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* * * The Hobbit read-through: Chapter 7 - Queer Lodgings
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Roverandom
The Shire


Jul 1, 7:26am

Post #1 of 42 (2836 views)
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* * * The Hobbit read-through: Chapter 7 - Queer Lodgings Can't Post

Good Day and Welcome! I'll be your guide through the week to come and the next chapter of our continuing story.

It begins with Bilbo Baggins awakening from his dream of home, however disturbing it may have been, to the reality of the eagles' eyrie: queer enough lodgings in it's own right, but only a hint of what's in store. Bilbo and the Company are flown to a point far from the immediate peril of the mountains and set upon their way. Gandalf, after a short assessment of the situation during which he informs them that he is about to leave off their adventure, then guides them to the home of Beorn, a new character who, after the manner of Elrond before him, will eventually offer them assistance. The chapter ends forebodingly at the very eaves of Mirkwood, with the start of what the narrator calls "the most dangerous part of all the journey".

I'd like to begin with a discussion of the structure of the story so far. It seems to me that the action resembles a regular stair. Every chapter of rising tension is immediately followed by one of relative calm, a gathered breath before the next, more difficult, stage of the climb. Even the riddle game with Gollum is something of a respite between the manic events of Goblin Town and the even more terrifying combined threat of the goblins and wargs, the fire in the forest glade, and the moments in which even Gandalf (wizard though he was) became afraid. As we have come again to an odd-numbered chapter, we might presume to exhale. Should we? Does the author have a "tell"? If he does, is that a bad thing, given the type of story he has written and the audience for whom it may have been intended?

This is a very long chapter, tied for the longest, by page count, with the one which will follow. The author takes the opportunity to describe Beorn's home and surrounding realm, the "queer lodgings" of the title, in great detail. Carrocks, bee pastures of various species of clover, a great house beyond a thorny hedge: does that description create a vivid picture in your mind? Can you see the floor plan of the house? Does all this detail detract from the adventure or enhance it?

With regards to Beorn himself, he is presented to us as someone potentially dangerous. Given Gandalf's description of the man, were any of you overly concerned with the safety of the company? The trick of drawing Beorn in with a good, but often interrupted story, seems to work out just fine. It is also yet another chance for Gandalf to give us the roll-call of dwarves, and in much the same manner as they were introduced to Bilbo in the first chapter. Does the tactic serve to show us anything about Beorn's character that we couldn't have gotten otherwise? If so, why did the author then feel the need to tell us precisely how clever Gandalf had been in employing it? Doesn't he trust us to understand that point?

Lastly, what to make of Beorn? Is he a bear in the shape of a man or a man who can become a bear? Gandalf has his theory, but are we meant to take everything the wizard says at face-value? He won't be with us much longer, and both we and the Company will be without his reassurances for several chapters to come. Perhaps we, like Bilbo, need to work things out for ourselves. I'll leave you with this thought, and you can make of it what you will: since Beorn is the master of a small, well-defined realm and "under no enchantment but his own", is he, essentially, Tom Bombadil for the purposes of this story? Or, because he doesn't appear to be on anyone's side (except that he is firmly opposed to the goblins), is he the precursor to Treebeard?

For just as there has always been a Richard Webster, so too has there been a Black Scout of the North to greet him at the door on the sill of the evening and to guard him through his darkest dreams.


noWizardme
Valinor


Jul 1, 11:02am

Post #2 of 42 (2751 views)
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Ho Beorn Bear-at-night, Beorn Bear-at-night O! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for taking this chapter, and giving us a great introductory post, Roverandom! I'll respond to just one of your points for now, and leave the rest to others. Quite likely discussions will break out on many fronts....

The likeness between Beorn and Tom Bombadill also struck me, reading the chapter this week. The parallels are of course not exact, but in both cases our heroes stay with an enigmatic character who drops out of the story once the guests go outside their borders. People who want to know who or what Beorn is don't get much more answer than those wanting to know who or what Tom Bombadil is. And for me, nowadays, that is perfectly satisfactory: I don't require everything to be tidily explained. A while back we discussed the Stone Giants and suggested that they were the kind of genius loci character that perhaps dropped out of Tolkien's thoughts about Middle-earth during his later tidying-everything-up as the work of Eru phase. That's how I'm seeing Beorn - as a sort of manifestation of nature, and the nature of his particular place.

