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**A Thief in the Night** I - an introduction

titanium_hobbit
Rohan


Oct 21 2012, 10:16pm

Post #1 of 4 (477 views)
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**A Thief in the Night** I - an introduction Can't Post

This is a really short chapter (6 pages in my edition, the 1987 Allen & Unwin), but I like how it's really short and punchy. It's one of my favourite chapters, I think because of the way that Bilbo really shines. He's shone before, perhaps most memorably in Barrels out of Bond but in this chapter he seems to take the fate of more people than himself and small group of cranky dwarves into his hands and tries valiantly to work for good.

This week I will be breaking the discussion into small, one a day chunks. Monday (Today) is about the broader themes of the chapter (and its place in the book), then we will talk about the three 'acts' of the chapter, with Bilbo formulating his plan, the execution of that plan, and his return. Finally I'll open a thread so that we can discuss anything else that you want to raise in the chapter. I'll try and post mornings, Australian Eastern Time.


As mentioned, this is a short chapter.
When reading this chapter, because of its (lack of) length, do you find that you want to continue on to the next chapter straight away?

A Thief in the Night interrupts a cloud themed title sequence: coming between The Gathering of the Clouds and The Clouds Burst. The dwarves have discovered that Smaug is dead, but that a whole host of folk are coming for the treasure, and so they fortify the gate. After this chapter, war brews with the gathered host of men and elves.

What 'feel' does this break give to the story?


Quote

Now the days passed slowly and wearily. Many of the dwarves spent their time piling and ordering the treasure; and now Thorin spoke of the Arkenstone of Thrain, and bade them eagerly to look for it in every corner.


Wait, days?

without reading carefully, how long did you think this action took?

What kind of piles and order for the treasure?

I'm struck by how not-suspicious Thorin is here. I was skimming the chapters before and found in
Not at Home:

Quote
Bilbo was climbing the great mound of treasure. Soon he stood upon the top, and still went on. Then they saw him halt and stoop for a moment; but they did not know the reason.
It was the Arkenstone, the heart of the Mountain.



Surely Thorin would begin to put two and two together?

Back in A Thief in the Night

Quote
'For the Arkenstone of my father.' he said, 'is worth more than a river of gold in itself, and to me it is beyond price. That stone of all the treasure I name unto myself, and I will be avenged on anyone who finds it and withholds it.'


In Thorin's shoes, would you begin to suspect your fuzzy footed burglar?

One of the theories floated around this board is that the bare patch on Smaug's marvelous waistcoat is Arkenstone-shaped.

Do you think that Thorin might begin to worry that the stone has gone down with the dragon? (remembering that they do know the story of Smaug's demise, via the Thrush)

Is the Arkenstone The One Ring of The Hobbit ? (of course the one ring is in The Hobbit, but not to the same effect as in LOTR.)

How is the Arkenstone important to Thorin? Is it the monetary value?

How is the Arkenstone important to Tolkien, and to the novel?

The focus has shifted from the dragon-bed of treasure, concentrated now onto one stone.
Do you think this is a useful plot device, or would you do it differently?

Is the Arkenstone a macguffin?

Enough from me, over to you.

Tomorrow: Bilbo's plan.


Hobbit firster, Book firster.


Have you explored all of TORN's forums?


(This post was edited by titanium_hobbit on Oct 21 2012, 10:17pm)


sador
Half-elven


Oct 22 2012, 10:38am

Post #2 of 4 (202 views)
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When reading this chapter, because of its (lack of) length, do you find that you want to continue on to the next chapter straight away?
Not especially. It doesn't end with a cliffhanger; the tension is mounting, as throughout this part of the story.

I usually want to continue reading, but this is a convinient place to stop.

What 'feel' does this break give to the story?

It builds up the tension.
Compare to cahpters 36-38 of Watership Down.

Without reading carefully, how long did you think this action took?
It must have taken some time, for Dain to get organised and march to the Mountain.


