The Hobbit summary



The Hobbit summary


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The Hobbit summary


The Hobbit Chapter Guides

Chapter One: "An Unexpected Party"
We are introduced to hobbits and to Bilbo Baggins, a stay-at-home, utterly respectable hobbit with a secret desire for adventure. Bilbo receives a visit from Gandalf the wizard. The next Wednesday Gandalf returns for tea, bringing with him a party of thirteen dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield. Despite misgivings on both sides, on Gandalf's recommendation the dwarves hire Bilbo as Burglar on an expedition to the Lonely Mountain, where they plan to recover their ancestral treasure from the dragon Smaug.
Comprehension Questions

1.What is Gandalf's reputation?

2.What kind of mark does Gandalf put on Bilbo's door?

3.How many dwarves come to tea?

4.What does Thorin wear to distinguish himself from the other dwarves?

5.What two things does Gandalf give Thorin?

6.How did the dwarves lose their treasure and kingdom?

audacious (29)
rune (32)
abreast (32)
legendary (34)
obstinately (34)
prudent (34)
remuneration (34)
necromancer (37)

Discussion and Essay Topics

1. What does the word hobbit make you think of? (The possibilities include rabbit, hobby, Babbit,
habit and hob. The word is probably best seen as a blend of rabbit and hob, an obsolete British
word meaning "a rustic, peasant" or "sprite, elf.") How does Bilbo resemble a rabbit in this
chapter? When you finish the book, ask yourself if he still reminds you of one.

2. What is an adventure? Is it something that happens, or is it the way we react to what happens?
Can we live without adventures? Is there any "magic" in this book? (Return to these questions as
the book progresses.)

3. Explain all the meanings of "good morning" (pp. 17-19).

4. What about adventures awakens Bilbo's "Tookish" side (pp. 26-28, 30)? What causes his
"Baggins" side to reemerge (pp. 30, 38)? Is the Baggins side timid or practical? Is the Tookish
side heroic, curious or proud?

5. Even this early in the book, we can see some of the characteristics of dwarves. What are they?
(Make sure you include proud, formal, hard- working, and devoted to treasure with a "fierce and
jealous love.")

6. What are dragons like (p.35)? As you read on, think about the differences and similarities
between dwarves and dragons.


Critical Commentary: Entering a Fantasy World
A fantasy novel must offer two things: an attractive fantasy world, and a point of contact between the fantasy world and our own. What readers find attractive is a matter of personal taste, but they are likely to discard a fantasy as irrelevant unless they can find a common perspective from which to assess the attractiveness. In general, these common perspectives are established in one of three ways: the main character is transported from our world into the fantasy world (like Alice to Wonderland); the main character is a native of the fantasy world with whom the reader can easily identify; or the fantasy world is fundamentally like ours, differing only in specific details. American teenagers will not automatically identify with a fussy English country squire like Bilbo, so the success of The Hobbit depends on a tension between familiar and exotic things that must be established in the first few pages.
The first sentence, "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit," introduces a strange creature and an apparently unattractive setting. But the next paragraphs deny this initial reaction. Hobbits love comfort in much the same way we do; they are fond of visitors, food, and clothing; they have families and relatives; some are richer than others--in short, they are very human. By the fourth paragraph hobbits seem normal, and other folk--dwarves, fairies, and Big People--are strange. From here on, adventures take place in a world beyond Bilbo's doorstep, a world which seems as strange to him as it does to us. We share not only his sense of wonder, but also the values that make him love his home.

Chapter 2: "Roast Mutton"
Thorin and Company set off on their expedition, and Bilbo joins them. At first things go well, but on the first rainy night they seek shelter and blunder into three trolls. Bilbo and the dwarves are captured by the trolls, but Gandalf outwits them and they turn to stone at daybreak. The expedition plunders the trolls' hoard. Gandalf and Thorin take swords, Bilbo, takes a small knife, and they bury the trolls' gold.
Comprehension Questions

1.What are the terms of Bilbo's contract?

