The Hobbit :: Week Three

Welcome to the The Hobbit read-a-long! We’re reading this book through November and December. You can see the reading schedule and guidelines on the Starting Post Page.

Week Three: Read to Chapter VII


Important: Would you please take just a moment to make sure that the name with which you are commenting matches exactly the name you signed up with (the one that is on the list below)? You’d be surprised how much of a difference this makes for me time-wise when checking who’s commented for the week. So, if the names don’t count exactly-  I’ll assume you’re just chiming in (not part of the read-a-long) I won’t count them, fair ? (Not trying to be a pill – just tricky to sort through comments and make sure I have the right people.) If you’d like me to change the name on the reader’s list, please just let me know, in the comments, and I’ll do that for you. That said, if you are not on the list, and have been participating in discussions, please let me know so that I can add you! Thanks! :)

Regarding the welcome message, I am going to keep it as is the The Hobbit, apparently it is still correct, and it can be our silly little inside joke. Perhaps you’ll remember it on future re-reads of The Hobbit. ;)

This week was short, just one chapter (be a bit of a long chapter), but after two weeks of a little longer reading, I’m hoping it gave some of you time to catch up, and others of us (who were celebrating Thanksgiving this week) the time to get the reading done, even while preparing for the holiday!

What were your favorite parts this week? Do you have any questions? Any concerns?

My only concern is that Bilbo didn’t tell them the truth about the ring, but rather acted as though he cleverly snuck up on them (instead of approaching the group invisibly). Somehow I feel like this will not bode well (I can’t remember if that’s right or not!). Then again, maybe this will help them out in the long run? I just am a little nervous about the “team” not being on the same page.

I really enjoyed reading about Bilbo soaring through the air, and felt so sorry for him that he was having to hold on for dear life, poor little thing. I did happen to remember that they were saved by the Eagles, which was a fun memory bump. Again, am loving how Tolkien incorporates the animals and gives them human characteristics, but in such a matter-of-fact way.

Are Hobbits vegetarian? Once they were finally fed (whew, I could actually feel the relief), Bilbo mentions wishing he could have had a loaf with butter instead of the meat. Though he could have meant a meatloaf, it seems to refer to bread in this instance. I thought that was interesting.

Also, at the very last sentence of the reading, Bilbo is dreaming of his home, going from room to room “looking for something that he could not find nor remember what it looked like.” Has he done this before (can’t remember)? I’m curious if this is important or if he’s just remembering home… any thoughts?

Who’s Reading Along:

** Please don’t forget to come to this blog each Friday and share your thoughts in the comments section of the weekly Wuthering Heightsdiscussion (see below for more information).**

Catlyn Lawson (@ZombieCupcake90)
Melissa Caldwell
Meg @ A Bookish Affair
Sarah D
June @So_Meow
SpyrosChrysikopoulos (@chryssiko)
Emma S.
Brittany M
Jenny Colvin (@readingenvy)
Ashley J.
Jeff Whitsitt
kai charles (@YogiKai)

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53 thoughts on “The Hobbit :: Week Three

  1. I’m loving this book! Bilbo definitely takes more after the Took side of his family! That’s for sure! I actually mumbled out loud, “that eagle better not drop them!”

    I think that he didn’t explain his escape because he’s starting to like this adventure. He grumbles and mumbles about it, but I think it was a pride thing. ALSO, I think the ring’s effects are starting to take place in subtle ways. He’s wanting to protect it. This may just appear that way to me because I’ve seen the movie..I dunno.

    I am a little baffled by that last bit. The going through his house dream could be him remembering but it could also be some foreshadowing? I guess we’ll have to see. :)

  2. The thing that stuck with me in this chapter was the part where Gandalf and the crew are surrounded by wolves in the trees…it says something to the effect that Gandalf was afraid because they were in a bad place. And I’m thinking Gandalf isn’t actually afraid–or is he? He’s sort of this all-powerful, all-knowing being. So he can’t be that afraid, right? But then I think, he’s not afraid for himself…he’s uncertain and worried about the others. They may not be able to handle what happens on this journey.

    Then Gandalf starts the fireworks and the eagles come and save them…just seems like everything will work out in the end. And I don’t know how I feel about that–was Tolkien an optimist? …I’m having flashbacks to Candide right now.

