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* * On the Doorstep * * Part 2: Still 'round the corner there may wait...

dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Sep 19 2012, 1:53am

Post #1 of 12 (789 views)
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* * On the Doorstep * * Part 2: Still 'round the corner there may wait... Can't Post

This part continues on to "...in the middle of the bay."


Now the dwarves are beset with a depression - "None of them had much spirit left". Indeed it is our intrepid hobbit who now takes the lead, insisting on searching for the secret door, which necessitates them moving their camp to the western side of the Mountain.

1. Wait a minute. We just read that when they arrived, they were intent on finding the "hidden door, on which all their hopes rested". So what is with this general depression? Why is Thorin seemingly relinquishing his leadership position to Bilbo? Why this disinterest by the dwarves in the Map?

2. What does it say about that side of the Mountain, if in that desolate land enough grass grew there for their ponies to feed on?


Then one day, Bilbo, out searching with the youngest two dwarves, comes across what look like steps. The three follow this path, and discover a small walled bay, with what appears to be a dwarf-door on the mountain-side. (Back in the first chapter, Thorin confirmed that the dwarves' usual method was to craft a door which has been made to look exactly like the side of the Mountain.) Whereupon they - I'm assuming the two dwarves - make several attempts to open the door.

3. Fili and Kili and the hobbit, again! Speculate as to why those two seem to be the ones who accompany Bilbo in his searches, rather than some of the other dwarves.

4. Once again it is Bilbo who is the prime mover of a pivotal moment. Does this get to be too much for you - do you find yourself wishing that someone else in the party had made the discovery of the steps?



So now they make their third camp within the walls of this bay. Because of the narrow, perilous path leading to it, they haul supplies up via ropes. Bofur and Bombur are left guarding the ponies and other supplies, 150 feet below. When all is set, even Bofur joins them, but Bombur stays behind. "'And the knotted ropes are too slender for my weight.' Luckily for him that was not true, as you will see."

5. What do you think of this last comment to the reader? Does it give too much away? Or does it create a bit of suspense?


The path to the bay continues on up the Mountain, but the dwarves "did not dare to venture" that way. Instead, "they were too eager to trouble about the runes or the moon-letters", and resort to physical force to try to open the door. And fail miserably.

Let's go back to the Map: "Five feet high the door and three may walk abreast", state the runes. The Moon-letters read: "Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks and the setting sun with the last light of Durin's Day will shine upon the key-hole". The dwarves are ignoring this, and they also seem to have forgotten about the "small and curious key" which Gandalf gave Thorin, which he said went with the map.

6. The runes would have given them some idea as to the outline of the door they were seeking; why pay no attention to this? As for the Moon-letters, are dwarves just naturally poor at working out puzzles? Why do none of them associate "key-hole" and "key" with "door" and come up with: "Oh, this is a door that needs to be unlocked"?

Now they are literally "sitting on the doorstep", and no ideas as to what to do next are coming to any of them, but they are loathe to leave. So they become "glummer and glummer", while Bilbo gazes back to his long-distant home, and watches the large snails slime around the stone in the middle of the bay.

7. They've been on the road for over 6 months, why had they not been doing any brainstorming along the way?

I don't know about you, but at this point I start to get exceedingly annoyed at these dwarves!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"






sador
Half-elven


Sep 20 2012, 4:22pm

Post #2 of 12 (281 views)
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Answers [In reply to] Can't Post

1. So what is with this general depression?
For the dwarves, this is a haunted place. Not one of them (well perhaps Bifur and his cousins) has not lost in this vicinity near relatives. Remember Gimli on Balin's tomb?

Why is Thorin seemingly relinquishing his leadership position to Bilbo?
Overwhelmed.

Why this disinterest by the dwarves in the Map?
They are not disinterested, they are dispirited. Like Frodo at the Scouring of the Shire.


2. What does it say about that side of the Mountain, if in that desolate land enough grass grew there for their ponies to feed on?

Sheltered.

3. Fili and Kili and the hobbit, again! Speculate as to why those two seem to be the ones who accompany Bilbo in his searches, rather than some of the other dwarves.
Tolkien knew he was going to kill them, and wanted the reader to bond with the. (yes, this doesn't really fit with Rateliff).

Balin was too old, and these were the first two names which came into Tolikien's mind (probably the correct answer, but the least satisfying).

As the youngest of the dwarves, they were the most active and the most likely to rove far from the camp.

And as the youngest, they were the least oppressed by the ghosts who reside in the place.

4. Once again it is Bilbo who is the prime mover of a pivotal moment. Does this get to be too much for you - do you find yourself wishing that someone else in the party had made the discovery of the steps?
Well yeah, it's getting pretty heavy-handed.