Reading it that way this time, I did not find Beorn's animal servants annoying and ridiculous. Previously I've seen them as regrettable whimsy; almost a lapse of taste ('get on and write your serious LOTR style, Professor, please - none of your dogs on hinds legs!'). But on this occasion I read a sort of Garden of Eden feel into the arrangement, and it felt oddly appropriate.

Besides , what are you not supposed to ask if you see a dog walking on its hind legs...?.

It all breaks down at night, of course, where the Mr Hyde side of Beorn is highly dangerous and best avoided. I liked that spin on the werewolf trope, though I suppose Beorn is a were-bear (thankfully not a Care Bear) - bears being one of the other animal forms into which berserking warriors would believe themselves changed, I beleive.

Lastly, I notice that this is not the first or last time a band of Tolkien 3rd age heroes will need re-equipping and protection or other support, and will have to talk their way into getting it. Not only Treebeard (who I agree is a bit Beorn like), but Gildor, Theoden (twice), Eomer, Faramir...
I notice that Tolkien often uses the opportunity to give us a new character, and maybe a wholly new kind of creature. I like that - it seems to me to add depth and interest when the plot purpose of re-equipping the party could presumably have been done much more easily (e.g. they arrive at the town of the woodmen, and buy stuff with the gold that it turns out they looted from the Goblin King). Nor can everyone be persuaded to help - as Thorin is going to find in Mirkwood.

~~~~~~
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

(This post was edited by noWizardme on Jul 1, 11:04am)


noWizardme
Valinor


Jul 1, 11:52am

Post #3 of 42 (2743 views)
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The poem: "The wind was on the withered heath" [In reply to] Can't Post

I was surprised to see the poem in this chapter - I had no memory of [it being in] this place, and I don't think I'd read it before. As a child reader I'd skip any poems that were more than a couple of verses - I don't claim that's a good way to behave!

This time I liked it. I like the way it sounds when read aloud (an important thing in a poem, I think).

I think it has the same structure as the song the dwarves sing at The Unexpected Party (but I'm not very good at these things). It seems that bith consist of 4-line verses. Each line has 8 beats, and the first pair pf lines in a verse rhyme. If it is the same, I suppose it could be imagined as being a different fragment of the same longer epic.

I notice that we've heard of 'the Withered Heath before, In Unexpected Party when Thorin says “And I know where Mirkwood is, and the Withered Heath where the great dragons bred.” So possibly the poem is about the coming of the dragon to Erebor, as much as a gust of wind. But I'm not convinced about that - the final verse has the wind going past Erebor and off 'over the wide seas of the night'. That doesn't seem to me to fit if the whole thing is supposed to be a metaphor for Smaug's attack.

The alternative is that dwarves don't only sing of mining, making and revenge!

By co-incidence or otherwise, the progress of the poem (down from the mountains, through the forest and to Erebor) follows the party's upcoming journey.

The poem's images of darkness, creepiness and destruction also seems to fit with the party's present situation - inside Beorn's house and told not to go outside into the dark.

If there is some hinting-at-the-background purpose (as there is, say when Aragorn tells some of the Lay of Luthien, or when Bilbo rhymes about Earendil) then, like the wind, it's gone over my head.

~~~~~~
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

(This post was edited by noWizardme on Jul 1, 12:01pm)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jul 1, 11:55am

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Beorn [In reply to] Can't Post

It's true, we don't learn much about Beorn's past in this chapter, though Gandalf reports an interesting tidbit.
"I once saw him sitting all alone on the top of the Carrock at night watching the moon sinking towards the Misty Mountains, and I heard him growl in the tongue of bears: 'The day will come when they will perish and I shall go back!' That is why I believe he once came from the mountains himself."