2.How does Bilbo know that the three people are trolls?

3.How is Bilbo caught?

4.How does Gandalf rescue Bilbo and the dwarves?

5.What do they take from the trolls' hoard?

esteemed (41)
paraphernalia (42)
applicable (48)

Discussion and Essay Topics

1.Why is it important that Gandalf is not present when the expedition meets the trolls?

2.The trolls are evil, bestial, and disgusting. But do they seem mostly human or nonhuman?

3.Is strength or intelligence more valuable so far in this book?


Critical Commentary: Quests and the Development of the Hero
The Hobbit follows the typical pattern of the Quest in many ways. Like most quest heroes, Bilbo begins the story ignorant and untried, and he undergoes a series of preliminary adventures which help him in two ways. First, they give him the opportunity to learn about the world and the extent and proper use of his own powers. Second, they bring him the friends and talisman that he will need in order to prevail in his greatest adventure, the culmination of his quest.
Because in a well-constructed quest story the development of wisdom and self-restraint is equally as important as the growth of physical prowess, the quest story (as Bettleheim points out in The Uses of Enchantment) is often concerned with maturation, and the lessons it teaches are those of adulthood.

The specific moral of an individual quest story can usually be found by examining two areas: the hero's motivation for acting, and the final reward he achieves. The most obvious indication of a hero's development--the skills he acquires--can be misleading, for most quest stories are concerned more with virtue (which can be defined as the proper application of whatever skills or powers are available) than with the skills themselves. Bilbo, for example, never becomes a "hero" in the conventional sense (see p. 33 for Gandalf's definition of a hero). In part this is because he accepts the fact that he is too small to become a warrior, but more importantly it is because he deplores violence and lacks ambition for power.
While the ending of The Hobbit--in which Bilbo finds that each assumed culminating adventure in fact leads to further complications--is a variation on the typical quest pattern, Bilbo's journey to Erebor is a skillful realization of this pattern. Throughout the story, the best way to evaluate Bilbo's development is by comparing him to the dwarves. At this point (Chapter 2), Bilbo's only skill is his stealth. He is as easily disheartened by rain and discomfort as the dwarves, and his attempt to steal the troll's purse, like his original decision to come on the expedition, is motivated by an irrational pride. Still, as a reward for surviving the adventure and finding the trolls' key, Bilbo receives the first of two talisman, his short sword. Gandalf's role in all this is crucial. As Bilbo's mentor, he reserves his power for situations that Bilbo cannot yet--or ever--deal with. Rescue by Gandalf is therefore a sign of Bilbo's lack of skill or knowledge. Bilbo's conduct during later adventures, when Gandalf is not present, will show how much he has progressed.

Chapter 3: "A Short Rest"
The expedition comes to Rivendell, where Elrond and his elves live in the Last Homely House. Elrond explains Thror's Map to the dwarves and identifies Gandalf's and Thorin's swords as the famous blades Orcrist and Glamdring, made by elves for the ancient goblin wars.
Comprehension Questions

1.Why is Rivendell hard to find?

2.When is Durin's Day?

drear (55)
glade (57)
faggot (58)
bannock (58)
palpitating (60)
cleave (61)

Discussion and Essay Topics

1.What is the difference between the way Bilbo and the dwarves react to Rivendell? How does
Elrond feel about the expedition, and what does he say about the dwarves' love of gold and the
wickedness of dragons? What values are important to the elves?

2.Who is Elrond? What is the effect of giving a detailed history of a minor character? (It gives depth to the Secondary Creation.)


Chapter 4: "Over Hill and Under Hill"
As they cross the Misty Mountains, a storm drives the expedition into a cave, where they are attacked by goblins. Bilbo and the dwarves are captured and driven into the goblins' underground halls. There Gandalf rescues them and slays the Great Goblin, but as they flee from the goblins Bilbo is knocked unconscious.
Comprehension Questions

1.Why does the expedition take shelter in the cave?

