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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
***The Hobbit Read-through: Ch. 2 - Roast Mutton
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noWizardme
Valinor


May 29, 5:02pm

Post #26 of 44 (2169 views)
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Imagine the mess at Bag End [In reply to] Can't Post

In our Ch1 discussion, Murlo recently posted the point that it is just as well the dwarves emptied Bilbo's pantry - he's about to leave his house unattended for a year ( see http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=945378#945378 )

That had me wondering - Bilbo is interrupted on the point of second breakfast and rushes out of the house and is later followed by Gandalf with some items Bilbo left behind, including (humorously) pocket handkerchiefs. Either Gandalf tidied up (he might like to get Bilbo far away before people in the Shire miss him), or Bilbo's abandoned second breakfast is going to be smelling mighty fine by now...

As far as I remember, the pocket handkerchiefs aren't mentioned again - it might have been funny of they somehow turned out to be essential on campaign...

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


Darkstone
Immortal


May 29, 8:33pm

Post #27 of 44 (2165 views)
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"Bolted into the army: July 1915" [In reply to] Can't Post

Now the journey begins in earnest, with our little furry-footed hero sleeping in late. What do you make of Gandalf's kick-in-the-pants to jumpstart Bilbo's adventure? A little cruel, no?

It’s like Gandalf is deliberately keeping Bilbo confused and not giving him time to think. Kinda like Bugs Bunny convincing Elmer Fudd to pack up and leave his own house.


I just found myself on the wiki for British recruitment in WWI, and this quote stood out: "The [Parliamentary Recruiting] Committees appointed canvassers who were 'tactful and influential men' not liable for service, many were experienced political agents. Discharged veterans and fathers of serving men proved most effective. A few canvassers threatened rather than cajoled." Sound familiar?

Definitely to Tolkien:

…and then war broke out the next year, while I still had a year to go at college. In those days chaps joined up, or were scorned publicly. It was a nasty cleft to be in, especially for a young man with too much imagination and little physical courage. No degree: no money: fiancée. I endured the obloquy, and hints becoming outspoken from relatives, stayed up, and produced a First in Finals in 1915. Bolted into the army: July 1915.
-Letter #43


What other observations do you make about the start of this particular adventure?

I’ve often thought of The Hobbit as being somewhat of a comedy of manners, albeit including the manners of Dwarves and Dragons. In the end Bilbo seems to be roped in because of social obligation.


Any other books/tales that come to mind?

“Alderaan? I'm not going to Alderaan. I've got to go home. It's late, I'm in for it as it is.”

"That wand's more trouble than it's worth. And quite honestly, I've had enough trouble for a lifetime."

“We're not heroes.” “We're from Finchley!” (Though that’s from the movie, not the book.)


For the lawyers (and non-lawyers) in the room, do you have any thoughts on Thorin's message on the mantelpiece?

Actually Gandalf only says Thorin wrote it.


Aside from the choice to leave it there in the first place!

Actually Gandalf seemed to have produced it from his pocket.


Do the terms seem fair to you?

Old lawyer saying: “The smaller the contract, the bigger the loopholes”.


I'm struck by this chapter's quick, efficient prose and how it introduces the episodic structure of the rest of the book.

No wonder Tolkien liked Asimov.


What are your thoughts on this style so far?

About right for a bedtime story for kids.


Is it too sparsely-detailed for your liking?

It’s missing Tolkien’s favorite character. In LOTR Tolkien waxes eloquently and endlessly over it: Middle-earth.


It makes me wonder if JRRT could've had success as a screenwriter, given its snappy pace.

He would be as director Billy Wilder described F. Scott Fitzgerald: “a great sculptor who is hired to do a plumbing job”.


And lo and behold, we meet Tom, Bert and William, as well as Tolkien's finest creation (according to DanielLB, if he's lurking about): the Talking Purse.

Personally I like the Tra-la-la-lally Elves. Elves are not Vulcans!


In all seriousness, I find it odd that the dwarves approach the fire in pairs/small groups, especially since Bilbo didn't come back or make owl noises. Why not attack them as a larger unit? Am I missing something?