We do learn more later, during Bilbo and Gandalf's return to Bag End, to lend support to the wizard's suppositions on Beorn's nature, but that can wait for the appropriate time. And in Letters Tolkien confirms that whatever else Beorn is, perhaps something of a magician, he is still a mortal Man. Meanwhile, we know from this that Gandalf understands the language of bears! Something he learned from Radagast?

"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 Jul 1, 12:00pm)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jul 1, 12:15pm

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The Wind on the Withered Heath [In reply to] Can't Post

The Wind went on from West to East;
all movement in the forest ceased,
but shrill and harsh across the march
its whistling voices were released.


Also, the wind "swept above the dragon's lair". I do wonder if the poem embodies the desire of Durin's Folk for vengeance against Smaug. This might even represent some of the later verses of the "Misty Mountain Song" that Bilbo slept through back in Bag End.

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


noWizardme
Valinor


Jul 2, 9:35am

Post #6 of 42 (2649 views)
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Peril by numbers - structures in the book [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I'd like to begin with a discussion of the structure of the story so far. It seems to me that the action resembles a regular stair. Every chapter of rising tension is immediately followed by one of relative calm, a gathered breath before the next, more difficult, stage of the climb. Even the riddle game with Gollum is something of a respite between the manic events of Goblin Town and the even more terrifying combined threat of the goblins and wargs, the fire in the forest glade, and the moments in which even Gandalf (wizard though he was) became afraid. As we have come again to an odd-numbered chapter, we might presume to exhale. Should we? Does the author have a "tell"? If he does, is that a bad thing, given the type of story he has written and the audience for whom it may have been intended?


That's an interesting point, and I have a few scattered thoughts in return.

I suppose that, in a journeying story of this sort, its almost inevitable that difficulties arise on the way to the ultimate objective. The heroes must overcome them (as otherwise the story couldn't go on). Relentless uneventful travel would be boring, and relentless peril would be exhausting to read. So to an extent the stair pattern is bound to happen.

For me, the problem with such patterns is if they begin to distract me from the story . For example, I remember reading a 'thriller' type of book where each chapter had a very strict structure: progress--reverse--cliffhanger. It didn't seem as if this was a structure the author had intended me to notice so that he could exploit my expectations - it felt like he was writing by formula. So I began to try and guess what the reverse and cliffhanger would be, rather than enjoying the story. That hasn't been a problem for me in The Hobbit so far.

Putting the stair into a regular pattern of chapters makes it more noticeable, I think. It may be an issue here that the imagined readership is children reading (or being read to) at bedtime. That might suggest dividing the chapters so that they end with reasonably peaceful places to put the book mark in and turn out the light, rather than cliffhangers.

Another thing that adds to the episodic feel for me is that I don't find myself thinking all that much beyond the next adventure. In LOTR, Frodo is being constantly hunted, and he has a clear idea of what he is supposed to do at the end of the journey. Quite early on, he's already expressing his doubts that he can succeed, or will survive. Then of course other arcs start up - what will happen to the various shards of the Fellowship once it is broken; or to Eowyn? That keeps me thinking about longer term goals in LOTR, but I don't find that happening here. Tolkien doesn't, for example, fill Bilbo's dull hours at Beorn's with fretting about what he'll do when he's supposed to burgle Smaug. We don't find Bilbo (say) practising his 'burglaring' and getting caught or nearly caught disobeying Beorn's curfew

~~~~~~
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


noWizardme
Valinor


Jul 2, 9:55am

Post #7 of 42 (2652 views)
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Failed creepiness? [In reply to] Can't Post

Reading the chapter it didn't occur to me seriously that Beorn would betray the party, or have some sinister design of his own upon them. Nor did I worry that another good old fairytale device was coming - that the rule against going outside at night would be broken (inadvertently or out of curiosity/defiance, perhaps), with dramatic consequences. Nor did I find 'the monster prowls around the house while we sing inside' all that creepy (it is quite Beowulfian, in retrospect, but this monster never breaks in for a fight)

Did those things occur to other readers? Is there something here that just wasn't, as it happens, working for me?

