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The Last Stage, part II - "And back again"

sador
Half-elven


Nov 13 2012, 4:02pm

Post #1 of 13 (1236 views)
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The Last Stage, part II - "And back again" Can't Post

(Thanks to Magpie's invaluable assistance, I am finally posting)

* * *


The Hobbit is subtitled There and Back Again. Well, now we're back.


Quote
As all things come to an end, even this story, a day came at last when they were in sight of the country where Bilbo had been born and bred, where the shapes of the land and of the trees were as well known to him as his hands and toes.


"Even this story" – Heh! Is this interjection for the benefit of a father telling a story to his children?
How well do you know your hands and toes?
In the first chapter we have learned that Bilbo "loved maps, and in his hall there hung a large one of the Country Round with all his favourite walks marked on it in red ink".
Are they back in this territory? How large is it? Sam Gamgge know the country a day's walk from home pretty well. Are they now within a day's walk from Bag-end?


As Bilbo sees his own Hill in the distance (shades of Beorn?), he does the ultimate unexpected thing: he improvises a poem! Even Gandalf acts surprised.

However, Bilbo is in for a greater surprise: he arrives home in the middle of an auction – of his own belongings! Clearly, disappearing for a year is tantamount to dying.
Well, Bilbo is still hobbit-like enough: he is annoyed with people not wiping their feet on the mat, for instance. A few points which strike me in Tolkien's account of this event:
  1. The large notice on the gate. Did Bilbo miss this? Or did he realize what was going on before actually meeting the people? Or must we assume a different path, going across the fields – like Bag-End has in The Lord of the Rings?
  2. Another date – June the twenty-second! Was this exactly a year after leaving Rivendell? Or does it have to do with the beginning of the summer vacations? Did it inspire in any way the future importance of the twenty-second of December?
  3. Messrs. Grubb, Grubb, and Burrowes. Who appointed them? What would they do with the money they received? And what do their names mean?
  4. Sale to commence at ten o'clock sharp - However, Bilbo was nearly late to his eleven o'clock appointment in Bywater (Roast Mutton). Was Bilbo, as an old bachelor, given to sleeping late – even for his countrymen? Does this justify Bofur's slur of "lazybones" (Queer Lodgings)? Once again – does this measurement of time signify a return to the civilized Shire?
  5. …most of the things had already been sold, for various prices from next to nothing to old songs (as is not unusual at auctions). - I love the pharse "to old songs". What does it mean? Did Tolkien coin it? See here.

The Sackville-Bagginses deserve a longer look. As Tom Shippey points out, the name "Sackville" is a frenchified form of "Bag End". From this he jumps to the conclusion that this junior branch of the Baggins family were incessant social climbers, a trait they will develop to horrendous proportions in The Lord of the Rings.
Do you agree? If this social climbing, what shall we say of the late Bungo marrying one of the famous daughters of the Old Took – a mere attraction to her glamour?
Anyway, I do love the name. According to The History of the Hobbit, the original name of Bilbo's scheming cousins was "Allibone-Baggins" – any meaning to that name?
And then, the spoons. Is this likely, for a young couple of social climbers, to steal their cousins silverware? Or is it more likely for a grumpy rich relative to suspect them? in short, do you think Otho and Lobelia guilty or not?



Quote
In short Bilbo was "Presumed Dead," and not everybody that said so was sorry
to find the presumption wrong.


Hmm… this sounds familiar. Does this ring any bells?

One last thing, regarding a quote from Flight to the Ford:

Quote
… said Merry. 'That must have been the stone that marked the place where the trolls' gold was hidden. How much is left of Bilbo's share, I wonder, Frodo?'
Frodo looked at the stone… 'None at all,' he said. 'Bilbo gave it all away. He told me that he did not feel it was really his, as it came from robbers.'