By the turn of the 20th century actions in colonial fighting had solidified British military tactics in the utilization of units in “penny-packets”. This doctrine led to serious setbacks in the beginning battles of 1914 where a larger operational sense was needed, culminating in massive frontal attacks which resulted to terrible disaster in the later battles of 1916. One might argue it was best that the Dwarves ventured out two by two so they could be leisurely captured by the trolls. If they had had attacked en masse the trolls probably would have been forced to slaughter them.

In the end the lesson is no matter how dark or rainy the night, ignore the bright light and stay in your foxhole.


I'll be the ignorant American and ask the question: is that really a Cockney accent, or is it something else?

I’ve heard it’s based on the enlisted men’s accents of Tolkien’s own Lancashire Fusiliers which was based in Bury so it’s more Mancunian than Cockney. Then again someone else said it was a Bristle accent so what do I know?


Perhaps you feel this is obvious, but what do you think is motivating Bilbo to continue on the journey by the end of this chapter?

I’ve always thought what motivates Bilbo is British manners, which is why, as I said earlier, I see the book as a comedy of manners.


There are plenty of other topics to discuss, so I'll leave it at that and open up discussion to the rest of the group. Please ask the obvious questions I neglected to ask, or the astute, perceptive ones I'll wish I had asked!

What were those “old castles with an evil look, as if they had been built by wicked people”?

Who were those “two of Elrond’s people” Gandalf met on the road who “were hurrying along for fear of the trolls”? (I assume they weren’t Glorfindel and Gildor or Elladan and Elrohir.)

******************************************
“Did you say 'You Shall Not Pass' or 'You Shall Not Sass'?" asked the Balrog.

"I said 'You Shall Not Pass,'” replied Gandalf; "and I wish you wouldn't keep appearing and vanishing so suddenly: you make one quite giddy."

"All right," said the Balrog; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of its wings, and ending with its shadow, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.

'Well! I've often seen wings without a Balrog,' thought Gandalf; `but a Balrog without wings! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!’

-The Adventures of Gandalf in Middle-earth Land




Meneldor
Valinor


May 29, 10:17pm

Post #28 of 44 (2151 views)
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In my headcanon, Gandalf accomplished the cleanup [In reply to] Can't Post

by casting a spell on a broom so that it could carry buckets and do the mopping-up. What could possibly go wrong with such a simple spell?


They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters, these see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep. -Psalm 107


No One in Particular
Rivendell


May 30, 1:14am

Post #29 of 44 (2154 views)
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Old Arnor... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

What were those “old castles with an evil look, as if they had been built by wicked people”?

Who were those “two of Elrond’s people” Gandalf met on the road who “were hurrying along for fear of the trolls”? (I assume they weren’t Glorfindel and Gildor or Elladan and Elrohir.)



It's years beyond count (well, not really, but I love that phrase!) since the north kingdoms fell. All we ever hear of building castles and things are Elves and Dunedain, but there could have been any number of attempts to "settle" those wild lands during those long, dark times, attempts that began with building castles or small communities and ended in tragedy, with it all happening completely unknown and forgotten to later generations. Or I suppose they could have been ruins and fortifications of old Cardolan or Rhudaurl.

Agreed, Glorfindel, Elladan, or Elrohir would probably not have been unduly alarmed by the trolls at all. And Legolas, of course could shield-surf circles around them. Smile But any other small group of Elrond's people would fit the bill nicely.

While you live, shine
Have no grief at all
Life exists only for a short while
And time demands an end.
Seikilos Epitaph

(This post was edited by No One in Particular on May 30, 1:15am)


cats16
Valinor


May 30, 3:54am

Post #30 of 44 (2134 views)
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Today in Middle-earth [In reply to] Can't Post

Worth mentioning that, per gramma's wonderful TIME post on the Main board, the Company's encounter with the Trolls occurred on this day (May 29th).