But once Bilbo will betray the dwarves, we need to remain on his side. So Tolkien pumps up his importance, while making sure you are annoyed with them.

5. What do you think of this last comment to the reader?
Nice.

Does it give too much away?
Not more than usual.

Or does it create a bit of suspense?
It does point out that this bleak, uneventful chapter is just a break in a breathtaking adventure.

6. The runes would have given them some idea as to the outline of the door they were seeking; why pay no attention to this?
I'm sure there are many grey stones around, and that the mountain-side is much larger than the tunnel.

As for the Moon-letters, are dwarves just naturally poor at working out puzzles?
Well, they haven't read them for a long time. I'm sure even Bilbo had forgotten about them.

And how many of the dwarves actually heard Elrond reading them out? It's more like Tolkien slipped than they did.

Why do none of them associate "key-hole" and "key" with "door" and come up with: "Oh, this is a door that needs to be unlocked"?
And then just wait for what might be Durin's Day?

Or let's try a different tack: what makes you so sure Thorin isn't doing just that?

7. They've been on the road for over 6 months, why had they not been doing any brainstorming along the way?
I suppose they did in Lake-town; but just waiting for Durin's Day seems no good.

Perhaps Thorin wanted to stay down by the Lake a bit longer, but felt he was overstaying his welcome.


"Throughout The Hobbit our accomplished author often ignores the basic convention of writing to "show, not tell." Is the age of his audience the reason? The age of his sources?"
- ElanorTX



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


justbennett
The Shire

Sep 20 2012, 6:40pm

Post #3 of 12 (270 views)
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I realize I am hopelessly unable to comment on each question, so I'll just pick my favorite.

YES, I did get annoyed with the dwarves. Disappointed may be the better word. I had developed a great deal of respect for them having the courage to undertake an impossible task. Then when their moment came they were cowardly lions.

HOWEVER, I think it deserves deeper analysis. The dwarves especially the older dwarves with memories associated with the tragic events that had happened in this place would be struggling emotionally. Revenge had motivated them thus far, but when they saw the level of destruction and were reminded of the level of violence and hate they were up against they were at a loss. Hobbits are characterized as being generally level-headed even in extreme situations. Bilbo's courage, wits and luck seem to increase according to the level of pressure he is under. Also, the story is largely focused on Bilbo's point of view. So in his descriptions Tolkien shows a bias toward Bilbo. This did make me feel more on Bilbo's "side." I was thankful that Bilbo was there otherwise the dwarves and the story and I would have been stuck.

Also, it is a reality check. Tolkien comes out and says it later. Dwarves are not great heroes. They are a quite remarkable people, but they are not elves and they are not men. It makes me think back to their creation story. The ways dwarves fit into middle earth is very interesting. They weren't directly created by ...what's his name. I don't have my book handy. They were created by one of the Valdar (right?) kind of in secret on the side. They would have been destroyed, but their creator was repentant and they were allowed to come to life at a later appointed time. So in some ways they don't fit in the world. They don't relate well with others. They don't reach the highest ideas of courage, art, or love. Yet they are brave, creative, and loving in their own way. More importantly they are very much included in the ordering of history. In other words, they factor into the prophecies, and they are clearly at times guided by "fate" (the map, they key, the ring, etc.). Perhaps the enchantment of the dragon's presence (as later does the dragon treasure) has a disproportionate effect on the dwarves.

I could go on, but if you don't already see where I'm going, then you probably don't want to go there.


telain
Rohan

Sep 21 2012, 1:12pm

Post #4 of 12 (329 views)
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i know what you mean [In reply to] Can't Post

I have always been a bit annoyed at the dwarves at this point in the story.

Maybe they have been through so much on this journey that they sort of expected it to be easy to get into the mountain (it is, after all, their mountain). Now I begin to wonder -- what were the dwarves doing on the journey to the Shire to get Bilbo -- of course they had Gandalf! I really am beginning to wonder if the dwarves are up to this adventure after all.

As for Bilbo being the prime mover of a pivotal moment -- at this point, I come to expect it. The dwarves seem to lack any real creative problem-solving skills, so it's no wonder they've become despondent once they realize they are at the door, but don't know how to get in.

Sometimes it is necessary to have a perspective that isn't so invested in the final outcome (Bilbo). The dwarves are so focused on the Mountain, their treasure -- have they even really thought about Smaug? I think not. I think they suffer from that dwarven curse and in the forefront of their minds is their treasure and getting it back.


demnation
Rohan


Sep 23 2012, 3:17am

Post #5 of 12 (241 views)
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Those Dwarves! [In reply to] Can't Post

1. The six P's

2. Hope in the most unlikely of places.

3. Fili and Kili are fairly well defined characters at this point. Perhaps Tolkien didn't feel like trying to expand on two others.