2.Why isn't Gandalf captured?

3.What do goblins usually do with their prisoners?

4.How does Gandalf rescue Bilbo and the dwarves?

deception (64)
shirk (69)
quaff (69)
inconveniencing (71)
gnash (71)

Discussion and Essay Topics

1.What does Tolkien tell us about goblins? (Their sounds and actions, but nothing about their
appearance except that they have hands, heads, teeth and flat feet.) Because he does not

describe their appearance, we must use our imaginations, and this involves us more actively in
the fantasy. Discuss what you think goblins look like, and what in the book gives you that idea.

2."It is not unlikely that they (goblins) invented some of the machines that have since troubled the world, especially the ingenious devices for killing large numbers of people at once."(p.70) Can
you take this statement seriously? Why do you think fantasy is often anti-technological? (It seeks
to emphasize the importance of personal effort.)


Chapter 5: "Riddles in the Dark"
Lost and alone inside the Misty Mountains, Bilbo gathers his courage. He finds a ring and puts it in his pocket. Then he encounters Gollum, a loathsome but pathetic creature. They play a riddle-game to determine if Gollum will show Bilbo the way out or eat him instead. Bilbo wins the contest, but Gollum then realizes that Bilbo has his ring, which confers invisibility. Bilbo follows Gollum to the surface and evades the goblins guarding the gate.
Comprehension Questions

1.How does Bilbo know his sword was made by elves?

2.Why is it good that Bilbo lost his matches?

3.How does Gollum guess that Bilbo has his ring?

4.How do the Goblins know that someone is at the gate?

5.Which of the dwarves is the most surprised to see Bilbo?

subterranean (78)
unbeknown (79)
flummoxed (79)
chestnut (81, 83)
antiquity (86)

Discussion and Essay Topics

1.How are Bilbo and Gollum alike? (Their motives for the riddle-game, p. 80; their ability to guess
each other's riddles; their abilities underground; their living in holes.) Can you call Gollum evil?
Discuss the concept that Gollum is the negative side of Bilbo, with which he must come to terms
before he can achieve his identity. (To bring home the concept of the negative side, compare this
chapter and Luke Skywalker's descent into the cave during his training by Yoda, in The Empire
Strikes Back

2.What skills does Bilbo show in dealing with Gollum?

3."No great leap for a man, but a leap in the dark." (p.39) Discuss this quotation with respect to
Bilbo's decision not to kill Gollum, and his newfound courage.


Critical Commentary: Plot Structure, Repetition of Motifs, and the Development of the Hero
Chapter 5, in which Bilbo successfully crosses the Misty Mountains by his own efforts, marks the turning point in his development. Up to now he's been little more than baggage, as the dwarves often point out; his only accomplishments--finding the key to the trolls' caves and warning Gandalf of the goblin attack--are trivial although useful.
The first three pages of Chapter 5 detail Bilbo's transformation. First, he finds the ring, his second and greatest talisman. Slowly he shakes off his initial self-pity and despair, regains his common sense (which includes realizing that his customary means of self comforts such as smoking are inappropriate to this situation), and finally he is comforted by the presence of his first talisman, the elvish sword. Facing up to his plight, his final decision--if you can't go back or sideways, then go forward--is typical of the determination and essential optimism that constitute hobbitish courage. Tolkien's catalog of Bilbo's skills stresses a hobbit's innate abilities--familiarity with tunnels, good sense of direction, stealth, toughness, and "a fund of wisdom and wise sayings"--with the implication that Bilbo has developed to the point where he can use these skills effectively.