But surely, Bilbo could use it to buy back his furniture! Wouldn't that be poetic justice?
But is there any indication of Bilbo's scruples in our book? After all, he was hired to steal treasure – and it's not as if Smaug got his hoard honestly! (and had he done so, it would have been infinitely worse) Why did he keep Smaug's treasure (even giving the last of it to Sam for Rosie), but not the trolls'?

* * *



Quote
Indeed Bilbo found he had lost more than spoons - he had lost his reputation. It is true that for ever after he remained an elf-friend, and had the honour of dwarves, wizards, and all such folk as ever passed that way; but he was no longer quite respectable.


So now we come at last to the question: What exactly has Bilbo gained from his adventure? Was it worth losing his reputation?



Quote
I am sorry to say he did not mind. He was quite content… and though few believed any of his tales, he remained very happy to the end of his days, and those were extraordinarily long.


Is the narrator really sorry? Are we supposed to be?


When pressed for a sequel, Tolkien found this last sentence a liability (Letter 31, to Charles Furth), as he could not find a way of having Bilbo go on another adventure without contradicting it; eventually, he settled down on the adventure happening to Bilbo's heir, with the ending "and he/they lived happily ever after" as a recurring theme, of how tales are supposed to end.
Is it an unsurmountable obsatacle? Or does it leave the opening for further adventures of Bilbo's?

I have omitted the description of how Bilbo disposed of his material gains on purpose, as they belong to a separate thread – and as I wanted to get to the end of this chapter on time.
For this is the end of the chapter, don't you think? The last seven paragraphs are a sort of epilogue, nothing but tying up a few loose ends. No?
Well, unless they contribute something to the understanding of the whole book… but that's for a later thread.




I'll try to post the first of the three thematic threads tomorrow.



"As all things come to an end, even this story..."

Here we read of Bilbo, who is “quiet and drowsy”, that “every now and again he would open one eye” and listen to Gandalf’s tale. Is Tolkien deliberately echoing this passage in LOTR when he writes, “At that Bilbo opened an eye, almost as if he had heard … ‘You see, I am getting so sleepy’, he said.”?
- N.E. Brigand



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


FarFromHome
Valinor


Nov 15 2012, 10:53am

Post #2 of 13 (298 views)
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A few answers [In reply to] Can't Post

"Even this story" [comes to an end] – Heh! Is this interjection for the benefit of a father telling a story to his children?

Actually, I think it's just meant to tell the reader that the end of the tale is coming up, and to be ready for the tying up of loose ends and the arrival "back again" as Bilbo's story comes full circle.

How well do you know your hands and toes?

Well, according to the old saying we're supposed to know the back of our hands particularly well, although it's not something one often gets to test! Hobbits would obviously be expected to know their toes a lot better than we would...

Are they back in this territory [the Country Round]? How large is it? Sam Gamgge know the country a day's walk from home pretty well. Are they now within a day's walk from Bag-end?

Since Bilbo seems to be sufficiently well-to-do to afford a pony (and cart too, if needed), he might be expected to be familiar with a wider circle of country than Sam. With later knowledge from LotR, we might assume that he visited far-flung relatives at times, and presumably he would "drive" (as Frodo calls it, to many modern readers' amusement) when he had a long trip to take. (Even the map of the Country Round with Bilbo's favourite walks could conceivably include walks starting from, say, Great Smials or Brandy Hall. These don't exist at the moment, of course, in terms of The Hobbit, but the potential for them is there in the gaps in our information. And even in The Hobbit we do learn that he has relatives - although they're not the ones he'd be most likely to be on visiting terms with him, it's true!)

  • The large notice on the gate. Did Bilbo miss this? Or did he realize what was going on before actually meeting the people? Or must we assume a different path, going across the fields – like Bag-End has in The Lord of the Rings?

  • I don't get the impression he missed the notice, but it does sound as if the gate is very close to the front door so that he takes in the whole scene at once.

  • Another date – June the twenty-second! Was this exactly a year after leaving Rivendell? Or does it have to do with the beginning of the summer vacations? Did it inspire in any way the future importance of the twenty-second of December?

