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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
***A glance back at "Not at Home"***

Modtheow
Lorien


Oct 9 2012, 12:20am

Post #1 of 14 (743 views)
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***A glance back at "Not at Home"*** Can't Post

I thought that before venturing into the “Fire and Water” chapter this week, I’d make a few comments on “Not at Home,” since a regular discussion of it didn’t appear last week. Aside from the fascinating speculations about tunnel smells and dwarvish latrines (I’m convinced by the carving-plumbing argument!) there are a few moments in that chapter that deserve attention – or at least, they’re moments that I enjoy and I’m wondering what everyone else thinks about them. In this chapter, Bilbo takes the Arkenstone without telling anyone and receives his gift of a mithril coat. Please feel free to comment on these incidents, or the ones I outline below, or anything else you like in this chapter. And if I’m repeating something that has been discussed in the past few weeks, my apologies – I’m reading back into the discussions that I’ve missed, but I haven’t seen all the posts yet.


Bilbo’s proverbs


The first time Bilbo agrees to go into the tunnel, he is angry that he’s already managed to get the dwarves out of two predicaments and they still want him to confront the dragon. However, he agrees to go, recalling one of his father’s sayings, “third time pays for all.” We are told that going forward into the tunnel was one of the bravest things Bilbo had ever done. The second time he goes into the tunnel, he volunteers on his own, recalling his father’s saying, “Every worm has his weak spot.” In the “Not at Home” chapter, the dwarves are in despair and feeling trapped, but “Bilbo felt a strange lightening of the heart”; this time, he seems to be cheering up the dwarves and recalls once again that his father used to say “While there’s life there’s hope!” and “Third time pays for all.”



Are such proverbial sayings just things people say, like clichés, without thinking much about their meaning? Do they have any special significance in Bilbo’s situations? Why is it always his father’s sayings that he remembers? How is Bilbo’s character developing in these adventures?


The Arkenstone


“Ever as he climbed, the same white gleam had shone before him and drawn his feet towards it. Slowly it grew to a little globe of pallid light. Now as he came near, it was tinged with a flickering sparkle of many colours at the surface, reflected and splintered from the wavering light of his torch. At last he looked down upon it, and he caught his breath. The great jewel shone before his feet of its own inner light, and yet, cut and fashioned by the dwarves, who had dug it form the heart of the mountain long ago, it took all light that fell upon it and changed it into ten thousand sparks of white radiance shot with glints of the rainbow.”


Wow! That is all I can say. Splintered light...great jewel...no such gem in all the world....Comments?


“that nasty, clockless, timeless hole”


Given that the company finds itself in the lair of a dragon, they’re in no hurry to leave. Of course, we can attribute that to the bewitchment of the hoard, and they do pull themselves out of it eventually (Bilbo sooner than the others) to think about getting out of there before Smaug returns.



Where on earth do they think Smaug is – or are they thinking clearly? The next chapter will burst into action; this one seems to have a quiet tension. Do you remember your feelings at this point in your first reading? What are your views on the mood of “Not at Home” and its juxtapositioning with the “Fire and Water” chapter?


Tomorrow, some questions about Chapter XIV, “Fire and Water.”


Finding Frodo
Tol Eressea


Oct 9 2012, 3:37am

Post #2 of 14 (394 views)
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Proverbs [In reply to] Can't Post

All the old sayings Bilbo pulls out of memory are more than just cliches in my book -- for one, the era the story is set in feels so ancient at times that the proverbs seem newly minted by comparison. At the same time, they represent sensible hobbit wisdom that Bilbo and his father were steeped in. Elsewhere the tone of this chapter is very tense, but lightened with humor (the business with the dropped torch) and the temporary celebratory atmosphere when the dwarves are looking through the treasures.