What kind of piles and order for the treasure?
Well, it did require sorting out and organising. I expect Smaug made a pile of it all and slept on it, as dragons normally do. Some items are useful, some are necessary, some luxurious, some mere essays in the craft; gems, gold, silver, wrought, unwrought. It needs to be assessed for value, etc.


Surely Thorin would begin to put two and two together?
Yes, if he had really been as stingy and suspicious as some readers tend to view him. But apparently he's confident in Bilbo, and never dreams that the hobbit will betray him.

In Thorin's shoes, would you begin to suspect your fuzzy footed burglar?
Perhaps, if I wasn't also concerned with the siege and the safety of my followers.

One of the theories floated around this board is that the bare patch on Smaug's marvelous waistcoat is Arkenstone-shaped.
Twit's UUT! It's a brilliant one, isn't it?

The only downside to it is that in Tolkien's famous illustration Conversation_with_Smaug, the Arkenstone is clearly pictured on the top of the pile.

Do you think that Thorin might begin to worry that the stone has gone down with the dragon?
I would like to, but I don't think so.
Had he really thought this was the case, he would have made peace with Bard on the worst possible terms, and headed South to look for it in the Lake.

Is the Arkenstone The One Ring of The Hobbit?
Not quite. If anything, it is the Silmaril.
It is important to Bilbo, but Bard cheerfully uses it to extort what he demands (and has the temerity to call "his own").

How is the Arkenstone important to Thorin? Is it the monetary value?
How do you estimate that?
I suppose that as the Heart of the Mountain, it has a religious or religious-like value for him.
Bilbo is in the element of the middle-class English gentleman - taking the sacred objects of unsuspecting foreigners, and then trafficking in it. Being born in a colony, JRRT must have known this well - Kimberley is not that far from Bloemfontein!

How is the Arkenstone important to Tolkien, and to the novel?
It gives Biblo a role in this drama!

Do you think this is a useful plot device, or would you do it differently?
No, I think the focus is still on the treasure as a whole. Only for Thorin, and to a lesser extent Bilbo and Bilbo (and Dain), does it have any intrinsic significance.

Is the Arkenstone a macguffin?
Any religious object is a macgauffin for cynics.


"Heart of the mountain...heart of Thorin...and now, Gandalf says "keep your heart up" . Anyone care to comment on the repeated use of that image?"
- weaver



The weekly discussion of The Hobbit is back. Join us in the Reading Room for A Thief in the Night!

(This post was edited by dernwyn on Oct 29 2012, 12:20am)


titanium_hobbit
Rohan


Oct 23 2012, 1:30pm

Post #3 of 4 (168 views)
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religious aspect [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for your answers sador!

Yes, that religious aspect that you've raised resonates with me. Thorin cannot simply value it on monetary value, or as a heirloom, but it is a relic of the mountain, it's very heart.

I wonder if it's religious / powerful effect on Bilbo is intrinsic or based on it's mythology/ Thorin's descriptions and feelings for it?


Hobbit firster, Book firster.


Have you explored all of TORN's forums?


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Oct 29 2012, 12:29am

Post #4 of 4 (291 views)
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"i'm lovin' this!" [In reply to] Can't Post

I fixed your link to Twit's post, sador - thank you for the recollection of that awesome thread!

I had pondered back then whether the Arkenstone had some sentience, which would indeed make it the "Ring" of this story. But it is a mere stone, albeit of brilliant quality. Still, I do like the romance of Smaug having lain atop the Arkenstone for long, creating that "hole" when he changed his position on the mound. Poetic justice, one might say.

But I think this object has no "religious" significance, as I'm not sure what "religion" the dwarves would have. Certainly though it has great cultural importance, and is the emblem of Thorin's lost kingdom, and therefore of value beyond all other treasure to him.

Now my question is, if the Arkenstone seems to shine with a light of its own, then why isn't it shining a bit through Bilbo's pocket, thereby giving away its presence...


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

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"





 
 

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