  • It's around these dates (in the modern calendar anyway) that the summer and winter solstices occur. I recall that we've talked about the idea of "quarter days" too, which roughtly correspond to the two solstices and two equinoxes, in Tolkien's choice of meaningful dates. But I'm not sure about this one - it sounds like it's just meant to tell us that Bilbo is back in the rigid, date-specific, legalistic and hidebound world of home!

  • Messrs. Grubb, Grubb, and Burrowes. Who appointed them? What would they do with the money they received? And what do their names mean?

  • Well, if we wanted to fill in the blanks, I'd say that the Sackville-Bagginses, and possibly a few nosy neighbours, would have gone to appeal to the "authorities" - the mayor's office, possibly? - to report this unimaginably strange event, of someone being away for a year, and have Bilbo declared legally dead. The authorities would have appointed the solicitors, no doubt, although maybe they would have allowed Bilbo's relatives to take charge. The money they received would go to Bilbo's heirs, presumably, although as the story tells us poor old Bilbo's stuff was going for "next to nothing". The Sackville-Bagginses only really wanted Bag End itself, plus some of the good stuff, such as the spoons, that they apparently managed to hold onto even after Bilbo came home.

    Grubb, Grubb and Burrowes sound exactly like the traditional family firm of solicitors so common in England (the repeated name being a son or other relative of the founder, whose name comes first). "Grubb" is meant to make us think of the verb "to grub", meaning to dig, I'm sure, not the insect type of grub (although there may be a hint of that too, come to think of it!). These seem to be the first of the "natural" names, referring to the hobbit proclivity for digging holes to live in, that are listed in LotR (At the Sign of the Prancing Pony): "Banks, Brockhouse, Longholes, Sandheaver, and Tunnelly.... There were several Underhills..."

  • Sale to commence at ten o'clock sharp - However, Bilbo was nearly late to his eleven o'clock appointment in Bywater (Roast Mutton). Was Bilbo, as an old bachelor, given to sleeping late – even for his countrymen? Does this justify Bofur's slur of "lazybones" (Queer Lodgings)? Once again – does this measurement of time signify a return to the civilized Shire?

  • He was late because he'd been up very late the night before, and then spent ages cleaning up after the party. I'm sure he was usually up well before 11. He seems to have been up and breakfasted and catching up on reading his correspondence bright and early on the day we first meet him. As for Bofur's "slur", it sounds more like a typical bit of thoughtless banter to me - and in fact, since we know that Bilbo was awake in the night and aware of something strange and magical going on while presumably the dwarves slept through it, it sounds like an ignorant and unjustified comment on the whole!

    The precision of the time (especially the "sharp") tells us we're back in the land of legal niceties, I think - indeed back where Bilbo was at the start of his trip!

  • …most of the things had already been sold, for various prices from next to nothing to old songs (as is not unusual at auctions). - I love the pharse "to old songs". What does it mean? Did Tolkien coin it? See here.

  • No, no way he coined it (although I can't seem to open your link) - "going for a song" is a very well-known expression that Tolkien is riffing off. I agree with you it's a very neat little phrase that sums up so much - including the fact that "old songs", which are so important to Tolkien (and now to Bilbo and the reader) are assumed to have no value in the shallowly materialistic Shire. It also echoes exactly the kind of conversation that would have been going on amongst the Shire-folk as they compared their bargains!

    (Whew! I'm out of practice answering these long and challenging posts! I'll leave it here for now...)

    They went in, and Sam shut the door.
    But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
    deep and unstilled,
    the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
    From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



    sador
    Half-elven


    Nov 15 2012, 4:21pm

    Post #3 of 13 (180 views)
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    Replying to your answers [In reply to] Can't Post


    In Reply To
    Since Bilbo seems to be sufficiently well-to-do to afford a pony (and cart too, if needed), he might be expected to be familiar with a wider circle of country than Sam. With later knowledge from LotR, we might assume that he visited far-flung relatives at times, and presumably he would "drive" (as Frodo calls it, to many modern readers' amusement) when he had a long trip to take.