Where's Frodo?


justbennett
The Shire

Oct 9 2012, 4:57am

Post #3 of 14 (357 views)
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The Stone and the Ring [In reply to] Can't Post

Bilbo takes the stone for the same reason he takes the ring. I'm not sure exactly what that reason is, but it seems a very similar situation. He doesn't have much time to think about it. The polite or strictly ethical thing to do would be to return it to its supposed owner. "Finder's keepers" is not a rule we live by. Of course, now that I think about it, hobbits do seem to try to claim possession in all sorts of creative ways (e.g. Sackville-Bagginses, Farmer Maggot's crops, the auction at Bag End). Perhaps it is just a hobbitish thing to do. Also, getting called a burglar over and over probably makes you a little more willing to lower your ethical standards.

The proverbs are great. They are reminders that Bilbo is a regular guy even though he's in a completely incredible situation. It makes the reader think, "Hey, I could handle this situation too if only I could remember all the wisdom my parents taught me."

I do remember feeling like they were hanging around way too long. If Smaug had shown up the story would have ended right away.


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Oct 10 2012, 2:14am

Post #4 of 14 (331 views)
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That dropped torch! [In reply to] Can't Post

This is another of those moments when I can only shake my head in frustration at those dwarves - well, most of them, and their grand leader in particular! But Balin once again endears himself to us.

Yes, that is quite a lighthearted moment, especially when the youngsters in the group form an impromptu band. Typical kids! Laugh


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

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"






Modtheow
Lorien


Oct 10 2012, 3:10am

Post #5 of 14 (348 views)
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What about his mother's wisdom? [In reply to] Can't Post

Wouldn't you think, though, that Bilbo's mother would be the one to provide words of wisdom for dangerous, adventurous situations like the ones Bilbo finds himself in rather than his father? But then again, I don't suppose Bilbo would seem like such a regular guy if he started quoting something different from the everyday proverbial sayings of his father. Or maybe unusually adventurous young female hobbits like Belladonna Took don't go in for ordinary Bungo-style hobbit sayings.


sador
Half-elven


Oct 10 2012, 8:48am

Post #6 of 14 (369 views)
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What a great idea! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you!


In Reply To
I’m convinced by the carving-plumbing argument


Yeah, it's a good one - despite my own tongue-in-cheek response there. Blush


In Reply To
In this chapter, Bilbo takes the Arkenstone without telling anyone and receives his gift of a mithril coat. Please feel free to comment on these incidents


Well, I've led this chapter on the last time we've discussed it - and commented on both. the Arkenstone and the mithril coat.

Are such proverbial sayings just things people say, like clichés, without thinking much about their meaning?
Possibly, but it is nice that Bilbo qualifies it with the saying not coming from personal experience.

Do they have any special significance in Bilbo’s situations?
Usually.

Why is it always his father’s sayings that he remembers?
Ah - this is another thing I've discussed!

How is Bilbo’s character developing in these adventures?
Personally, I think taking the Arkenstone 'for later' is morally his low point, which he won't redeem until the end of A Thief in the Night when he returns to Bombur, accepting responsibility for his gift to Bard (had he not returned, it would have been pure betrayal and cutting himself the best deal). And coming on top of it, the first time Thorin speaks in the treasury is to offer Bilbo his first reward!

Wow! That is all I can say. Splintered light...great jewel...no such gem in all the world....Comments?
A Silmaril? Morthoron asked about this only last week. And dernwyn discussed this possibility in the thread about the Arkenstone I've linked to above.


Where on earth do they think Smaug is – or are they thinking clearly?
At the moment they aren't. They have come home, and into a great hoard. You wouldn't be thinking clearly yourself under such circumstances (neither would I).

Do you remember your feelings at this point in your first reading?
No.

What are your views on the mood of “Not at Home” and its juxtapositioning with the “Fire and Water” chapter?
As Tolkien will say in the next chapter, the tension is unbearable - for the reader, who is not subject to the Dwarves feelings; there is only so much that words can convey!
But perhaps in the films it will work better.



