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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
**Queer Lodgings**: The Approach.


Aug 22 2012, 9:02am

Views: 569
**Queer Lodgings**: The Approach. Can't Post

Welcome back to all. In this post I want to look at the chapter up to the point where Gandalf and Bilbo leave the Dwaves to find Beorn in his hall.

First I'd like to discuss the Carrock. The name itself rather than the geograhical feature. Most names in the Hobbit are pretty bald descriptions rather than names. Bilbo lives on “The Hill” by “The Water”. There is a “Long Lake”, a “Lonely Mountain”, a “Running River” and the list could be extended. I think it was something by Tom Shippey that first alerted me to the suggestion that the Carrock does not fit this pattern. We get an excellent description of it but its name does not sum this description up at least in our language. Why does Tolkien depart from his usual practice in the Hobbit here? It seems he knows what he's doing because Bilbo, who has not asked what the “Last Homely House” or the “Great River” are, questions Gandalf about the Carrock and is left little wiser for his pains. Are you content with Gandalf's explanation? Gandalf seems to imply that “Carrock” is meaningless at least to us. Is it meaningless to Beorn who named it? Was it meaningless to Tolkien? If, in either case, not then what is the meaning?

Moving on to the King of the Eagles we are told that “in after days” he wore a golden crown and his “chieftains” wore golden collars. I must confess that this does not seem like Gwaihir in LotR to me, or of Landroval his brother come to that. If it has not been raised before, what relationship, if any, is there between Gwaihir the Windlord and this King of the Eagles? The crown and the collars are made from “the gold that the dwarves had given them”. Doesn't this imply that the dwarves did not fashion the gold into crown and collars themselves? If so, who fashioned the gold? Was it the Eagles themselves? I find that highly unlikely I must say. Perhaps it was other dwarves just not our dwarves. What is going on here?

When the party descended the Carrock “...they took off their clothes and bathed in the river...” and afterwards they “...dried in the sun...”. That seems very sensible. They must be pretty grimy as they have not washed, presumably since Rivendell. I think I'd have taken the opportunity to wash my clothes while I was at it and dried them in the sun as well. How about you? Perhaps they did do this and the narrator omitted to tell us. What do you think? In any event there seem to have been fifteen naked bodies drying out on the bank at one stage. Communal bathing was the norm in boy's schools in Tolkien's time and place, and indeed in mine, so he wouldn't have thought twice about writing this scene unless, of course, some of the dwarves were dwarf women! If communal bathing was the norm, communal mixed bathing was certainly not. Where does this leave the theory that some of the dwarves were women? I understand the argument goes that two or three of the dwarves are never referred to by masculine pronouns, he him etc. and that therefore they may be female. Further, if somebody is possibly not male then they are probably not. I have never been convinced by this line of argument. Do you like the theory that some of the dwarves were women or not?

Beorn gets quite a big build up in this section which ends before we meet him face to face. Initially we are told that there is “somebody” (Tolkien's italics) living nearby. Next he is “That Somebody...” (Tolkien's capital S) and before Gandalf names him he refers to him as “The Somebody...” again. What purpose does this initial mystery serve? Well in due course Gandalf gives Beorn his name and explains that he is very large and strong and prone to anger. He is also sometimes a man and sometimes a bear, a sort of werebear as it were. And the party must head off to visit him. Was this sort of graphic description of Somebody who might inhabit a horror movie common to children's books in Tolkien's time? Is it today? Can Beorn possibly live up to his billing?

In the next post which will be soon I hope we, and our friends, do meet Beorn face to face. More then.


Subject User Time
**Queer Lodgings**: The Approach. Pryderi Send a private message to Pryderi Aug 22 2012, 9:02am
    A quick google search led me to this: Aunt Dora Baggins Send a private message to Aunt Dora Baggins Aug 22 2012, 10:47pm
    Beowulf and Beorn... Istari68 Send a private message to Istari68 Aug 23 2012, 12:13am
    Late answers sador Send a private message to sador Aug 27 2012, 1:39pm
    Wrestling elevorn Send a private message to elevorn Aug 27 2012, 6:57pm
    When is a Carrock not a carrock? dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Aug 31 2012, 3:43am
        Oh! sador Send a private message to sador Aug 31 2012, 6:14am
            I checked dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Sep 3 2012, 1:16am


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