    Yes, you're right. I didn't think of that.


    In Reply To
    It's around these dates (in the modern calendar anyway) that the summer and winter solstices occur. I recall that we've talked about the idea of "quarter days" too, which roughtly correspond to the two solstices and two equinoxes, in Tolkien's choice of meaningful dates. But I'm not sure about this one - it sounds like it's just meant to tell us that Bilbo is back in the rigid, date-specific, legalistic and hidebound world of home!


    Yes; and it is probably the same as the 'Midsummer's Day' they spent in Rivendell, when Elrond read the Moon-letters, isn't it?
    What do you make of this connection? Is there a significance in the year which has passed between the events - or is this just for the sake of contrast, between the Elvish reckoning of days and ours? Or did Tolkien just love the solstice days, and this is purely coincidental?

    On our previous discussion, when one might have expected far more answers, someone would have been bound to point out that according to the Shire-reckoning, established in appendix D, June 22 was not on Midsummer's Day. But within The Hobbit, I am confident it is - and in a way, the Shire Calendar missed out on both this fine point in The Hobbit, and the importance of September 22 (by the way, my mention of December 22 was just a mistake).


    In Reply To
    "Grubb" is meant to make us think of the verb "to grub", meaning to dig, I'm sure, not the insect type of grub...


    So is the use of the word for 'food' just an Americanism?


    In Reply To
    He was late because he'd been up very late the night before, and then spent ages cleaning up after the party. I'm sure he was usually up well before 11. He seems to have been up and breakfasted and catching up on reading his correspondence bright and early on the day we first meet him.


    Okay. No unemployed bachelor's habits, then.


    In Reply To
    As for Bofur's "slur", it sounds more like a typical bit of thoughtless banter to me - and in fact, since we know that Bilbo was awake in the night and aware of something strange and magical going on while presumably the dwarves slept through it, it sounds like an ignorant and unjustified comment on the whole!


    Well yes, on that occasion you have a point - although we can't say none of the dwarves had heard the same.
    I was wondering whether this slur was based on the experiences of the whole journey, rather than just this one incident.


    In Reply To
    It also echoes exactly the kind of conversation that would have been going on amongst the Shire-folk as they compared their bargains!


    Excellent. Thank you!

    And the link is this: http://www.tolkienenglishglossary.com/index.html. Just a nice link for people who like this kind of stuff, which I've stumbled upon two weeks ago.


    In Reply To
    Whew! I'm out of practice answering these long and challenging posts!


    But you are doing brilliantly. Thank you!

    And as the trend seems to be against them, perhaps you should savour the experience...












    "As all things come to an end, even this story..."

    Here we read of Bilbo, who is “quiet and drowsy”, that “every now and again he would open one eye” and listen to Gandalf’s tale. Is Tolkien deliberately echoing this passage in LOTR when he writes, “At that Bilbo opened an eye, almost as if he had heard … ‘You see, I am getting so sleepy’, he said.”?
    - N.E. Brigand



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


    FarFromHome
    Valinor


    Nov 18 2012, 5:35pm

    Post #4 of 13 (158 views)
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    Replying to your reply and some more answers... [In reply to] Can't Post


    In Reply To
    So is the use of the word ['grub'] for 'food' just an Americanism?

    No, I think it's British English too, but I have to admit it never occurred to me as a meaning here. Not sure why, since love of food is certainly another hobbit trait that finds its way into their names (Bracegirdle, Bolger and so on). Perhaps it's because it's got the wrong tone - it doesn't seem like the kind of word a real lover of good food would use. It implies generic food intended just to satisfy hunger - a word an orc might use, perhaps, but not a fine upstanding family solicitor!

    While I'm here, let me try a couple more of your questions...


    In Reply To
    ...this junior branch of the Baggins family [Sackville-Bagginses] were incessant social climbers, a trait they will develop to horrendous proportions in The Lord of the Rings.
    Do you agree? If this social climbing, what shall we say of the late Bungo marrying one of the famous daughters of the Old Took – a mere attraction to her glamour?