~~~~~~
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


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 2, 5:29pm

Post #8 of 42 (2620 views)
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Some of both [In reply to] Can't Post

Re-reading this chapter, I saw that Bilbo's anxieties are way out of synch with the reality of Beorn, fearing far more dreadful things than will actually happen. Beorn even teases him about it.

At the same time, I was putting myself in Bilbo's shoes and thinking of sleeping in an unfamiliar place that could be a cabin in the woods, and waking at night and hearing animal noises outside--definitely can be creepy. I can recall similar mountain camping trips as a child where my siblings and I would be alarmed by every crash in the forest around us at night, and my parents would shrug and say "It's probably just a deer." (That was their answer to everything, in retrospect, and they didn't have night vision, so it's something you say to calm your kids, because we certainly weren't afraid of deer. But as a rule, deer stay very quiet.)

And while Tolkien observes many genre rules for this book (episodic adventure/rest, fantastical things like dog-waiters), he stoutly resists the well-worn device of the characters being given one rule not to break which of course they do. Not here. I was even thinking that in the movie "Pan's Labyrinth," which alternated between very gritty scenes of an abusive father and the Spanish Civil War, and then scenes where the girl is in a realm of magic, the girl is given mini-quests and "whatever you do, don't break the rule," and yes, she breaks it. So even in an adult movie that's reasonably contemporary, that convention is with us. Yet Bilbo doesn't even peek out a window!

Then skipping ahead a chapter, Beorn told the dwarves not to drink from the enchanted river, and they don't--Bombur winding up in it was pure accident, not out of temptation or "damn the rules! I'm thirsty!" So Tolkien doesn't seem convention-bound. (Notably, Bilbo doesn't get a princess-bride at the end, either, but he does get rich.)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 2, 5:44pm

Post #9 of 42 (2619 views)
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Looking backward instead of ahead [In reply to] Can't Post

Your point about how we react as readers to the predictable episodic nature of this book made me realize something.

Quote
Tolkien doesn't, for example, fill Bilbo's dull hours at Beorn's with fretting about what he'll do when he's supposed to burgle Smaug. We don't find Bilbo (say) practising his 'burglaring' and getting caught or nearly caught disobeying Beorn's curfew.

Au contraire, when Bilbo has free time (and dream time), he spends it looking backwards at the comforts of home. It's rare that he and the dwarves talk about the dragon and treasure at the end of the story. I wonder how deliberate this is on Tolkien's part--is he trying to distract us from the plot formula on purpose by looking backwards, or is this character-driven, and it's just who Bilbo is and how he thinks? Or a third option is that the constant references to the comforts back home reinforce the perils and hardships of the present.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 2, 6:18pm

Post #10 of 42 (2615 views)
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Vegetarian hippies and dog-waiters [In reply to] Can't Post

It was not much of a stretch for "Bored of the Rings" to make Tom Bombadil and Goldberry into a hippie drug commune, and their counterpart here is a vegetarian bear-man who lives in harmony with nature (meaning he doesn't eat his animal servants, even though bears eat everything). Like Treebeard and Bombadil, Beorn is a caretaker and cultivator of nature at its best, though he's more hands-on with than the other two. There is an Eden-like sense of everything safe, beautiful, and prosperous.

I like your point that he's a genius loci (which I had to look up), and it seems as if the location spawns the character for all three men, making them more Middle-earth creations than Eru creations.

I remembered that Beorn had animal servants, but forgot until this re-read that the dogs could get on their hind legs and effectively use their front paws as hands for serving at the table. This is the sign to me of an author who is so, so desperate to exclude humans from the location yet still needs to get things done (like getting dinner on the table while the host is absent), that he'll go to absurd lengths to make that happen. It would bother me more if it were more pervasive, but it's just here, so I minimize it in my mind. And I keep telling myself it's a children's story, but really...


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 2, 6:39pm

Post #11 of 42 (2618 views)
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When is it polite to spy on your host? [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for leading this chapter, Roverandom!