Join us every weekend in the Hobbit movie forum for this week's CHOW (Chapter of the Week) discussion!




cats16
Valinor


May 30, 4:01am

Post #31 of 44 (2129 views)
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The thrill of it [In reply to] Can't Post

By the end of the chapter I get the impression Bilbo is a little taken by the thrill of it all. Nothing I can really quote from to support that, so I won't say it's based on a close reading. He immediately pipes up (excitement?) when Gandalf brings up Rivendell, finds a sword of his own (a momentous moment I neglected to bring up initially!) and has a wizard who saves the day before anything bad happens.

Join us every weekend in the Hobbit movie forum for this week's CHOW (Chapter of the Week) discussion!




Darkstone
Immortal


May 30, 1:06pm

Post #32 of 44 (2098 views)
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And Star Wars [In reply to] Can't Post

I *knew* The Notion Club Papers was based on fact.

******************************************
“Did you say 'You Shall Not Pass' or 'You Shall Not Sass'?" asked the Balrog.

"I said 'You Shall Not Pass,'” replied Gandalf; "and I wish you wouldn't keep appearing and vanishing so suddenly: you make one quite giddy."

"All right," said the Balrog; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of its wings, and ending with its shadow, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.

'Well! I've often seen wings without a Balrog,' thought Gandalf; `but a Balrog without wings! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!’

-The Adventures of Gandalf in Middle-earth Land




sador
Half-elven


May 30, 7:57pm

Post #33 of 44 (2055 views)
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Rhudaur. [In reply to] Can't Post

Cardolan was farther to the south and west, and did not fall under the influence of Angmar, but was rather overrun by it.

(Of course, Tolkien wrote this history twenty years after The Hobbit was published; but I wonder if he renembered those castles when he wrote the larger history)


And I'm not sure tge two of Elrond's people were just two idle loafers - journeying so far away in the dead of night (after all, in daytime there was no danger) does not seem like something just any elf would do.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


May 31, 12:19am

Post #34 of 44 (2040 views)
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Elves in the Night [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
And I'm not sure tge two of Elrond's people were just two idle loafers - journeying so far away in the dead of night (after all, in daytime there was no danger) does not seem like something just any elf would do.


Actually Elves loved and preferred to travel by night under the stars. That is one reason why Hobbits seldom saw them traveling through their lands.

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock


sador
Half-elven


May 31, 5:51pm

Post #35 of 44 (1977 views)
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That is true. [In reply to] Can't Post

However, Gildor spoke of the wandering companies. Did ordinary elves venture so far from home in pairs?

Nevertheless, I stand corrected. Thank you!


sador
Half-elven


May 31, 6:36pm

Post #36 of 44 (1978 views)
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"And it appears to be a long... time, before the dawn" [In reply to] Can't Post

What do you make of Gandalf's kick-in-the-pants to jumpstart Bilbo's adventure?
Very funny.

A little cruel, no?
Not really. Just pressuring him to decide at once, and leaving no time to argue. The best part is him trying to make Bilbo feel guilty by pointing out that he hadn't dusted the mantelpiece - and thatone didn't work!

Sound familiar?
I think the navy press-gangs were pretty bad, too.

What other observations do you make about the start of this particular adventure?
What in Middle-earth is the second eldest member of the group doing as a look-out? I know he does it later in the book, but it still makes no sense.

For the lawyers (and non-lawyers) in the room, do you have any thoughts on Thorin's message on the mantelpiece?
I love the bit about funeral expenses to be defrayed "if occasion arises and the matter is not otherwise arranged for".
What do you think that means? Incarceration, or being eaten?

Aside from the choice to leave it there in the first place!
Gandalf told Thorin to leave it there. He probably anticipated Bilbo not getiing around to dusting the mantelpiece - so he could manipulate him afterwards.
Had Bilbo seen it, he would have had time to think - and would stay at home.

Do the terms seem fair to you?
Dividing the treasure eaually leave nothing for Royalty. Is Thorin really co-equal?
Of course, Bilbo has no sense of how much this actually is. And never thought of how to get it home, of anywhere - as Smaug would shrewdly point out later.
But why would Smaug suspect Bilbo's share was one fourteenth? Is that the going rate for burglars?