The extent of Bilbo's growth is marked by the repetition of motifs between Bilbo's adventures west (Chapters 2 to 5) and east (Chapters 6 to 9) of the Misty Mountains. The dominant event or setting of each chapter is parallel (attack by enemies; hospitality at an important male's house; attack by enemies; underground capture and escape) and in every case we see Bilbo acting with confidence and effectiveness east of the Mountains but ineptly west of the Mountains. In Chapter 2, Bilbo is captured while sneaking around the trolls' campfire and is easily rescued by Gandalf; in Chapter 6 he sneaks into the dwarves' camp undetected and is later rescued from a situation in which even Gandalf is helpless. In Chapter 3, Bilbo relies heavily on Gandalf's advice; in Chapter 7, he behaves prudently and Gandalf names him head of the expedition. In Chapter 4, Bilbo is as imprudent as the dwarves and once more must be rescued by Gandalf and protected by the swords Beater and Biter; in Chapter 8 he is never captured, rescues the dwarves single-handedly, and names his own sword Sting. Finally, Bilbo's ability in Chapter 5 to win the riddle-contest and rescue himself foreshadows his ability in Chapter 9 to outwit a palace full of elves and execute a complex escape plan involving the entire expedition.
The third part of the book, the adventures at the Lonely Mountain, repeat many of these motifs, but in a less schematic fashion, as befits the growing complexity of Bilbo's adventure. For example, Bilbo's first trip down the tunnel recalls his actions in the tunnels of the goblins and the Elvenking. Gandalf's outwitting of the trolls and Bilbo's riddle-game with Gollum prepare Bilbo to confront Smaug. His decision to go down the tunnel the third time (p. 223) recalls his determination to go forward in the goblin tunnels (p. 77). This varied experiences prepares Bilbo to deal with increasingly complex moral issues. West of the Mountains Bilbo encounters beings who are purely good (Elrond) or purely evil (goblins and trolls). East of the Mountains, though, Beorn is good but brutish, and the Elvenking is good but overly harsh. Finally, at the Lonely Mountain Bilbo must deal with Smaug's attractive malice, Thorn's intractable greed and pride, and Bard's grim integrity.
The larger plot structure of The Hobbit is, much like traditional fantasy, cyclical. As the subtitle There and Back Again suggests, the most common structure for a developmental fantasy is for the hero to begin at home, develop skills during the course of a journey, fulfill his quest, and return home with his understanding increased by his adventures. The Hobbit begins and ends in Bilbo's home with a conversation between Bilbo and Gandolf, and the contrast between these two scenes displays Bilbo's development.

Chapter 6: "Out of the frying-pan into the Fire"
Bilbo finds that he is on the east side of the Mountains. Using his ring, he enters the dwarves' camp undetected. They flee down the mountainside but are overtaken at night by goblins and Wargs and trapped in five fir trees in a clearing. The goblins set fire to the trees, but the expedition is rescued by the Eagles of the Misty Mountains, although as usual Bilbo is almost left behind.
Comprehension Questions

1.How does Bilbo know he is on the east side of the Mountains?

2.What is the proverb that Bilbo invents?

3.Why does the Lord of the Eagles notice the expedition?

4.Why won't the Eagles fly near where men live?

sorrel (101)
marjoram (101)
bracken (102)
larch (104)
proverb (103)

Discussion and Essay Topics

1.Would Bilbo try to rescue the dwarves if they were still inside the Mountains? Would they try to
rescue him?

2.Why doesn't Bilbo tell the dwarves about his ring? Do you consider this lying?

3.What does it mean for our opinion of Bilbo's courage and prowess that Gandalf, his mentor, must be rescued by the Eagles?


Chapter 7: "Queer Lodgings"
The Eagles carry the expedition to the Carrock, a rock in the middle of the Great River. From there the expedition goes to the house of Beorn, a skin-changer fierce to his enemies but gentle with animals. Gandalf wins Beorn's hospitality by introducing the dwarves in small groups while he tells the story of their adventures. After two nights at Beorn's house, the expedition receives his advice and departs for Mirkwood. At the forest-gate, Gandalf leaves the expedition.
Comprehension Questions

1.What is a skin-changer?

