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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
"Not at Home" delayed?


Oct 5 2012, 6:39pm

Post #1 of 9 (1224 views)
"Not at Home" delayed? Can't Post

I am attempting to contact iandea14, who volunteered to lead this discussion this week. He has not been on TORn since mid-September.

Meanwhile, I encourage any of you with thoughts or questions on this chapter to post them in response to this message.


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Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'

N.E. Brigand

Oct 7 2012, 3:13am

Post #2 of 9 (851 views)
How bad does it smell in that tunnel? [In reply to] Can't Post

Bilbo and the dwarves spend more than a day there, it seems. There is nowhere for them to relieve themselves but where they are.

And since the tunnel slopes continuously from the outer entrance down to Smaug's lair, when the Company eventually does decide to head down, the walk may have become rather slippery.

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Forum Admin / Moderator

Oct 7 2012, 3:24am

Post #3 of 9 (736 views)
Probably as bad as it smelled in the barrels. [In reply to] Can't Post

That's a problem with fiction - no one ever needs to find the little boys' room. (Except in one Isaac Asimov story in his Foundation series.)

You'd think for sure that Smaug would have smelled something, even in his sleep. Maybe that's what first brought about his uneasy dream before he woke and missed the cup.

Or maybe that's why Bilbo thought a large cup would be a good thing to take back with him...


"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

Tol Eressea

Oct 7 2012, 8:34am

Post #4 of 9 (755 views)
hang on [In reply to] Can't Post

let's think this through - I've just woken up, so bear with me... Smaug wouldn't have smelled the dwarve's lavatory, because they were camped outside at the time the cup was stolen. the Dwarves' plight became desperate later on, when Smaug attacked their camp and smashed the mountain-side, trapping them inside. IIRC, they took tools and supplies into the tunnel with them.

Now Tolkien didn't mention toilet facilities in his stories, as was not uncommon until recently - though here and there in LotR we hear of 'orcs and their filth'. Obviously JRR must have had some experience of life without loos; in the trenches during WWI for example. Lots of men, stuck in crowded conditions - awful. I suppose not many old soldiers thought this sort of thing worth talking about, except as part of a shared experience, kept from outsiders. And it doesn't just apply to soldiers - I've heard of life underground from my uncles, who were all miners. There are no loos underground; well, not at the coal-face. The mines we're talking about extended to about a mile or so under the sea. miners have picks and shovels; they had to make a ledge to put their 'bait' boxes onto, in order to keep them out of the way of the rats. (Miners in our pit village called their sandwiches their 'bait;. Not sure of the spelling; it doesn't sound like the usual pronounciation).

So - dwarves; practical underground folk. I guess the first thing they'd do, now that the jig was up and there was no further need for concealment. was to organise their new camp at the top end of the tunnel; and one of the first things to do would be - to carve out a series of suitable nooks, which could then be filled in when things got too ripe! That's my thinking, anyhow. Now - breakfast time!


Forum Admin / Moderator

Oct 7 2012, 7:17pm

Post #5 of 9 (700 views)
You're right, that was an earlier occurrance! [In reply to] Can't Post

And a very good point you have regarding the sanitary habits of those who stay underground for extensive periods of time.

After they had retreated to the tunnel, Thorin must have ordered the basics of underground encampment - which would include setting some of the dwarves to latrine duty, that is, working facilities into the walls or floor of the tunnel. Dwarves are supposed to be amazingly handy at crafting stone, do you supposed they could have devised a drainage system?


"I desired dragons with a profound desire"


Oct 8 2012, 3:08am

Post #6 of 9 (786 views)
Life without a loo in LotR? Oh yeah, Shelob baby, shovel it. [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien made up for the lack of "little boys room" segments in his epic near the end, with an entire chapter that takes place in a "big girls room" setting.

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 (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary

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Forum Admin / Moderator

Oct 9 2012, 12:03am

Post #7 of 9 (655 views)
Now that was a classic thread. [In reply to] Can't Post

*sigh* It seems like we just don't make'em like that anymore...Unsure


"I desired dragons with a profound desire"


Oct 9 2012, 2:20pm

Post #8 of 9 (666 views)
"But not an apple!" [In reply to] Can't Post

Or perhaps Fili was an exception, and the older dwarves had prostate problems? Small wonder Balin was waterlogged, and Thorin came out like a large dog who has been kept in a small kennel!

That's a nice idea, but let me tell you the real reason:
When Aulë first made the Dwarves, he simply forgot this minor detail. He never paid much attention to Biology, and concealed his little project from Yavanna (husbands tend to do this, and always pay for it); therefore, Dwarves had to absorb everything they consumed - and normally die of corpulent indigestion (if they were not violently killed).

Aforetime it was held among the Elves in Middle-earth that dying the Dwarves returned to the earth and the stone of which they were made.

You see, after never seeing any dwarf relieving themselves, the Elves assumed they just cannot be humanoid - as opposed to Orcs, which were bred in mockery of the children of Ilúvatar, and were always having bowel problems.

"Bard is known as someone who forebodes gloomy things like floods and poisoned fish. Floods I can see, but poisoned fish? How and why would Bard forebode poisoned fish? Or is this just a slander against Bard?"
- Curious

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Forum Admin / Moderator

Oct 10 2012, 1:36am

Post #9 of 9 (1122 views)
That might explain [In reply to] Can't Post

their love of cram! Tongue

But if they absorbed everything, unless they ate very little, they'd die rather young, wouldn't they?

I find intriguing the digestive characteristic of the dwarfs in Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series. Very, ah, efficient!


"I desired dragons with a profound desire"


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