"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



The weekly discussion of The Hobbit is back. Join us in the Reading Room for Fire and Water!


telain
Rohan

Oct 10 2012, 3:59pm

Post #7 of 14 (312 views)
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I know what you mean... [In reply to] Can't Post

I want to think it is more than just plot device, or part of Bilbo's character as the mover of the plot, but the relationship between the Arkenstone and the Ring is intriguing.

Perhaps Bilbo is attracted to shiny, other-worldly things (from the Tookish side, perhaps?) Maybe he is one of those great "noticers" and is either consciously or subconsciously aware of objects in his surroundings. Maybe he has good taste?

I also like your suggestion that Hobbits are acquisitive - makes sense to me!


telain
Rohan

Oct 10 2012, 4:07pm

Post #8 of 14 (330 views)
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Keep calm and carry on [In reply to] Can't Post

Some of these sayings, I think, carry both a kernel of truth, as well as being a shorthand for something (e.g., "third time pays off" is something you might say to bolster hope after two failed attempts.)

To me the proverbs are similar to the "original" nursery rhymes that appear in LOTR. Tolkien is building the mythology and giving us a sense of where some of these wise old sayings came from.

Except, as was previously pointed out, these don't seem to be "old wives' tales" they seem to be "old husband's sayings".

We have to wait until LOTR for the old wives to start talking...


justbennett
The Shire

Oct 10 2012, 5:31pm

Post #9 of 14 (362 views)
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In Bilbo's Defense [In reply to] Can't Post

Great thoughts, but it made me think of one more possible explanation from Bilbo's point of view.

"These dwarves have become altogether undependable, and we are likely to be in a bad situation again shortly. I'd better hold on to this just in case something happens."

Perhaps he was planning on keeping it, but I'm sure if it had become an issue he would have given the stone over to Thorin rather than having conflict with the dwarves.


CuriousG
Valinor


Oct 10 2012, 11:34pm

Post #10 of 14 (347 views)
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Tolkien hates women (just kidding!) [In reply to] Can't Post

Reading your post, I started wondering to myself about Bilbo's references to his father's wisdom, especially since his mother was on the adventurous Took side and was described as "remarkable" or something similar--why wouldn't she have had worldly advice in abundance to impart to Bilbo? And then I thought of Sam forever quoting the Gaffer but not his mother, and I thought, "Here we go again, Tolkien can't write about women..." But I thought about it some more in my everyday life, and I notice that my friends all tend to quote one of their parents much more than the other. Friend A will say "my dad always says" and won't give their mother 50% of the quotes, and Friend B will do the reverse. Based on that very anecdotal and unscientific evidence, I think it's natural to quote one parent more than the other for any number of reasons. So, I guess Bilbo does it just because.

Another thought I had was: why would Bilbo's dad know anything about worm's and their weaknesses? But again thinking of personal experience, my father never stitched a thing in his life, but he would say things like "A stitch in time saves nine" if the context were right, and my mother would do the same (see, 50% for me), so some sayings get bandied about by anyone regardless of the speaker's personal expertise.


Modtheow
Lorien


Oct 14 2012, 8:21pm

Post #11 of 14 (300 views)
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one link not working [In reply to] Can't Post

The link to your previous discussion of Bilbo's father's sayings isn't working. I'd love to take a look if you can find the full link.


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Oct 14 2012, 11:43pm

Post #12 of 14 (351 views)
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Is it supposed to be this one? [In reply to] Can't Post

http://newboards.theonering.net/...um.cgi?;post=197691;


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

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"






sador
Half-elven


Oct 15 2012, 7:51am

Post #13 of 14 (324 views)
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Yes, that's it. [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you!


(As an aside, I have received your e-mail. All is well. Thank you again!)

"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



The weekly discussion of The Hobbit is back. Join us in the Reading Room for Fire and Water!


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Oct 17 2012, 1:55am

Post #14 of 14 (639 views)
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You're welcome! [In reply to] Can't Post

 




(...twice! Wink)


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

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"





 
 

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