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**The Gathering of the Clouds** II

Curious
Half-elven


Oct 18 2012, 1:48am

Post #1 of 6 (362 views)
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**The Gathering of the Clouds** II Can't Post


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Then Thorin burst forth in anger: "Our thanks, Rošc Carc's son. You and your people shall not be forgotten. But none of our gold shall thieves take or the violent carry off while we are alive. If you would earn our thanks still more, bring us news of any that draw near. Also I would beg of you, if any of you are still young and strong of wing, that you would send messengers to our kin in the mountains of the North, both west from here and east, and tell them of our plight. But go specially to my cousin Dain in the Iron Hills, for he has many people well-armed, and dwells nearest to this place. Bid him hasten!"

"I will not say if this counsel be good or bad," croaked Rošc; "but I will do what can be done." Then off he slowly flew.


Questions:

How would dwarves reward sentient ravens?

Does anyone want to defend Thorinís reaction?

Did the thrush let Bard know what the dwarves were doing? Why or why not?


Quote

Why is the first time we have heard about Thorinís cousin Dain and his many people well-armed? Why didnít the dwarves consult Dain or all the other dwarves in the area before challenging Smaug? Are they going to share the treasure with Dain?

"Back now to the Mountain!" cried Thorin. "We have little time to lose."

"And little food to use!" cried Bilbo, always practical on such points. In any case he felt that the adventure was, properly speaking, over with the death of the dragon -- in which he was much mistaken -- and he would have given most of his share of the profits for the peaceful winding up of these affairs.

"Back to the Mountain!" cried the dwarves as if they had not heard him; so back he had to go with them. As you have heard some of the events already, you will see that the dwarves still had some days before them. They explored the caverns once more, and found, as they expected, that only the Front Gate remained open; all the other gates (except, of course, the small secret door) had long ago been broken and blocked by Smaug, and no sign of them remained. So now they began to labour hard in fortifying the main entrance, and in remaking the road that led from it. Tools were to be found in plenty that the miners and quarriers and builders of old had used; and at such work the dwarves were still very skilled.


Questions:

Why wasn't the adventure over, properly speaking? Why didn't Tolkien just wind things up quickly? What point is he trying to make?

The tools are still in good shape? How so? Why havenít they rusted?

What was Bilbo thinking while the dwarves were fortifying the entrance? What was he doing?

How did the dwarves go about building a stone wall so quickly? How strong would the hastily-built wall have been?


Quote

As they worked the ravens brought them constant tidings. In this way they learned that the Elvenking had turned aside to the Lake, and they still had a breathing space. Better still, they heard that three of their ponies had escaped and were wandering wild far down the banks of the Running River, not far from where the rest of their stores had been left. So while the others went on with their work, Fili and Kili were sent, guided by a raven, to find the ponies and bring back all they could.


Questions:

Are other birds bringing the Elvenking constant tidings, or Bard? Why or why not?


Quote

They were four days gone, and by that time they knew that the joined armies of the Lake-men and the Elves were hurrying towards the Mountain. But now their hopes were higher; for they had food for some weeks with care -- chiefly cram, of course, and they were very tired of it; but cram is much better than nothing -- and already the gate was blocked with a wall of squared stones laid dry, but very thick and high across the opening. There were holes in the wall through which they could see (or shoot) but no entrance. They climbed in or out with ladders, and hauled stuff up with ropes. For the issuing of the stream they had contrived a small low arch under the new wall; but near the entrance they had so altered the narrow bed that a wide pool stretched from the mountain-wall to the head of the fall over which the stream went towards Dale. Approach to the Gate was now only possible, without swimming, along a narrow ledge of the cliff, to the right as one looked outwards from the wall. The ponies they had brought only to the head of the steps above the old bridge, and unloading them there had bidden them return to their masters and sent them back riderless to the South.


Questions:

Where did they get their cram? It didnít come from Lake-town, did it? Didnít they lose all their other supplies when they were captured by the elves?

Where did they get their ladders? If they made them, what did they use for materials? Isnít the area barren?

Does the wide pool blocking the entrance remind anyone of anything?

Any other comments about these passages?




squire
Valinor


Oct 18 2012, 3:42am

Post #2 of 6 (112 views)
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Raven wanna cracker? [In reply to] Can't Post

A. How would dwarves reward sentient ravens?
I imagine that Thorin foresees a restoration of the Kingdom under the Mountain. In that former time it seems the Ravens were privileged in some way that makes them still loyal to the dwarves after many many years of absence. Easy food? Safety from predators? Someone to talk to who is not a carrion bird?