    • I got the feeling from reading this scene that Gandalf didn’t expect to see the Goblins like that. I get the impression he’s wise but not “all-knowing” wise. I think he’s good at predicting outcomes, but sometimes things throw him for a loop. He recovers quickly, either out of sheer luck or regaining control of the situation, but he can be shaken up some. I think it makes him more human and less “god like.”

      • I think Gandalf is wise and brave but not all-knowing. He definitely has his limits. There are many situations that he finds himself in that he probably would have avoided had he known they were coming!

        • I agree with the both of you — Gandalf is a wise and experienced wizard, but not all knowing or able to fix everything. He can put better things in motion (which is what I think he’s doing with aiding this journey) but much is outside his influence.

    • I’m letting my image of Gandalf in LOTR cloud my judgement…no, Gandalf isn’t exactly all-knowing, but I think it’s safe to say he knows more than he lets on–wise as you all put.

  3. Tolkien doesn’t spell it out quite the way as he does in LOTR, but Bilbo’s not telling about the ring right away seems to tie in with how quickly the ring influences the bearer. Maybe since its most definitely written as a children’s tale, he didn’t write/add in that psychological pull that Frodo feels. But Gandalf definitely knows – “‘What did I tell you?’ said Gandalf laughing. ‘Mr. Baggins has more about him than you guess.’ He gave Bilbo a queer look from under his bushy eyebrows, as he said this, and the hobbit wondered if he guessed at the part of his tale that he had left out.” I think Gandalf knows what happens before hand. Bilbo’s theft of the ring is much more detailed than his other thefts. Gandalf knows he ends up with the ring, and that is why he is determined to have him on the crew. Or so I think.

    Hobbits aren’t vegetarians. Bilbo isn’t used to getting and prepping meat himself (he gets it from a butcher it says at the end of the chapter). And Pippin goes on about bacon in LOTR. Maybe bread and butter is Bilbo’s comfort food.

  4. I came to the same conclusion about the ring…that it is part of the power it holds on it’s owner, to make them jealous and possessive and secretive about owning it. Remember in LOTR how Bilbo turns absolutely INSANE for an instant when passing off the ring to Gandalf? And when he comes back to himself, he seems to feel such great relief to not have this burden any longer.

    Does anyone else feel that goblins are just kind of non-scary? Like they are big dumb idiots lumbering around the forest and are easily outwitted and escapable? I can’t drum up any fear for them, not the way I could for Gollum.

    I loved the eagles helping the crew out of an impossible situation. I can’t imagine what they would have done without their assistance! Make me think of another helpful eagle rescuing Gandalf from an even more desolate situation in LOTR. They play an awfully big role when you think about it.

    Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! :)

    • Actually the big Eagle saves Gandalf twice in LOTR (no spoilers) and the Eagle even says something about this being his new hobby or something like this =))

    • I am personally terrified of the goblins. Extremely large masses of uneducated, bad-hearted, up to no good beings? It’s the sheer number that creeps me out — it seems endless — and our little motley dwarves and hobbit crew so small (pun not intended!)!

      • I completely agree. It is the mindlessness of their savagery that most bothers me, singing songs about cracking and snapping; they are morally bankrupt and have no sympathy or empathy — thugs with clubs, to me very frightening.

      • I agree! I believe the goblins and Gollum are equally as scary, but for different reasons. Whereas Gollum is, one could say, intelligent and manipulative, the goblins are simply out to kill.

    • “I came to the same conclusion about the ring…that it is part of the power it holds on it’s owner, to make them jealous and possessive and secretive about owning it” –I’d say you’re right, but I’d also say it’s too early to connect those dots (assuming someone didn’t know the effects of ring from LOTR)

  5. I’m also worried about Bilbo not telling everyone about the ring. I know he wants to look cool, but I wonder if they’ll have problems because of this. It’s usually not good in any adventurous literature of somebody has secrets from the others… It’s children’s book, too, so I think it’s supposed to teach that lying is not good :)
    My favourite phrases this week were, of course, “Escaping goblins to be caught by wolves”, which is a nice proverb, and the pun “storks-forks” (about the eagles)

    • What I love so much about this book is that it offers complex, real life emotions and situations which I actually think provide a better example to children (and adults!). No one is 100% good or perfect, we all have conflicting emotions, some situations/people are not what they appear to be, etc. Bilbo has a secret, the dwarves wanted to leave, and not go back to look for him, all eagles are not kindly birds, etc.