What are your thoughts on this style so far?
In a previous discussion, I called it a picaresque. Which plants Tolkien firmly in English literary tradition - that of Fielding, and some of the early Dickens books.
Just think of Bilbo as Tom Thumb! (Joseph Andrews would be far worse)

Is it too sparsely-detailed for your liking?
I just note that in the picaresue part of the book (up to A Warm Welcome), this is the only chapter with no poetry.
However, songs are mentioned - at the beginning of the journey, and then when they come to "lands where people spoke strangely, and sang songs Bilbo had never heard before".
This seems to indicate a diffent pronounciation, not a different language.

It makes me wonder if JRRT could've had success as a screenwriter, given its snappy pace.
And then you read LotR, and realise the answer is no.

And lo and behold, we meet Tom, Bert and William, as well as Tolkien's finest creation (according to DanielLB, if he's lurking about): the Talking Purse.
The Purse sounds pretty much like the trolls do. Shouldn't purses belong to a higher class?

In all seriousness, I find it odd that the dwarves approach the fire in pairs/small groups, especially since Bilbo didn't come back or make owl noises. Why not attack them as a larger unit?
They are playing at Boy Scouts (or Dwarf Scouts, actually).

Am I missing something?
Probably.
But so are the rest of us, so don't worry.

I'll be the ignorant American and ask the question: is that really a Cockney accent, or is it something else?
Being the super-ignorant non-native English speaker, I don't know.

Perhaps you feel this is obvious, but what do you think is motivating Bilbo to continue on the journey by the end of this chapter?
What alternative does he have? He will never get home by himself.
This question seems to belong better in the next chapter.

There are plenty of other topics to discuss, so I'll leave it at that and open up discussion to the rest of the group. Please ask the obvious questions I neglected to ask, or the astute, perceptive ones I'll wish I had asked!
I'll think of a couple. But in a different post.



Otaku-sempai
Immortal


May 31, 10:42pm

Post #37 of 44 (1955 views)
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Far? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
However, Gildor spoke of the wandering companies. Did ordinary elves venture so far from home in pairs?


Well, first, we don't know that these were just ordinary Elves (though, if they were then they were still ordinary High Elves who were probably several centuries old at least). They were apparently confident enough of their ability to handle potential trouble, or at least escape it.

Second, my best guess is that they were no more than two or three days out of Rivendell if they were mounted--not really all that far.

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock


sador
Half-elven


Jun 1, 6:33am

Post #38 of 44 (1958 views)
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Some additional questions: [In reply to] Can't Post

Just some which have occured to me, from the second part of the chapter:

"Yer can't expect folk to stop here for ever just to be et by you and Bert. You've eta village and a half between yer, since we come down from the mountains."
How many people would William consider "a village"?
I also note that trolls and hobbits (and in LotR, the Men of Bree) are the only folk who use family surnames. Are trolls that modern?
Also, the phrase "manflesh" occurs here first.


I really like the discussion of the different categories of burglars. Especially the line:
"Others more practical but with less professional pride would perhaps have stuck a dagger into each of them before they observed it".
But how does Bilbo know all of this? And doesn't this knowledge erect some kind of barrier between him and the reader?


"...trolls, as you probably know, must be underground before dawn"
Did you know that? I only knew of the trolls under the bridge before!
But it is a matter of technique for Tolkien to drop this kind of stuff, and pretend that we all ought to know it already.


And last - I note Bilbo's presence of mind to filch William's key from his pocket just in time. He is showing some promise as a burglar!
But why did he keep it secret?
The answer might be innocent enough - but later, he keeps both the ring (not yet The Ring, in this book) and the Arkenstone secret, until he feels he must reveal them. Is this a pattern?

By the way - do you think he kept his sword (Sting) secret as well - or did Gandalf and Thorin notice him taking it?


Just some extra points for consideration.