B. Does anyone want to defend Thorinís reaction?
I donít know about ďdefendĒ, but I think Thorin is acting perfectly in character here. He is who he is, and can do no other, etc.

C. Did the thrush let Bard know what the dwarves were doing? Why or why not?
Bard shows no sign of any knowledge of the dwarvesí doings when he shows up at the gate in the coming scenes, so I would say no.

D. Why is this the first time we have heard about Thorinís cousin Dain and his many people well-armed?
More dramatic? I donít know. This belongs in the same category as the many other questions about the plotting of the latter half of The Hobbit, which are so easily ignored if one is simply enjoying the ripsnorting pace and color of the story itself. Why is Bardís appearance so unforeseen? How did Thorin expect to defeat the dragon, burglar or no burglar? What does Smaug feed on if there is no living thing in his territory?

E. Why didnít the dwarves consult Dain or all the other dwarves in the area before challenging Smaug?
Hoping to succeed without needing help and sharing the wealth afterwards, I guess.

F. Are they going to share the treasure with Dain?
Well, one has to assume that even Thorin would accept the need for that, if Dain shows up and saves the day. But just now Thorin is thinking about kin and clan, not gold and silver, and I bet Dain will feel the same when he gets the summons.

G. Why wasn't the adventure over, properly speaking? Why didn't Tolkien just wind things up quickly? What point is he trying to make?
He is a sucker for tales of cursed treasure, and wars brought about by conflicting fates, as we know from reading the Silmarillion which he was just whipping into shape at the same time he was writing this story. Bilbo has always been in the position of being caught up in something larger than himself. His adventure with Smaug was ultimately not a final test of his quality, because he was not the hero who slew the dragon. To end the story now leaves Bilboís development at an odd place: his courage fully developed, but with no outlet scaled to its size. He is no dragon-slayer, but he is truly a burglar extraordinaire. The coming conflict will give him the chance to end an entire war through stealth.

Frankly, the adventure I could do without is not the siege of the Lonely Mountain by Bard and the Elven King, but the Battle of Five Armies that follows and spoils Bilboís final triumph. Not here, but there in the story is the point where I usually think, ďOh God, more troubleĒ before expiring.

H. The tools are still in good shape? How so? Why havenít they rusted?
ďDwarf tools do not rust.Ē See, I said it, and it sounds good. Why? I donít know Ė why does the hidden door work the way it does? How did those crystal cave lights work that allowed the Dwarves and Elves to live underground for centuries? What is mithril anyway?

I. What was Bilbo thinking while the dwarves were fortifying the entrance? What was he doing?
Probably helping them in some way calculated to involve as little physical labor as possible.

J. How did the dwarves go about building a stone wall so quickly?
They donít work stone with their fingernails, as Gimli points out in LotR. But these dwarves have the proper tools. Merely squaring stone and laying it without mortar might go quite quickly when done by these legendary folk. I kind of like that they donít attempt to build a proper gate Ė thatís what shows, by omission, that what they did do was not all that hard for them in the time and conditions they had.

K. How strong would the hastily-built wall have been?
Strong enough. Stone is quite heavy. I imagine the wall was crafted so it pushed outward a lot easier than inward, since later on the dwarves break their way out so very dramatically.

L. Are other birds bringing the Elvenking constant tidings, or Bard? Why or why not?
As I noted above, we are given no sign that those two have any advance intelligence of Thorinís doings at all.

M. Where did they get their cram? It didnít come from Lake-town, did it? Didnít they lose all their other supplies when they were captured by the elves?
Why not Lake-town? They would have learned a thing or two from the dwarves in the past, and cram is useful for anyone making long journeys.

N. Where did they get their ladders? If they made them, what did they use for materials? Isnít the area barren?
The illustration of Smaug in the book clearly shows ladders to reach into the pots of treasure. Iím sure those are the ladders the dwarves used here.

O. Does the wide pool blocking the entrance remind anyone of anything?
Well, the pool in front of the West Gate of Moria in LotR; and also the pool that backs up behind the wall at Helmís Deep.

P. Any other comments about these passages?
Yes, why didnít they slaughter the ponies and cure the meat as jerky?



squire online:
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sador
Half-elven


Oct 18 2012, 3:32pm

Post #3 of 6 (117 views)
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Answers [In reply to] Can't Post

How would dwarves reward sentient ravens?

Does anyone want to defend Thorinís reaction?

Did the thrush let Bard know what the dwarves were doing? Why or why not?