      I too love the phrase “Escaping goblins to be caught by wolves” as the predecessor to out of the frying pan and into the fire!

    • I wonder if Bilbo has always been truthful? I think that there have been some hints of his need to prove himself to the dwarves, even if to do so means he acts not very like his hobbit-self. In Chapter 1, after awakening from his fit and hearing Gloin malign him, he retorts: “Tell me what you want done, and I will try it, if I have to walk from here to the East of East and fight the wild Were-worms in the Last Desert.”

      Again in the scene with the trolls, when Bilbo should just have run back to the dwarves, he decides to try to pick the pockets of the trolls: “…. he wished himself a hundred miles away and yet – and yet somehow he could not go straight back to Thorin and Company emptyhanded.”

      Maybe the ring clouds the judgment of the owner, or perhaps it works on the weakness of the possessor. Bilbo (influenced perhaps by his Tookish genes) needs to prove himself to the dwarves. A magic ring may give him the edge he needs to feel competent and brave before the disbelief of the dwarves, something that can bestow courage, much like Dumbo’s magic feather.

      • I think Bilbo’s need to prove himself also shows him to be a young Hobbit. I was thinking about how Bilbo seemed to be so immature in some respects, but then remembered that he really is supposed to be in the prime of his youth.

  6. Other than culinary-themed novels and cookbooks, I don’t think I’ve read another novel with so much discussion about food and food preparation. The irony is that even though Hobbits love to eat and do so frequently, most of the dialogue about food is how to prepare them (the Hobbits). This time the goblins have to decide whether to roast them or boil them. Good thing some friendly eagles choose to save them from this terrible fate.

    We see Gandalf in the role of savior, willing to sacrifice himself to save the others, but before he can do so, he’s rescued. If Tolkien included symbolism in the novel, we don’t have to think much about who Gandalf represents. I once read or heard that when Tolkien was asked about the themes of his novels, he replied something to the effect that there are no themes, he just wanted to tell a good story. I can’t remember where I got this, so I can’t cite a source. Any thoughts about this?

    I also noticed Bilbo’s comment about looking for something and not remembering what it looked like. It seems like foreshadowing, but I have no idea about what. Wonder if it has anything to do with the ring.

    • haha. When I read the first book in the Millennium series by Larsson, I thought there was an unusually high mention of coffee and coffee drinking.

      I agree with the symbolism, intentional or not. And I’m super curious about the foreshadowing as well…no idea where that’s going.

      • Read “The Game of Thrones” series…tons of food descriptions. There is also a cookbook based on the food in the series!

    • When I read that last line in the chapter about Bilbo’s dream, I considered it more imagery than foreshadowing, but I’ll keep that in mind now. I thought perhaps the dream was noting Bilbo’s growth so far during this adventure. Though he remembers the comforts of home and his life before, he can’t remember how he fits into it. He’s changed so much that he no longer fully recognizes who he was before. (Maybe a stretch, but that’s how I read it!)

  7. I felt the same thing about Bilbo and the Ring, It seems to quickly become a part of him and its influence is already causing his personality to change! I love how Tolkien’s “voiceovers” pop in to set up a scene like Gandalf explaining parts of the adventure Bilbo missed :)

    • I like the narration, too! It really fits with the story being, at first, a children’s story. I can just imagine kids asking how everyone else got out of the mountain and Tolkein being like, “Well, Gandalf will have to tell us that one.”

  8. That’s a great point, In a Hobbit trailer there is a scene where Gandalf is saying he is afraid and that Bilbo makes him feel unafraid. I took that to mean he doubted his ability to deal with the ring but not Bilbo’s :)

  9. This section of the book left me wanting to see the movie also! It is very exciting to see how Bilbo is starting to enjoy this journey. It may well be the ring acting on him, he is smart to only use it in times of trouble and he is smart to keep the ring to himself for now. It would be hard to travel with a bunch of dwarves that are not particularly fond of you. I am really liking the feeling I get when reading of being told a story.