    Well, for me the distinction is between true social status and merely "keeping up appearances". Marrying well is a sign of real social standing. Changing your name to something Frenchified (whether Sackville-Baggins or Bouquet) is a sign of something else altogether!


    In Reply To
    And then, the spoons. Is this likely, for a young couple of social climbers, to steal their cousins silverware? Or is it more likely for a grumpy rich relative to suspect them? in short, do you think Otho and Lobelia guilty or not?

    I'd say it's very likely, providing nobody knows about it. Like Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet), I'm sure they would love to be able to set a very impressive table for their guests. Although maybe Bilbo is just prejudiced against them because of their snobbery. There's no proof, so we can judge Bilbo's attitude for ourselves.

    Why did he keep Smaug's treasure (even giving the last of it to Sam for Rosie), but not the trolls'?

    Perhaps because he felt he'd earned Smaug's treasure, which was distributed as fairly as it could be in the end. He doesn't really even want to take any of the trolls' hoard, and seems to think it should be given to charity ("You had better take this, Gandalf. I daresay you can find a use for it"), which is often what people choose to do with rewards they don't feel they have earned.


    In Reply To
    So now we come at last to the question: What exactly has Bilbo gained from his adventure? Was it worth losing his reputation?

    One thing he's learned is that a reputation, in itself, means nothing! After all, that's what the S-B's want, respect that hasn't been earned. Bilbo has earned self-respect, I guess, and has found that knowing your own worth is so much better than trying to impress others.


    In Reply To
    I am sorry to say he did not mind [losing his reputation].
    Is the narrator really sorry? Are we supposed to be?

    No, the narrator is just rather puckishly expressing the attitude of "proper" middle-class hobbits. He's not at all sorry, and he doesn't expect us to be either! He's a grown-up winking subversively at his child-readers.


    In Reply To
    For this is the end of the chapter, don't you think? The last seven paragraphs are a sort of epilogue, nothing but tying up a few loose ends. No?

    Loose end yes, but there is the issue of the "memoirs". That framing device that so divides readers begins here. And telling us that the book is going to have "There and Back Again" as part of its title is surely intended to make the young reader turn to the cover of their copy of The Hobbit and go "hmm"...



    They went in, and Sam shut the door.
    But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
    deep and unstilled,
    the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
    From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



    sador
    Half-elven


    Nov 19 2012, 9:41am

    Post #5 of 13 (134 views)
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    I was hoping to avoid referencing BotR this week! [In reply to] Can't Post

    But it seems I have to...

    In Reply To

    it's got the wrong tone - it doesn't seem like the kind of word a real lover of good food would use. It implies generic food intended just to satisfy hunger - a word an orc might use, perhaps, but not a fine upstanding family solicitor!

    Or a boggie:

    Quote

    Out of earshot, Frito turned worriedly to Spam. "You don't think he knows anything," he whispered, "do you?"
    "Naw, Master Frito," said Spam, massaging his stomach. "Let's grab some grub!"





    In Reply To

    Marrying well is a sign of real social standing. Changing your name to something Frenchified (whether Sackville-Baggins or Bouquet) is a sign of something else altogether!

    Point taken.


    In Reply To
    He doesn't really even want to take any of the trolls' hoard, and seems to think it should be given to charity ("You had better take this, Gandalf. I daresay you can find a use for it"), which is often what people choose to do with rewards they don't feel they have earned.


    Yes. (speaking as a point in case)


    In Reply To
    Loose end yes, but there is the issue of the "memoirs". That framing device that so divides readers begins here.


    Well, but that isn't any part of the story. The story itself is over.




    "As all things come to an end, even this story..."