I have nothing to add to squire's answers on the first and third questions.

Regarding the second - what is there to defend? Do you think the sentiment of resisting two armies coming to plunder all your possessions is so wrong? And why so?

I expect that messages would have been sent to all of Durin's Folk anyway. And as for telling Dain of Thorin's plight - so what? Better to buy Bard off?

Are other birds bringing the Elvenking constant tidings, or Bard? Why or why not?

You've asked that already. I don't think the thrush is bringing Bard tiding, but I suppose the Elvenking heard of the death of Smaug first from the birds (although I wonder what his spies were doing?).

As both squire and myself pointed out, those who arrived at the Mountain did seem surprised by the new wall. I take it that Bard was truthful, and really didn't know Thorin was alive yet (although his joy at the tidings might not have been completely genuine).

Are you suggesting that the scouts' surprise was that the dwarves could not be taken at unawares?

Why wasn't the adventure over, properly speaking? Why didn't Tolkien just wind things up quickly? What point is he trying to make?

I supposed that greed can drive good people to do bad things. But what would you do with such a treasure? And how would Bilbo return home?

The tools are still in good shape? How so? Why havenít they rusted?

Just like the harps two chapters ago,

What was Bilbo thinking while the dwarves were fortifying the entrance? What was he doing?

Trying to work out how to sneak away with the Arkenstone.

How did the dwarves go about building a stone wall so quickly? How strong would the hastily-built wall have been?

Pretty strong. Have you read One_Day_in_the_Life_of_Ivan_Denisovich? The dwarves are a smaller team, but professional and motivated.

Where did they get their cram? It didnít come from Lake-town, did it? Didnít they lose all their other supplies when they were captured by the elves?

Yes. And some time ago, a thoughtful member of this forum suggested that the Master actually gave them provisions past their expiration date (answer 5).

Where did they get their ladders? If they made them, what did they use for materials? Isnít the area barren?

Nice question, but they might have been there since Thror's time.

Or else they brought them from Lake-town.

Does the wide pool blocking the entrance remind anyone of anything?

It's just a moat.

Any other comments about these passages?

I should answer squire's question, but will in response to his post.




"Like The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit is a tale that grew in the telling, beginning as a children's fairy tale and evolving into the epic of fairy tales... The Gathering of the Clouds completes this transition. Unlike a typical children's story, the sides of good and evil are no longer clear-cut: the good peoples that we have been introduced to earlier are preparing to fight a war, and if that war happens, good people will die no matter who wins. Moreover, everyone, the good guys included, have character flaws that bring this situation about... and it is hinted that although the Dragon's body may be dead, his evil will remains to corrupt those who defeated him."
- Beren IV



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


Curious
Half-elven


Oct 18 2012, 4:00pm

Post #4 of 6 (115 views)
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Bilbo doesn't see it that way. [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Does anyone want to defend Thorin's reaction?

...what is there to defend? Do you think the sentiment of resisting two armies coming to plunder all your possessions is so wrong? And why so?


So the answer is yes.

Don't you think Tolkien is trying to show Thorin in a bad light? I mean, Bilbo does not approve of Thorin's reaction, the old raven gave very different advice, and whatever the failings of the Elvenking or the Master of Lake-town may be, don't the dwarves owe Bard something -- quite a bit, in fact -- for killing Smaug? We find out later that Gandalf does not like Thorin's reaction. Maybe it hasn't reached the tipping point yet -- there's nothing wrong with taking defensive measures then negotiating from a position of strength -- but Thorin doesn't show any inclination to negotiate, now or later. And in the end, he apologizes to Bilbo and expresses regret. It seems to me that Tolkien is rather heavy handed about his opinions, in fact. As you say, Tolkien wanted to make the point that "
greed can drive good people to do bad things."

Yet it's quite true that the Elvenking and the Master of Lake-town also have their faults, and the Master in particular cannot be trusted. So it's not that I object to building a wall across the opening and sending for armed relatives -- that might be sensible, particularly because the elves and the humans are not the only creatures who might come treasure hunting, although no one seems conscious of that. It's more the language Thorin uses that troubles me, quickly speaking of Bard, the killer of Smaug, as just another violent thief, instead of expressing any gratitude at all, or any desire to give him a reward.


Quote
As both squire and myself pointed out, those who arrived at the Mountain did seem surprised by the new wall. I take it that Bard was truthful, and really didn't know Thorin was alive yet (although his joy at the tidings might not have been completely genuine).