  10. In the first chapter when Bilbo wants to prove himself to the Dwarves, the narrator observes that Bilbo “….suddenly felt he would go without bed and breakfast to be thought fierce.” This is the Tookish influence, but at heart Bilbo is a Hobbit. Home and hearth are the realm of the Hobbit, not adventure. What is more indicative of home than the smell of baking bread, more inviting than the idea of fixing a cup of tea or coffee, slathering butter over warm bread, and eating? Bread, the staff of life, signifies the simple things, the Hobbit like things, and after all his adventuring what Bilbo wants most is home.

    I can so understand this feeling as I feel that way after I have been away from home for a week, and I haven’t been facing 1/10th of what Bilbo has!

    Also, I loved the picture Tolkien created of the wolves circling the trees, the hobbits and dwarves more and more fearful as night approaches. I could see the sky darkening, turning to that deep blue that skies sometime have just as the last light flees; the fires are lit and the scene is thrown into relief, the eagles swoop in…… When I was reading the scene, Bilbo flying through the air holding onto Dori’s ankles for dear life, I could imagine the fear he might have felt as fatigue overtook him and his hands and arms weakened. I could also feel how Dori must have felt having to hold on himself while being furthered burdened by Bilbo. Great scene!

      • I also thought the images were particularly wonderful in this chapter.

        “So you can imagine how his head swam now, when he looked down between his dangling toes and saw the dark lands opening wide underneath him, touched here and there with the light of the moon on a hill-side rock or a stream in the plains.” etc. etc.


  11. Here’s my eye-opener of the week: dwarves can “confusticate” independent of “bebothering!” Seriously thought the two were a single Tolkien process. “Confusticate and bebother!!” And while the ring HAS to have had a certain amount of early hold on Bilbo, we also know that the dwarves were VERY hard on our wee hero at the start of the chapter. WHY had he ever been brought at all?? “He has been more trouble than use so far.” “Confusticate him!” Part of him HAD to have been in it to win it…the dwarves’ respect, that is. And that queer look Gandalf gave him? It may’ve worried Bilbo a little, but only in passing because he KNOWS he has Gandalf’s unconditional support. Meanwhile, a little instant karma for the dwarves! If only they could hear the eagles: “We will not risk ourselves for dwarves.” (Did anyone think of “The Lord of the RINGS” in relation to the Lord of the EAGLES??)

    We really mustn’t assume symbolism in Tolkien’s work. While C. S. Lewis talked openly about Narnia’s Christian themes, his Oxford buddy’s stories seem to have been just that: stories. And though the goblins do remind me of Jim Henson’s goofy Gorgs in Fraggle Rock, you guys summed it up perfectly, and infused some social symbolism of your own: ignorance coupled with hatred is scary AND DANGEROUS.

    • I have no doubt that Tolkien’s beliefs influenced his work (what writer can write without something from their life influencing it – it’s what makes each (respectable) writer different, right?). However, in books like these, where it’s good vs. evil (as most adventure novels are), I think that it’s pretty hard to just spin a good yarn without (purposefully or not) representing one (or all) of the major religions, as they too happen to be adventure stories of good vs. evil. Perhaps even though he was influenced his beliefs, he never INTENDED for these characters to be actual representations of anyone other than themselves (even if readers can easily connect them to other figures). He’s not the only one; J.K. Rowling doesn’t attribute her books to her faith today (even though she has now specifically mentioned that she’s a Christian, and could have possibly been influenced by that… which is ironic considering how the church went after her books for being evil!).

  12. I felt the same way about Biblo not telling the others about the ring. The dwarves have been pretty open questioning his ability to help them on their “mission” and perhaps Bilbo felt he needed them to think he had some credibility.

    Bilbo is in a bit of a jam though. On one hand, the dwarves question his abilities, and on the other Gandolf seems to think Bilbo has abilities that even Bilbo isn’t aware of…

    From page 76: Gandolf answered angrily; “I brought him, and I don’t bring things that are of no use. Either you help me to look for him, or I go and leave you here to get out of the mess as best you can yourselves. If we can only find him again, you will thank me before all is over.”

    Even as Bilbo bumbles around on this adventure, Gandolf’s faith in him does not seem to falter.

  13. So late to this party. Work is always getting in the way of my reading. How dare it!!! Anyhow, the good news is I’m caught up for this week’s reading!