    Here we read of Bilbo, who is “quiet and drowsy”, that “every now and again he would open one eye” and listen to Gandalf’s tale. Is Tolkien deliberately echoing this passage in LOTR when he writes, “At that Bilbo opened an eye, almost as if he had heard … ‘You see, I am getting so sleepy’, he said.”?
    - N.E. Brigand



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


    telain
    Rohan

    Nov 19 2012, 4:09pm

    Post #6 of 13 (139 views)
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    I wish I had more time! [In reply to] Can't Post

    I'd love to delve into your posts a bit more, sador -- they are always so interesting!

    For me, Grub, Grub, and Burrowes is definitely "digging in the ground" ("burrowing" being the key clue.) I am not sure Grub is not in reference to the insect, since most are found burrowing in the ground -- and it may also reference a general distaste for those in the legal profession?


    CuriousG
    Valinor


    Nov 19 2012, 11:29pm

    Post #7 of 13 (196 views)
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    Counting the silver [In reply to] Can't Post

    FarFromHome gave answers more eloquent than I could, but I'll add a few here and there.


    In Reply To

    Anyway, I do love the name. According to The History of the Hobbit, the original name of Bilbo's scheming cousins was "Allibone-Baggins" – any meaning to that name?
    And then, the spoons. Is this likely, for a young couple of social climbers, to steal their cousins silverware? Or is it more likely for a grumpy rich relative to suspect them? in short, do you think Otho and Lobelia guilty or not?

    Guilty as charged. It's an old-fashioned saying that when you have unsavory guests (including relatives), that you have to count the silver after dinner to make sure they haven't stolen any. I think these climbers would stoop that low. After Bilbo gives away many things in his will, he leaves the remainder of the spoons to Lobelia, who resented the implication, but also took the spoons. She's greedy. In a bigger way, Lotho's greed was his downfall (if you count being eaten by Wormtongue a downfall; I do).

    I agree with FFH that Bungo was just making an advantageous marriage, not necessarily out of his league. I think it was fairly common among established aristocrats to try to elevate themselves to a higher rank and/or income level through advantageous marriages.


    Quote
    In short Bilbo was "Presumed Dead," and not everybody that said so was sorry to find the presumption wrong.
    Hmm… this sounds familiar. Does this ring any bells?

    Well, I'd say it's the opposite of how the Fellowship felt when they thought Frodo had been killed in Moria--they were quite happy to be wrong. Though when Frodo and the rest came back to the Shire, I think someone said they'd assumed they were dead and disappointed they weren't--Ted Sandyman, maybe?

    Why did he keep Smaug's treasure (even giving the last of it to Sam for Rosie), but not the trolls'?
    Excellent question, and I don't have a good answer, but that's never stopped me before. Maybe with Smaug's treasure, Bilbo felt he had enough money, and he didn't need anything extra. Or, maybe he felt that since he had some personal grief tied up in Smaug's hoard (he had become somewhat attached to Thorin, Fili, and Kili), that taking some of it was a way of remembering the dwarves. I suppose that's a stretch, though. Maybe it would be more accurate to say he'd sacrificed a lot more to get a chunk of Smaug's treasure and deserved a part of it, whereas he hadn't done much to earn the troll's treasure. And note that he didn't give up Sting, Thranduil put Orcrist on Thorin's grave, and Gandalf kept Glamdring, so not all of the troll's loot had to be given away or returned to Elves.

    What exactly has Bilbo gained from his adventure? Was it worth losing his reputation?
    FFH said it best; I'll just echo it since it was said so well. I did a book report on The Hobbit when I was 12 years old or so; all this stuff went over my head and my classmates', but we thought the wizard and dragon aspects were cool.

    Though Bilbo's return as an eccentric bachelor mirrors the much more melancholy fate of Frodo after his return from adventure. Bilbo was let off easy in comparison.