2.What does Beorn eat?

3.How does Gandalf get Beorn to shelter thirteen dwarves?

4.Why isn't Beorn interested in the dwarves tales?

5.What is the most important advice that Beorn and Gandalf give about Mirkwood?

carrock (117)
appalling (118)
tippet (118)
dale (119)
trestle (126)
mead (127)
withered (128)
stark (128)
hart (135)

Discussion and Essay Topics

1.Compare the expedition's arrival at Beorn's house with the Unexpected Party of Chapter 1. Note
that now Bilbo is in on the plot. While both hosts have to be cajoled, it is for very different
reasons. What are they?

2.Discuss Beorn's character. What are his virtues? Why is he suspicious of strangers? What about
him seems vicious? In what ways is he gentle? How does Bilbo come to understand him? Is there
a problem with being a grim man in a grim land?

3.Why is it necessary to the story that Gandalf leave the expedition?


Chapter 8: " Flies and Spider"
Mirkwood is dark and unpleasant. The expedition runs low on food, water, and hope. Bombur falls into the enchanted stream and sleeps for four days. When Balin sees firelight off the path, the dwarves and Bilbo go toward it. They are scattered when they interrupt the elven feast. The dwarves are captured by giant spiders. Bilbo rescues them and slays many spiders, but Thorin is captured by the Wood-elves.
Comprehension Questions

1.What do the dwarves shoot with their bows?

2.When Bilbo climbs the tree, why doesn't he see an end to the forest?

3.What does Bombur dream of?

4.What does Bilbo name his sword?

5.How does Bilbo rescue the dwarves?

inquisitive (140)
hind (145)
vexed (145)
accursed (147)
disquieting (146)

sawn (150)
loathsome (155)
warrant (155)
quoits (156)
gloaming (165)
thongs (166)

Discussion and Essay Topics

1.What are the unattractive features of Mirkwood? Do you think the forest is evil? What about the
enchanted stream?

2.After Gandalf leaves, who become the leaders of the expedition?

3.What makes the expedition lose hope? Why is their despair unjustified?

4.What heroic acts does Bilbo perform? (Don't forget his naming of his sword.)

5.Why does Bilbo tell the dwarves about his magic ring? What does his reluctance to do so tell us?
What do you think he learns from this?

6.Discuss the ancient feud between dwarves and elves? Whose fault is it? If neither side is in the
right, how can you tell the difference between good and evil?


Chapter 9: "Barrels Out of Bond"
Lost in Mirkwood, the dwarves are captured by the Wood-elves and imprisoned because they will not explain their mission. Bilbo, invisible, follows them into the underground palace of the Elvenking. He finds Thorin and later discovers the water-gate, the palace's delivery entrance. When the chief guard becomes drunk, Bilbo steals his keys, releases the dwarves, and hides them in empty barrels. The barrels are thrown into the river to float to Lake-town; Bilbo rides atop one barrel.
Comprehension Questions

1.Are the dwarves imprisoned?

2.How does Bilbo get in and out of the palace?

3.How many entrances does the palace have?

4.Where is the elves' wine made?

portcullis (171)
flagon (173)
potent (173)
vintage (173)
toss-pot (177)
kine (178)

Discussion and Essay Topics

1.Why does the Elvenking imprison the dwarves? Why won't Thorin tell the Elvenking what his
mission is? Define pride and greed?

2.Is Bilbo a burglar now? How does he feel about stealing (p. 181)?

3.The escape plan is completely Bilbo's. How good is it? How much does it depend on luck? Does
he deserve this luck?


Chapter 10: 'A Warm Welcome'
Wet and bedraggled, the expedition arrives at Lake-town, a trading town of men. They are welcomed by the master, and the townspeople recall prophecies of the downfall of the dragon and the consequent enrichment of the town. After two weeks of rest the expedition departs for the Lonely Mountain.
Comprehension Questions

1.Why does the master welcome the expedition?