One of my questions about our clever wizard is why it's okay for him to spend the day tracking Beorn as if he doesn't trust him, and Beorn doesn't seem to mind either. I think actually that Beorn is an awfully pliable character for Tolkien, because for me, the clever wizard's plan of introducing the dwarves at intervals would set me on edge as a host if a never-ending stream of uninvited guests kept showing up. I think we're supposed to believe that Beorn is so engrossed in Gandalf's fascinating story (which we as readers already know), that he's willing to dismiss the distractions.

But then again, Gandalf is a wizard-trickster, so maybe there's guile and magic involved as much as cleverness, similar to throwing his voice around to distract the trolls so they'd lose track of time and be caught by the sun.

The fact that Beorn is gruff and a reluctant supply depot for the dwarves may be Tolkien acknowledging that having supply depots appear at strategic points throughout a story strains our credibility, so we'd be strained even more if Beorn were friendly and eagerly agreed to help them upfront because he's on the side of Good.

Looking ahead, the Wood-elves are much less friendly and willing to resupply the dwarves, but they serve as a rescue from starvation and dehydration, even if it's a prison. That is a twist one wouldn't expect, particularly since they're on the side of Good also.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jul 2, 8:02pm

Post #12 of 42 (2608 views)
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Don't leave the path! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Then skipping ahead a chapter, Beorn told the dwarves not to drink from the enchanted river, and they don't--Bombur winding up in it was pure accident, not out of temptation or "damn the rules! I'm thirsty!" So Tolkien doesn't seem convention-bound. (Notably, Bilbo doesn't get a princess-bride at the end, either, but he does get rich.)


Still skipping ahead: Drinking from the stream was one of the prohibitions (broken by accident). The other was not to leave the Elf-path, which of course the company also violates, much to their regret as it leads to their capture first by the spiders and then by the Elves. The warnings and prohibitions are very much in the spirit of myth and fairy tale.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison


(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jul 2, 8:04pm)


noWizardme
Valinor


Jul 3, 10:30am

Post #13 of 42 (2549 views)
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Bilbo seems oddly content that burglaring will come to him [In reply to] Can't Post

Bilbo seems oddly content that burglaring will come to him. If it were me I'd be anxiously logging on to Beorn's WiFi to see if an online bookshop could send me:

Larceny For Dummies,
Teach Yourself Burglaring,
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Pilferers,
The Joy Of Yeggs
etc.etc. by express eagle. Then I'd be frantically but secretly mugging up.

This is probably as much about my personality as Bilbo's, but still it does seem to me that he's oddly content he'll know what to do when the time comes.