    The last seven paragraphs are a sort of epilogue, nothing but tying up a few loose ends. No?
    I suppose. But I like how his friendship with Balin endures, and that they are both more prosperous as a result of their difficult journey. And intentional or not, bringing up Balin again at the very end helps set the stage for Bilbo taking off in LOTR on his birthday. "Going to visit dwarves" suggests he's going to visit Balin and the other quest survivors, not just dwarves in general, and Bilbo concedes a certain sadness when he gives his account to Frodo in Rivendell that "old Balin had gone away." That, in turn, gives us readers a little more stake in Balin's death in Moria. After all, finding that Ori and Oin died there didn't affect me at all, but Balin was better developed as a character and friend of the family, so Frodo seems to have a personal stake in the disaster that befell the dwarf colony in Moria--it's not something that happened to mere strangers.


    sador
    Half-elven


    Nov 21 2012, 10:04am

    Post #8 of 13 (128 views)
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    So so I! [In reply to] Can't Post

    Anyway, I wonder about the "general distaste for those in the legal profession"; is there anything else in Tolkien to hint at this?

    "As all things come to an end, even this story..."

    Here we read of Bilbo, who is “quiet and drowsy”, that “every now and again he would open one eye” and listen to Gandalf’s tale. Is Tolkien deliberately echoing this passage in LOTR when he writes, “At that Bilbo opened an eye, almost as if he had heard … ‘You see, I am getting so sleepy’, he said.”?
    - N.E. Brigand



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


    sador
    Half-elven


    Nov 21 2012, 10:39am

    Post #9 of 13 (120 views)
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    Nobody rose to the bait... [In reply to] Can't Post


    In Reply To
    I'd say it's the opposite of how the Fellowship felt when they thought Frodo had been killed in Moria--they were quite happy to be wrong. Though when Frodo and the rest came back to the Shire, I think someone said they'd assumed they were dead and disappointed they weren't--Ted Sandyman, maybe?


    In The Gathering of the Clouds, Bard began his speech to Thorin by proclaiming his joy that the dwarf was still alive. Was he sincere?


    In Reply To
    Maybe it would be more accurate to say he'd sacrificed a lot more to get a chunk of Smaug's treasure and deserved a part of it, whereas he hadn't done much to earn the troll's treasure.


    I thought the answer is far simpler - he was promised a part of Smaug's hoard by the rightful owner. Whereas with the trolls - who knows where it came from, and who it really belongs to?


    In Reply To
    "Going to visit dwarves" suggests he's going to visit Balin and the other quest survivors, not just dwarves in general, and Bilbo concedes a certain sadness when he gives his account to Frodo in Rivendell that "old Balin had gone away."


    Excellent observation. Thank you!


    In Reply To

    After all, finding that Ori and Oin died there didn't affect me at all

    It did, in a way - the image of Ori recording the last stand of the dwarves is heartrending, and having Oin being taken by the Watcher (which we have encountered on the previous chapter) is quite shocking.
    On the other hand, Balin's death is announced at the end of A Journey in the Dark in a very dramatic way. And it is interesting how Gimli is shocked by Balin's death, but skips over learning of the fate which took his uncle.

    "As all things come to an end, even this story..."

    Here we read of Bilbo, who is “quiet and drowsy”, that “every now and again he would open one eye” and listen to Gandalf’s tale. Is Tolkien deliberately echoing this passage in LOTR when he writes, “At that Bilbo opened an eye, almost as if he had heard … ‘You see, I am getting so sleepy’, he said.”?
    - N.E. Brigand



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    dernwyn
    Forum Admin / Moderator


    Nov 25 2012, 2:56am

    Post #10 of 13 (101 views)
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    Ah, solicitors. [In reply to] Can't Post

    Grubbing for your money, burrowing into your accounts! Laugh This is a lovely bit of humour to let us know we are really and truly back in the "civilized" Shire.

    And Tolkien will express this "distaste" again in LotR, when Bilbo's Will "was, unfortunately, very clear and correct (according to the legal customs of hobbits, with demand among other things seven signatures of witnesses in red ink)."

    What a proper parody of "legalese"!


