, this is enough for this discussion – next time we will finally meet new creatures!
Unless you have any other questions or comments before that.

"This chapter seems to be full of movement—slowly and deliberately (then less so) down hills; scrambling up trees-- then up, up, and away into the Eagles’ eyrie; and down, down back to the ground.
Flora, fauna, food, fear, and flight are featured..."
- batik

The weekly discussion of The Hobbit is back. Join us in the Reading Room for a somewhat less clever discussion of Out of the Frying Pan-into the Fire!

Subject User Time
**Out of the Frying Pan...** Part III - "Well, here we are. Fine leadership!" sador Send a private message to sador Aug 16 2012, 10:41am
    One of THOSE type of guides telain Send a private message to telain Aug 21 2012, 5:40pm
        Would children like it? sador Send a private message to sador Aug 23 2012, 9:37am
    *gets out pencil* dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Aug 27 2012, 12:15am
        Yep. sador Send a private message to sador Aug 27 2012, 8:42am
            The Appalachian Trail dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Aug 28 2012, 3:46am


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