2.Why are the dwarves happy? Why is Bilbo unhappy?

3.What does the Elvenking think will happen to the dwarves?

4.What is the Master's reaction when Thorin announces his departure?

ominous (184)
promontory (185)
gammer (188)
vagabond (189)
enmity (190)

Discussion and Essay Topics

1."Some sang too that Thror and Thrain would come back one day and gold would flow in rivers
through mountain gates, and all that land would be filled with new song and new laughter. But this pleasant legend did not much affect their daily business" (185-86). Discuss the history of Lake-town and the beliefs of its inhabitants. What does it mean that they do not take their legends seriously?

2.Compare the attitudes of the men of Lake-town, the Master, and the Elvenking to Thorin's
mission. Who is reasonable? Who is silly? Then consider Bilbo's attitude. Keeping in mind that
elves are renowned for wisdom, how wise is Bilbo?


Chapter 11: "On the Doorstep"
The expedition finds the Side-door but cannot open it, and they all become gloomy. One evening Bilbo hears a thrush cracking snails and realized that this is the sign that the door will open. He calls the dwarves, and Thorin opens the door with his key.
Comprehension Questions

1.Why won't the men of Lake-town stay with the dwarves?

2.Where does the expedition make each of their three camps?

3.Why does the door appear?

disembarked (194)
waning (195)
lintel (197)

Discussion and Essay Topics

1.Begin to make a detailed map (or model) of the Mountain. Mark the appearance, vegetation, etc. of each area and the events that occur there.

2.In what way does Bilbo show that he has more spirit left than the dwarves? Why does he?


Chapter 12: "Inside Information"
Bilbo enters the Side-door and, overcoming his fear, goes down a tunnel to Smaug's lair. Overwhelmed by the splendor of the dragon-hoard, he steals a large cup and escapes. The theft arouses Smaug, who goes through the Front Gate, attacks the expedition on the mountainside, and drives them into the tunnel. Bilbo volunteers to explore the lair again. This time he has a perilous conversation with Smaug, during which he sees an unarmored patch on the dragon's breast. Smaug later attacks their camp, but thanks to Bilbo's foreboding the dwarves are safe, although trapped, inside the tunnel.
Comprehension Questions

1.Who goes partway down the tunnel with Bilbo?

2.What does Bilbo take from the hoard?

3.Bilbo quotes two of his father's sayings. What are they?

4.Who is the real leader of the expedition?

5.What about Bilbo puzzles Smaug?

6.What is the most important thing Bilbo learns from Smaug?

7.What proverb does Bilbo invent?

8.What is the Arkenstone?

resource (203)
smoldering (210)
grievous (214)
cartage (215)
impenetrable (216)
waistcoat (216)
foreboding (219)
stealth (221)


Discussion and Essay Topics

1."Some [dwarves] are decent enough people like Thorin and Company, if you don't expect too
much" (204). What can Bilbo expect from the dwarves?

2."Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did...he fought the real battle in the tunnel
alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait" (205). According to this passage, what
is true courage? What abilities and character traits does Bilbo have? How do his earlier
adventures prepare him for his confrontation with Smaug?

3.Is it wise to steal the cup? Why does Bilbo do it?

4.Describe the characteristics of dragons. (Begin with greedy, wily, hostile, and riddle loving, and
go on to vengeful, treacherous, fond of flattery, and breeders of distrust and dissension.) What is
the dragon-spell? Why are dwarves so susceptible to it? (In this book the traditional motif of the
cursed dragon-hoard is changed to the idea that so much treasure brings out the evil and foolish
side of dwarves--and even elves and men.) In this and the following chapters, trace the changing
effects of the treasure on the dwarves and on Bilbo.

5.Explain the names that Bilbo gives himself when speaking with Smaug: "I come from under the
hill. . .I am the clue finder, the web-cutter, the stinging fly. I was chosen for the lucky number,"
etc. (212-213).