Thank you, cats 18, for leading us this week!




sador
Half-elven


Jun 1, 6:36am

Post #39 of 44 (1949 views)
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You forgot to mention! [In reply to] Can't Post

In this chapter, too:

"P'raps there are more like him round about, and we might make a pie," said Bert.


noWizardme
Valinor


Jun 1, 9:20am

Post #40 of 44 (1946 views)
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different categories of burglars [In reply to] Can't Post

I like that too!


In Reply To
I really like the discussion of the different categories of burglars. Especially the line:
"Others more practical but with less professional pride would perhaps have stuck a dagger into each of them before they observed it".
But how does Bilbo know all of this? And doesn't this knowledge erect some kind of barrier between him and the reader?

"...trolls, as you probably know, must be underground before dawn"
Did you know that? I only knew of the trolls under the bridge before!
But it is a matter of technique for Tolkien to drop this kind of stuff, and pretend that we all ought to know it already.


I suppose that Bilbo's knowledge of burglars might be limited to whatever they do in stories he knows - as he's about to discover, reality isn't that simple.
Viewing the book as a piece of writing, I think this is the 'avuncular narrator' talking to us - with a bit of humour in respectable Bilbo (or respectable Prof. Tolkien) knowing about burglars. The narrator can also (as you say) drop all kinds of info, pretending that his reader will know it already. I wonder whether that's the intention where (later) the narrator points out a flaw in Bilbo's barrel escape plan and comments that no doubt readers will have seen the mistake already?

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 1, 9:35am

Post #41 of 44 (1949 views)
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Tolkien's Stone-trolls [In reply to] Can't Post

Bill might have had only a vague concept of the size of a village and might have meant no more than a couple of dozen folk or so, especially since the three Trolls are in a pretty sparsely inhabited region. Other than travelers, the Hill-men of Rhudaur, and the hidden enclaves of the Dúnedain, what Men live within striking distance of them?


In Reply To
I also note that trolls and hobbits (and in LotR, the Men of Bree) are the only folk who use family surnames. Are trolls that modern?


I wonder if this is a case of Bill putting on airs after meeting (and eating!) a traveling Bree-lander with a name similar to his own.


In Reply To
I really like the discussion of the different categories of burglars. Especially the line:
"Others more practical but with less professional pride would perhaps have stuck a dagger into each of them before they observed it".
But how does Bilbo know all of this? And doesn't this knowledge erect some kind of barrier between him and the reader?


Bilbo might not have known that at the time, except perhaps from old tales. It might be knowledge he gained later, or it might even be an addition by our narrator.


In Reply To
"...trolls, as you probably know, must be underground before dawn"
Did you know that? I only knew of the trolls under the bridge before!
But it is a matter of technique for Tolkien to drop this kind of stuff, and pretend that we all ought to know it already.


This seems to be the sort of narrative device used to make the listener/reader feel more clever than the hero, a not uncommon device in stories meant for children.


In Reply To
And last - I note Bilbo's presence of mind to filch William's key from his pocket just in time. He is showing some promise as a burglar!
But why did he keep it secret?


I don't think that this is meant to be indicative of a pattern of behavior on Bilbo's part except that he was flustered and distracted by the other events of the night and had completely forgotten about the key until the mention of the locked door. I don't remember any indication that Bilbo kept his elvish dagger a secret from the rest of the company.

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jun 1, 9:36am)


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Jun 4, 9:01pm

Post #42 of 44 (1887 views)
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I suppose that the trolls needed something to brush their teeth with! [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Jun 4, 9:03pm

Post #43 of 44 (1885 views)
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Yes [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm not sure if Bilbo ever reconciled the Took and Baggins parts of him.


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Jun 4, 9:07pm

Post #44 of 44 (1886 views)
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One thing that I think when reading this chapter [In reply to] Can't Post

Is that was relatively easy. If only all of the evil creatures in ME could have been treated like that. Wouldn't have made much of a story though, I suppose. Oh, and good call on the talking in the present sense of the narrator. I never noticed that before, or if I did I didn't think about it.

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