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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
**An Unexpected Party** - 1. This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure
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Tol Eressea

Mar 30 2009, 12:19pm

Post #76 of 80 (129 views)
I like that one, too. [In reply to] Can't Post

The landscape looks a little more barren and desolate than I'd pictured, but still.

What is that in the lower left-hand corner? The Water? It seems dangerously close to his hobbit hole. I bet his flood insurance premiums are outrageous.


The TORNsib formerly known as Galadriel.

Tol Eressea

Mar 30 2009, 12:30pm

Post #77 of 80 (136 views)
Thanks for that. [In reply to] Can't Post

I've been nostalgic for children's literature lately. I'll have to reread the Oz books some day. Also the Little House books.

I see why the party scene reminds you of Bilbo's party. The munchkins do sound as if they valued food and cheer and song as the hobbits do.


The TORNsib formerly known as Galadriel.


Mar 30 2009, 4:12pm

Post #78 of 80 (128 views)
I took it so, as a child. [In reply to] Can't Post

When I first read it as a child, I took it that the hobbit being now grown-up, being about fifty or so, meant that for hobbits this meant "adult, having reached one's prime" not "old" (as I then fancied fifty to be old.) I further took the reference to dwarves living for more than a century as implying that all of the non-human creatures had longer lifespans than "mortal men".

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Apr 1 2009, 3:23am

Post #79 of 80 (137 views)
The Door in the Ground [In reply to] Can't Post


In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

"The door stood straight up in the grassy bank, where the path turned. It was like a house door, but whatever was behind it was under the ground. The door was shut. " On the Banks of Plum Creek; Laura Ingalls Wilder

Is Tolkien teasing his first time reader/listeners to imagine at this point that a “hobbit” was a kind of animal, following the beast-fable conventions in children’s literature, for example Alice in Wonderland or The Wind in the Willows or the tales of Beatrix Potter?

I was introduced to The Hobbit by my best friend when I was 13 years old. (The first story of The Hobbit, mind you, with the kinder, gentler Gollum.) My friend had been bugging me about my love of reading The Chronicles of Narnia, so I assumed that The Hobbit was something fantastic and of the same general genre. Although I was told nothing about the plot or the story line, for some reason I automatically assumed that a hobbit was humanoid. I believe this was due in large part to my having previously read On the Banks of Plum Creek. That was my first introduction to the concept of a human house being beneath the ground. Upon reading finishing that book, I put it down and questioned my mother about the nature of underground houses, dirt floors, and the use of buffalo chips for kindling. From that moment to this day, I have wanted my own house under a hill. Reading The Hobbit only reinforced that desire.

A very clear connection is drawn between being respectable (and rich) and not doing anything unexpected or adventurous. These key words are repeated in this paragraph twice, in opposite order.

I don't know about the "(and rich)" part, but the whole link of being respectable and non-adventurous vs. questionable and adventurous immediately made me think of my mother's family. Everyone was supposed to live plain, ordinary, uneventful lives. It was also expected that one should feel a large amount of satisfaction and peace of mind in the fact that everything would always be as it always had been. I never cottoned to this notion. I think there must be a fair amount of Took in me from my father's side. His family was nothing like that.

Is Tolkien satirizing or accepting the literary conventions of British country life that contrast respectability and adventures? Have you read elsewhere of characters so dull that their conversation can be anticipated?

I immediately identified the characterization with the country life of those living in northeast Oklahoma. I haven't read anything like that (that I can recall) but I have certainly lived it.

Does it hurt the story, or reassure the young reader/listener, to be told up front that Mr. Baggins will definitely survive his adventure?

Personally, I love it when I know the ending of a story. For me, the adventure in reading a book is learning how that ending came about.

In a forced aside, the narrator interrupts himself to explain just what a hobbit is. We finally learn that they are not animals but little people: half human size. They are however not dwarves, lacking especially the beards. They are fat and cheerful and dressy and have the peculiarity of feet so hairy and tough that they do not need shoes.

Mary and Laura Ingalls ran about barefoot and lived in a hole in the ground. Suddenly I find myself wondering if they, too, were hobbits.

Next we learn Mr. Baggins’ name – Bilbo – and about his “fabulous” and “remarkable” mother, Belladonna Took, daughter of the Old Took. The Tooks live just across the Water at the foot of Bilbo’s Hill. They are known for being richer, somewhat less respectable, and more adventurous, than the Baggins family.

I can recall overhearing the hushed discussions of my mother's family where they would tsk-tsk the "adventurous" lives of the well-to-do. They did so with a sort of piety. As a youngster, I got the distinct impression that those with wealth allowed their societal morals to relax because it gave them better access to all of those deadly sins. I am sure they have the same conversations about me, now, and I am certainly far from being either wealthy or affluent. Respectable people don't run about at festivals where the "water of life" freely flows, don't parade about with swords, and don't have husbands that grow ZZ Top-like beards and wear kilts. I'm sure they could give you a complete description of my personal Handbasket to Heck--right down to the particular weave used on the basket. Wink


May 10 2009, 11:37am

Post #80 of 80 (171 views)
What a wonderful escort into the journey! [In reply to] Can't Post

I think the detailed, elaborate description has 2 purposes. 1) to set up Hobbits in general so the contrast has more of an impact and 2) to help us see how different Bilbo is, even when he strives to conform to a well-to-do Hobbit's role in the community. We see him go from proper and scripted in superficial conversation to intrigued and (at times) downright giddy with excietment. It also establishes what a manipulator and curiosity Gandalf is. Do we trust him or not? Why does this simple Hobbit indulge him so?

I'd like to know who labelled Belladonna as being so fabulous. Is she fabulous in Hobbiton terms or in our storyteller's terms? If it's hobbity terms, then she was a good little girl who always did what she was supposed to. If it's in our narrator's terms, the girl did some walking about herself ;)

I think the Good Professor is laced through each of our primary characters, and Bilbo most of all!


"There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West."
~Hug like a hobbit!~ "In my heaven..."

I really need these new films to take me back to, and not re-introduce me to, that magical world.

TORn's Observations Lists

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