Chapter 13: "Not at Home"
Encouraged by Bilbo, the dwarves go down into the hall and find Smaug gone. Bilbo finds and hides the Arkenstone. The dwarves celebrate their recovery of the treasure. Bilbo reminds them that Smaug is still a peril, and they move to a watchtower on a spur of the Mountain.
Comprehension Questions

1.What does Thorin give Bilbo?

2.Which hall leads to the Front Gate?

3.Why do the dwarves leave the underground halls?

pallid (226)
figured (228)
dominion (233)
perpetually (233)

Discussion and Essay Topics

1."Anyway the only way out is down" (224). What earlier statement by Bilbo does this echo? When does Bilbo's courage assert itself most?

2.Why does Bilbo keep the Arkenstone? Does he have a right t it?


Chapter 14: "Fire and Water"
Smaug flies to avenge himself on the men of Lake-town. He is destroying the town when the thrush tells Bard the Bowman, a descendant of the former Lords of Dale, about the bare spot on Smaug's breast. Bard slays Smaug and directs his people's efforts to feed and shelter themselves, although he plans eventually to seize Smaug's hoard. When the Elvenking hears of Smaug's death, he sets out to seize the hoard himself, but goes instead to Lake-town when he hears of its distress. Eleven days after Smaug's death, a combined army of men and elves marches on the Lonely Mountain.
Comprehension Questions

1.Who is the guard "with a grim voice" (234)?

2.Why do the men of Esgaroth destroy the bridges?

3.Why can Bard understand the thrush? (See pp. 217-218 and 237)

4.Why are the people of Esgaroth angry with Thorin?

drear (234)
foiled (235)
quench 9235)
laden (236)
prophesying (237)
gledes (238)
eminent (239)
benefactor (239)
recompense (239)

Discussion and Essay Topics

1.Characterize Bard and the Master. Who speaks more convincingly? What does their appearance
suggest about them? Explain Bard's pessimism. Who has more courage? Who has more
leadership? Do you believe that some people are natural leaders? Can this ability be inherited?

2.Why does the Elvenking set out from his halls? Why does he go to Esgaroth? What does this tell
you about the value he places on treasure?


Chapter 15: "The Gathering of the Clouds"
Summoned by the thrush, Carc, a raven of an ancient family friendly to the dwarves, tells the dwarves of the death of Smaug and the gathering of men and elves. Carca advises Thorin to deal with Bard, but Thorin sends for aid from his cousin Dain and fortifies the Front Gate. Thorin denies that Bard has a right to any of the treasure, and Bard declares the Mountain Besieged. Bilbo is sick of the whole business.
Comprehension Questions

1.How did Ravenhill get its name?

2.How old is Roac?

3.When does Thorin first name himself King under the Mountain?

carrion (243)
coveted (244)
decrepit (244)

amends (245)
fells (249)

Discussion and Essay Topics

1.From the very beginning, Bilbo has assumed that the climax of the adventure would be the
recovery of the treasure. Then he realizes that Smaug must also be dealt with. Now he finds (p.
246) that even Smaug's death does not end the adventure. Re-examine your earlier definitions of
what an adventure is.

2.Is gold worth fighting for? Why won't Thorin deal with Bard and Elvenking? Evaluate Bard's three topics for discussion (p. 250) and Thorin's answer; note Thorin's complete lack of pity for the Lake-men's distress.

3.Discuss the difference between the content, rhythms, and music of dwarf-songs (pp. 25, 27, 238, 248) and elf-songs (pp. 57, 279-281).


Chapter 16: "A Thief in the Night"
Despite Roac's counsel, Thorin prepares for war. To break the impasse, Bilbo gives the Arkenstone to Bard and the Elvenking. He meets Gandalf in their camp. Bilbo returns to the Mountain despite the Elvenking's warning about Thorin's anger.
Comprehension Questions

1.How does Bilbo leave the Mountain without being caught?