Come to think of it, that seems of a piece with other children's' books of my childhood (by which I mean broadly the 1970s). The child protagonist just goes along with whatever adventure it is, and I don't recall many instances of a lot of self-doubt. So Maybe Bilbo is of that stamp.

~~~~~~
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


sador
Half-elven


Jul 3, 2:13pm

Post #14 of 42 (2537 views)
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I'll skip the question about odd and even-numbered chapters. [In reply to] Can't Post

For one thing, being a very long chapter (as you yourself point out), it could be both action-packed and a "breather". Also, the relatively quiet chapters will come to an end once we meet Smaug. So I am not sure I accept your premise.



In Reply To
The author takes the opportunity to describe Beorn's home and surrounding realm, the "queer lodgings" of the title, in great detail. Carrocks, bee pastures of various species of clover, a great house beyond a thorny hedge: does that description create a vivid picture in your mind? Can you see the floor plan of the house?

I am not so good in envisioning, so while I like the description, I had no clear picture of the house and its surroundings.
I was kind of hoping the film will create this image for me, but it didn't.



Does all this detail detract from the adventure or enhance it?
I don't think it detracts. I personally like it.
But different people have different tastes.


With regards to Beorn himself, he is presented to us as someone potentially dangerous. Given Gandalf's description of the man, were any of you overly concerned with the safety of the company?
I can't really remember my first reading. But compared to other encounters, Beorn seems quite safer.



Does the tactic serve to show us anything about Beorn's character that we couldn't have gotten otherwise?
Gandalf's assertion that he is kind enough when humoured - this is something which needs to be shown, I think.



If so, why did the author then feel the need to tell us precisely how clever Gandalf had been in employing it? Doesn't he trust us to understand that point?
The point is that Bilbo finally understood.
And as you point out, this is also the trick played on him - so he might reflect on that.


Lastly, what to make of Beorn? Is he a bear in the shape of a man or a man who can become a bear?
I suppose he is a man first and foremost. At the end of the story, he become 'unenchanted', and in The Lord of the Rings he becomes the founder of a dynasty.



Gandalf has his theory, but are we meant to take everything the wizard says at face-value?
Well, I always argue we don't need to. But the near-consensus seems to think we do.



since Beorn is the master of a small, well-defined realm and "under no enchantment but his own", is he, essentially, Tom Bombadil for the purposes of this story?
No, because he eventually leaves his domain and interferes in the affairs of the world.


Or, because he doesn't appear to be on anyone's side (except that he is firmly opposed to the goblins), is he the precursor to Treebeard?
That seems more likely. In general, I think The Hobbit is more concerned with animals, and The Lord of the Rings with plants. So it would be more appropriate to have a character like Beorn to compare with Treebeard.



Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jul 3, 3:23pm

Post #15 of 42 (2537 views)
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In what way is Beorn 'uninchanted'? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Lastly, what to make of Beorn? Is he a bear in the shape of a man or a man who can become a bear?
I suppose he is a man first and foremost. At the end of the story, he become 'unenchanted', and in The Lord of the Rings he becomes the founder of a dynasty.


I'm not sure what you mean by 'uninchanted'. We get no indication that Beorn ever loses his ability to transform into a bear and back. In fact, we are eventually told that many of his direct descendants inherit his skin-changing ability. The only change that we learn about is that Beorn ends his (self-imposed?) exile from human society and becomes the chieftain of his new followers who call themselves the Beornings.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 3, 3:37pm

Post #16 of 42 (2527 views)
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Not just Bilbo [In reply to] Can't Post

While you'd be on the Wifi to get books on burglaring. I'd be lazier and go on middle-earth.com and shop for a Gizmo-Blasto-Surefire-Dragonkiller device. Or I'd go on a less reputable site like bill-ferny's-list.com and try to hire a cheap thief to burgle for me.

But anyway,

Quote
Come to think of it, that seems of a piece with other children's' books of my childhood (by which I mean broadly the 1970s). The child protagonist just goes along with whatever adventure it is, and I don't recall many instances of a lot of self-doubt. So Maybe Bilbo is of that stamp.

That's in line with my comment a week or two back about a blue dog randomly inviting a kid on an adventure to save a princess. People just do things in these stories without doubt or introspection or turning back. So that's a big contrast with LOTR where Frodo, especially towards the latter half, confesses to Sam and Faramir that he has no idea how he'll accomplish his quest, he just feels the duty to try. I don't know if adults doubt more than kids do, or if they just see doubt as a fundamental part of the world (along with other attributes, of course) and expect it to feature in a story.

Oh, and please don't mock "Larceny for Dummies." I've learned so much from that book to supplement my income. Oh, wait, I shouldn't be saying that in public, should I? [Now does this little button thingy delete or post my reply?]


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jul 3, 7:02pm

Post #17 of 42 (2502 views)
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Oops! I meant: 'unenchanted'. [In reply to] Can't Post

Please pardon my (mis)spelling.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Jul 3, 9:18pm

Post #18 of 42 (2488 views)
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Good leading of the chapter, well done! [In reply to] Can't Post

Interesting title this chapter. Queer lodgings. I wonder what 13 Dwarves, one Hobbit, one Wizard and a Beer-shape shifter would get up to in a large log cabin at night, all male? Go around eating honey and cakes and drinking beer, I suppose.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 4, 4:33am

Post #19 of 42 (2471 views)
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Yeah, and after THAT party got underway, they started hallucinating that animals were their waiters. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


noWizardme
Valinor


Jul 4, 8:34am

Post #20 of 42 (2462 views)
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And also *why*? [In reply to] Can't Post

Why does Gandalf follow Beorn around? I mean, why would Gandalf say he did it, rather than it being a device to tell us a little about where Beorn has gone, and to raise the possibility that he will betray them?