4. No. Bilbo is the main character, after all.

5.Both!

6.

Laugh

7. Personally, I find the dwarves' lack of planning rather amusing. Maybe they (secretly) think Bilbo will figure it out.

Use Well the Days


telain
Rohan

Sep 23 2012, 12:41pm

Post #6 of 12 (289 views)
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you were thinking of Aulė... [In reply to] Can't Post

... The Vala who created the dwarves.

I quite like the direction you were going, actually. The dwarves were not part of the original Song of Eru, therefore they have their place in Middle-earth, but they don't get along very well with everyone else; they fit, but not terribly well.

To me, The Hobbit has an ever-present undertone of the danger of being too greedy: Gollum & the Ring, the Master of Lake-town, the impetus for the dwarves' quest -- I'm sure there are other examples. The dwarves's greed comes from the "flaw" built into them when Eru allowed them to be "born", therefore it isn't surprising when they aren't really able to work outside of that impulse.

I guess I have a new-found respect for Gimli in LOTR...


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Sep 24 2012, 12:51am

Post #7 of 12 (231 views)
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Ghosts of dwarrows past [In reply to] Can't Post

So it may be, that none of these dwarves realized how depressing being at the place of such a horrible massacre would be, or that it would have such a profound psychological effect on them. Considering dwarves are a strange folk, that's plausible!

Bilbo hasn't forgotten about the moon-letters: "He would often borrow Thorin's map and gaze at it, pondering over the runes and the message of the moon-letters Elrond had read." Nor had the dwarves - "They were too eager to trouble about the runes or the moon-letters"; they were simply ignoring them. Stubborn folk!

Thorin said back in Rivendell that they had no way of reckoning when Durin's Day would next come, which seems rather strange, don't you think? They can follow the phases of the moon, and track the days of the seasons.That they could not at least figure it out to within a day or two has bothered me!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"






dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Sep 24 2012, 12:59am

Post #8 of 12 (215 views)
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A very strange folk [In reply to] Can't Post

No need to answer all questions put forth, justbennett, they're mainly there to provoke thoughts! Smile

You make good points here, and I see where you're getting at. Sador has a similar comment in his post: the dwarves are not like us, they are affected differently. You're right that their physical and emotional makeup is not that of Men or Hobbits (or Elves).

But I still get frustrated by them at times! Laugh


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"






dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Sep 24 2012, 1:04am

Post #9 of 12 (226 views)
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Creative problem-solving skills! [In reply to] Can't Post

They may be fantastic at craftsmanship, but when it comes to strategic maneuvers, they don't always have the mind for it (unless it involves stonework, it seems).

Come to think of it, this may be the "real" reason Gandalf insisted on having a hobbit along: to be the brains of the operation, when their brains failed!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"






dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Sep 24 2012, 1:12am

Post #10 of 12 (231 views)
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And what are [In reply to] Can't Post

these mysterious "six P's", preciousss? Are they juicy? Are they scrumptiously crunchable?

Ah, finally someone who saw the strangeness of that grass for the ponies: "hope in the most unlikely of places"! A sign that here was a good place to halt. And an indicator that the dragon was not frequenting this place. Smile


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"






demnation
Rohan


Sep 24 2012, 4:58am

Post #11 of 12 (253 views)
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The p's [In reply to] Can't Post

Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance

A phrase I have had thrown at me by a few of my elders Smile

I think we can all agree by now that planning and brainstorming are not strong suits of the dwarves! Laugh

Perhaps the dwarves finally realize they never had a concrete plan for the "endgame", having focused their efforts on just getting to the mountain. Maybe they thought they would never actually get there? It would partially explain their self-defeating natures.

Use Well the Days


justbennett
The Shire

Sep 24 2012, 6:49pm

Post #12 of 12 (678 views)
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Ah yes, Aulė! [In reply to] Can't Post

I was intrigued, as I fancy myself a theologian, by the contrast between Aulė and Melkor. Where Melkor created perverted knock-offs of Eru's creations out of jealously and discord, Aulė seemed to create out of innocent curiosity. If I remember correctly he was prepared to destroy them with a hammer until Eru revealed a different fate.

So the dwarves are different, AND YET...don't we see these same tendencies in our fellow humans (if not ourselves). They seem to grumble when they should be grateful. I wonder if Tolkien had specific people and experiences in mind when he wrote the dwarves. I could imagine the war gave him opportunities to see this behavior in action.

Yes, Gimli seems to be a much more mature representative of his people. Perhaps the stabilization of their society and his exposure to other races had an effect.

 
 

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