I am perplexed by this fact. Why doesn't the Elvenking speak to sentient birds? Why doesn't the thrush continue to speak with Bard? Is it just an oversight by Tolkien? However, it's a minor point, I admit.


Quote
And some time ago, a thoughtful member of this forum suggested that the Master actually gave them provisions past their expiration date (answer 5).


You got me!





(This post was edited by Curious on Oct 18 2012, 4:02pm)


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Oct 19 2012, 5:10pm

Post #5 of 6 (119 views)
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"Does anyone want to defend Thorinís reaction?" [In reply to] Can't Post

Dragon Sickness is like that... Thorin had displayed a [at times bitter] sense of entitlement before, but now his complete inability to acknowledge his debt to whomever disposed of Smaug (and their great losses) nudged this sense of entitlement towards full blown megalomania. That is either a brain fart or the effect of Dragon Sickness.

I suppose too it doesn't help that he and his fellow dwarves believe Thorin to be the subject of prophecy:

Under the Mountain dark and tall
The King has come unto his hall!
His foe is dead, the Worm of Dread,
And ever so his foes shall fall.


Interestingly, the similar song the dwarves sung back at Bag-end included both elves and men, but their new song does not. Unlike in the original, that the treasure was made for kings and elves is forgotten, as is the suffering visited upon men when Smaug came to Erebor.

No one who is great and/or sound of mind suddenly forgets the role of others in their success. Something has definitely seized Thorin here.


(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Oct 19 2012, 5:12pm)


Curious
Half-elven


Oct 22 2012, 7:31pm

Post #6 of 6 (213 views)
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Thoughts. [In reply to] Can't Post

How would dwarves reward sentient ravens?

Well, they gave the King of the Eagles a golden crown. Perhaps with food, perhaps with shiny things. They apparently work cheap.

Does anyone want to defend Thorinís reaction?

Not me. All the defenses of Thorin's actions sound to me like attacks on the Elvenking, and on Bard for allying himself with the Elvenking. Two wrongs do not make a right. Maybe it's also a reaction to the narrator's clear bias, which does not seem entirely justified. But there are so many ways Thorin could have handled it better.

Did the thrush let Bard know what the dwarves were doing? Why or why not?

Again, the thrush's actions are so selective that I see it more as an instrument of providence or the Higher Powers than as a reliable ally.

Why wasn't the adventure over, properly speaking? Why didn't Tolkien just wind things up quickly? What point is he trying to make?

Perhaps he wants Bilbo to have another moment on the stage, as he tries to use the Arkenstone to settle the dispute. And that is an interesting moral dilemma. But ultimately Bilbo's gesture would not have prevented conflict between the free peoples -- only the goblin army united them against a common enemy. I think the Battle of Five Armies is a brilliant surprise ending to a surprise denouement. The problem is the disconnect with the first half of the book. Tolkien doesn't lay the groundwork for this epic battle the way he does in LotR. Bilbo doesn't even take part. Tolkien remedies that in LotR.

The tools are still in good shape? How so? Why havenít they rusted?

Magic, I suppose.

What was Bilbo thinking while the dwarves were fortifying the entrance? What was he doing?

Maybe he was in a corner secretly looking at the Arkenstone. Maybe he went exploring. Maybe he watched and learned. Whatever he did, he likely stayed out of the way of the dwarves and hoped for the best.

How did the dwarves go about building a stone wall so quickly? How strong would the hastily-built wall have been?

Well, as we see later, it could be knocked down with some good levers. But I'm okay with the ability of dwarves to build stone walls. It's a handy skill. I remember that in the Civil War soldiers quickly learned to build dirt walls over night, and many of those battlefield walls are still standing today.

Are other birds bringing the Elvenking constant tidings, or Bard? Why or why not?


I guess I did ask this before, but it's just interesting to me that they apparently didn't. Again, maybe they just failed to ask -- but if so, that's a pretty bad failure.

Come to think about it, why didn't the ravens or thrush or someone tell everyone about the approaching goblins? Oh, that's right, the goblins stayed underground as long as possible. But surely they could have gotten some advance warning, no? What, did they pop out of the ground a mile away? I don't have an answer for that.

Where did they get their cram? It didnít come from Lake-town, did it? Didnít they lose all their other supplies when they were captured by the elves?

It did come from Laketown, I forgot. Sorry.

Where did they get their ladders? If they made them, what did they use for materials? Isnít the area barren?

I guess Smaug didn't burn up all the ladders.

Does the wide pool blocking the entrance remind anyone of anything?

The entrance to Moria. No giant tentacles, though.

Any other comments about these passages?

No.




 
 

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