~~~~~~
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


Jul 4, 2:10pm

Post #21 of 42 (2452 views)
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Keeping the focus on Bilbo. [In reply to] Can't Post


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I mean, why would Gandalf say he did it, rather than it being a device to tell us a little about where Beorn has gone, and to raise the possibility that he will betray them?


This is to keep the attention on Bilbo, the main character of the book, just as we didn't follow Gandalf up the East Road during the time when Bilbo and the Dwarves were encountering the trolls, and why we didn't follow Gandalf's movements when the rest of the company was captured by goblins.

Gandalf's observations, though, were intended to set aside worries of possible betrayal by Beorn, not to bring them up. Of course that didn't stop the overanxious hobbit from worrying anyway.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison


sador
Half-elven


Jul 4, 5:20pm

Post #22 of 42 (2441 views)
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Well, [In reply to] Can't Post

I see no indication that after settling down, marrying and becoming a chieftain of (probably) the woodmen, Beorn did continue shape-shifting. He did pass the ability to some of his descendants, that's all.

What I wrote was based on Tolkien's own plot-notes (published by John Rateliff in The History of the Hobbit p. 629: "Battle of Five Armies and disenchantment of Beorn" - which Rateliff discusses earlier, in pages 259-260.

But I agree that this source is obscure, and I should have cited it before just throwing this idea about.

And for obvious reasons, I did not want to use "disenchantment". But "unenchantment" doesn't sound well, either.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jul 4, 5:48pm

Post #23 of 42 (2432 views)
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The History of The Hobbit [In reply to] Can't Post

It's been too long since I've read that and I don't own a copy, so I can't comment on Ratecliff's discussion or the plot-notes by Tolkien that he cites. We certainly see at least one significant change in Beorn's life following the Battle of Five Armies. His hermit-like existence comes to an end and he becomes a leader within the Vales of Anduin (and I agree that the Beornings were, at least principally, made up of Woodmen and perhaps other Men of that region). This change could be the cited unenchantment. Rather than Beorn losing his ability to change his skin, the battle might have given him the confidence that he did not need to fear losing control while in his bear-form (if that was indeed a concern of his).

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison


Morthoron
Gondor


Jul 4, 7:12pm

Post #24 of 42 (2428 views)
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I'm rather surprised.... [In reply to] Can't Post

that no one has yet commented on this being perhaps the most Anglo-Saxon in character of the Hobbit chapters.

There's the A-S naming convention of Beorn himself, the characteristics both directly and more often indirectly synthesized from Beowulf and the Norse Bodvar Bjarki, right down the depictions of Beorn's A-S mead hall or longhouse that Tolkien himself drew so meticulously.

The only interesting exception is the word Carrock, which seems more cognate with the Old Irish carrac (such as in Carrickfergus -- Fergus' Rock -- originally a large rock by the shore in the bay now referred to as Belfast Lough), or the Welsh carreg, both indicating "large stones or boulders". There is a root prefix carr in A-S that means "stone", but nothing I've seen yet to indicate a suffix denoting size. Anyone with further info please post.

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.



CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 5, 1:08am

Post #25 of 42 (2402 views)
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It may be a clumsy narrative device [In reply to] Can't Post

Beorn wasn't the garrulous type, so maybe Tolkien thought it would be out of character for him to show up at the end of the day and give a narrative on *everything* he'd done instead of a sketch. Maybe.

And Gandalf is pretty chatty in The Hobbit, so having him deliver the story of the rovings of Beorn makes some internal story sense. But it still seems odd from a logical point of view that he spent the whole day ranging far afield, all alone, just to track this guy whom he says they should trust. And what exactly DID he think Beorn was up to--selling their location to the goblins for a reward?

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