    To your question about Bilbo thinking about home. I think that part is important for us to remember just how out of his element Bilbo is. Hobbits are homebodies (I totally understand that being a homebody myself). They aren’t supposed to be going on adventures. They aren’t supposed to want to get into trouble. They certainly aren’t supposed to knowingly face danger. I think a lot of Bilbo’s bumbling is due to the fact that this is really the first time that he probably has ever been away from home. He doesn’t know quite what to do. I think Tolkien wants to show us just how unlikely this story is for Bilbo.

    Again this week, I continue to be amazed at how detailed Tolkien makes this world. It really is a 3D experience. You know what the characters look like. You can see the setting. You know the background of all of the characters. You can picture exactly what they are doing and how they are feeling. A lot of times you only get a couple of those things in a book. Tolkien gives us it all!

  14. I really like Tolkien’s descriptiveness and the way he brings the non-human characters to life (like the wolves and eagles). I especially love his descriptions of Bilbo’s plight with regard to not having his normal meal times; having to tighten his belt a little tighter and his stomach “wagging” it’s so empty. That makes me giggle.

    Oh and Wallace, as per your request, my name from my blog automatically comes up as krystlelee, so just wanted to let you know that Krystle is me :)

  15. I have to agree that Bilbo hiding the ring on purpose wasn’t a great thing to do, especially since its not really in his character to be deceptive.

    It was nice to have a short section to read this week and am looking forward to the upcoming parts of the book. Till next week.

  16. I’m also late to the party this week due to being out of town for work :-( Everyone has already said so many great things about this exciting chapter. For me, I can’t believe how quickly Bilbo and the crew found themselves in another life-or-death jam. Between the trolls, goblins and now wolves, this is one dangerous world they live in! I’m somewhat surprised that Hobbiton can remain so idyllic and protected with so many evil forces about. I also wasn’t expecting this book to be so action-packed this early. If I recall correctly, LOTR had of course many exciting battles, but with quite a bit of downtime in between for discussions of the politics of the land, etc. That’s certainly not the case here so far. We’ll have to see if Tolkien keeps up this breakneck pace!

  17. Wallace – I signed up as Brittany M and I may have been posting as bmmcelwee – sorry about that! I completely forgot to change it. I think I fixed it now, but if not, let me know.

    Sorry I’m so late posting! Thanksgiving really threw me for a loop.

    I’m really interested in what everyone’s saying about Gandalf. I really do wonder if Tolkien intended him to be an all-knowing character resembling God.

    I think Gandalf has really good hunches and a lot of wisdom, that he also knows something about the nature of a lot of different creatures and people, as well as their capabilities. I think he’s very…shrewd. And good at reading people. It is my opinion that all of these things combine to make Gandalf SEEM all-knowing. So when Bilbo told his version of the story, I think Gandalf knew that it didn’t make sense and that there were some inconsistencies, and came to the conclusion that Bilbo was hiding something. But I don’t think he knew about the Ring, or that by Bilbo coming on the quest he would find the Ring. I don’t think Gandalf knew anything DEFINITE, he just had strong hunches.

    That’s just my opinion, developed from own my observations, but I’m very interested in what other people think. Gandalf’s quite an intricate character!

    I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before or not but I took a class on Tolkien in college and my professor told us that when Tolkien was writing The Hobbit he had “glimpses of darker things to come.” The “glimpses of darker things” eventually became the Lord of the Rings! So having read the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, I think it’s interesting to see the smaller things in the Hobbit that are wildly relevant to LOTR. It was my understanding that Tolkien didn’t fully know what would develop into the LOTR story while he was writing the Hobbit. I think that makes the episode with Bilbo being dishonest about his finding of the ring even more interesting.

  18. I agree with all of you and that keeping the ring a secret will become a problem for the gang down the road. I was wondering why Gandolf referred to Bilbo as a thief to the dwarves at the beginning of the book, but now it makes sense since he stole the ring. Previous to this, I don’t remember the book mentioning anything about him stealing anything. So, this makes me think that Gandolf knew about Bilbo’s ring stealing before it even happened.

    At the end of the chapter when it mentioned that Bilbo was at his home looking in rooms searching for something he couldn’t find gave me the feeling of foreshadowing.

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