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

    "I desired dragons with a profound desire"






    dernwyn
    Forum Admin / Moderator


    Nov 25 2012, 3:14am

    Post #11 of 13 (162 views)
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    *raises eyebrows high* [In reply to] Can't Post


    Quote
    And it is interesting how Gimli is shocked by Balin's death, but skips over learning of the fate which took his uncle.


    Oh my, you're right, we aren't shown any particular reaction by Gimli when he learns of the horrid death of his own kin! An oversight on Tolkien's part, perhaps?


    Quote
    Bard began his speech to Thorin by proclaiming his joy that the dwarf was still alive. Was he sincere?


    What an intriguing question! Bard had previously expressed belief that Thorin and company were all dead, due to the dragon - and they very nearly were. Now, considering that Bard found them not only alive, but also entrenched in the Mountain as if expecting attack, his "glad you're alive" statement may have been meant more as a show of friendship than as a sign of relief.

    Although I do not doubt that if he had found them not expecting conflict, he would have given them a merry "Glad you're alive!" - quickly followed by "Now let's talk...".


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

    "I desired dragons with a profound desire"






    sador
    Half-elven


    Nov 25 2012, 9:08am

    Post #12 of 13 (124 views)
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    Well, yes [In reply to] Can't Post

    Bard did not expect to find Thorin alive. However, once he did, it took him another day to actually greet him, in the meantime moving his army as if to siege. So this was clearly not a spontanous sign of relief, and even the show of friendship was a preliminary to a list of demands. And of course, he had no way of knowing the dwarves fortified the Mountain against him - after all, in the Wild they could expect attack from many quarters (as happened pretty soon, with the goblin).
    What would have happened had Bard found them undefended? That's anyone's guess. You may be right, but there is also the possibility that he would have just captured the Mountain and took the whole treasure for himself, and even had he been reluctant to do so that some of his Men would have, and/or fall into fighting among themselves. Like Hurin's followers in The Nuaglafring (BoLT II).

    An intersting question which I haven't considered before is, did Thorin know Bard? Bilbo did (which I find rather sweet, conjuring up an image of the one person in Esgaroth actually noticing the poor sneezer - but no, the elf sentinels in A Thief at Night knew the dwarves had a hobbit), but did Thorin?
    It appears that he didn't know him by sight; however, I wonder if he knew that such a person, with a claim to be Girion's Heir, existed. It could be that Bard kept himself under the radar, and the Master probably had no interest in these two meeting; had they made an allaince (or fell out) back in Lake-town, the story might have been pretty different, don't you think?
    But the story is told entirely from Bilbo's POV - so we can't know.

    "As all things come to an end, even this story..."

    Here we read of Bilbo, who is “quiet and drowsy”, that “every now and again he would open one eye” and listen to Gandalf’s tale. Is Tolkien deliberately echoing this passage in LOTR when he writes, “At that Bilbo opened an eye, almost as if he had heard … ‘You see, I am getting so sleepy’, he said.”?
    - N.E. Brigand



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


    dernwyn
    Forum Admin / Moderator


    Nov 27 2012, 2:26am

    Post #13 of 13 (1166 views)
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    Heirs apparent [In reply to] Can't Post

    That's a good question. Here we have the two heirs of the leaders of the communities which were devastated by Smaug. Their ancestors knew one another well, we can assume. But had it ever occurred to Thorin that an heir to Dale would still survive - and had Bard ever considered that the heir of Erebor might one day return?

    We really don't know if Bilbo and Bard had met before the "Thief in the Night" adventure: the first we hear of Bard, he's sounding the alarm as Smaug flies towards the town. But I think you're right about Bard keeping a "low profile", especially considering how greedy and jealous the current Master was: no need to give him ideas about sending out the remnant of Dale to recover any treasure!

    Now, if Bard had made contact with Thorin, and offered an alliance of some type...hmmm...no, considering the demeanor of the Dwarves, I think Thorin would have insisted on this being a dwarf-only assault; and Bard would have found it difficult to gather villagers willing to travel close to that Mountain.


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

    "I desired dragons with a profound desire"





     
     

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