2.What is Bilbo's plan to avoid war?

3.What old friend does Bilbo meet in the camp?

bade (253)

Discussion and Essay Topics

1.Why does Thorin reject Roac's advice?

2.Just as the moment in the tunnel ( p. 205) is Bilbo's bravest, giving up the Arkenstone is his
noblest. Why does he do it? Would any other character in the story be capable of this? Why does
he return to the Mountain?


Chapter 17: "The Clouds Burst"
Thorin promises to give to Bard Bilbo's share of the treasure in exchange for the Arkenstone. Dain's army arrives before the exchange is made, and Bard refuses to let it pass into the Mountain. The two sides are about to join battle when both are attacked by a vast army of goblins and Wargs. Dwarves, elves, and men unite in the face of their common enemy, and the Battle of Five Armies begins. At first the good forces trap the goblins and Wargs between two shoulders of the Mountain, but they in turn are attacked from above by goblins climbing over the Mountain. Thorin sallies forth from the Gate and rallies his side, but his advance is blocked by the bodyguard of Bolg, the goblin leader, and Thorin is surrounded. Bilbo does not fight, but stays, invisible, near the Elvenking. He mourns the coming defeat and death of his friends, but then he sees that the Eagles are coming. At that moment he is knocked unconscious by a stone.
Comprehension Questions

1.What terms do Thorin and Bard come to?

2.What army makes the first attack?

3.Name the armies in the Battle of Five Armies.

4.What stops Thorin's advance?

5.Where does Bilbo take his final stand? Why?

hauberk (263)
mattocks (263)
reconciliation (265)
precipice (268)
scimitar (268)
eyries (270)
smote (270)

Discussion and Essay Topics

1.Trace Thorin's moral degeneration through the last several chapters. Contrast his current attitude with the Elvenking's statement "Long will I tarry, ere I begin this war for gold."

2.Which would be a greater evil--the killing of the armies of men, elves, and dwarves by the goblins, or a war between men, elves, and dwarves? Why?

3.During this battle, which armies have soldiers that kill themselves or their allies?


Chapter 18: "The Return Journey"
Bilbo comes to his senses the next day and is brought to the camp. On his deathbed, Thorin makes amends to Bilbo. The outcome of the battle is retold: Beorn rescued the wounded Thorin and then killed Bolg, but the battle was not won until the Eagles cleared the mountainside of goblins. Dain, the new King under the Mountain, makes a generous settlement with Bard. Bilbo and Gandalf begin the return journey and part, in turn, from the dwarves, the Elvenking, and Beorn.
Comprehension Questions

1.Why isn't Bilbo found until the day after the battle?

2.Who turned the tide of the battle?

3.What gifts does Dain give?

4.What becomes of Beorn in later years?

literally (271)
amend (273)
mustering (273)
trackless (274)

Discussion and Essay Topics

1.There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage ...and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world" (p. 273). Discuss Bilbo's character now that his adventure is
completed. Why does he refuse the treasure? Why is he weary of his adventure?

2.Examine the final views we get of Thorin on his deathbed and in his tomb. Is his quest fulfilled?
Why is his death necessary? What lesson does he learn? Does he deserve our respect or

3.Examine in detail the various demands and offers made by Bard and the dwarves (and the elves). How does the final solution match what each party wants and deserves? What is the difference between Dain's gift and Thorin's promises?


Chapter 19: "The Last Stage"
Bilbo and Gandalf come to Rivendell, where Gandalf confers with Elrond. Bilbo takes the treasure from the troll hoard. Finally Bilbo comes home just in time to save his hole and belongings from being auctioned. He settles down contentedly, although he finds that he is no longer considered respectable. In an epilogue, Balin and Gandalf visit him several years later.
Comprehension Questions

1.Where was Gandalf while the expedition crossed Mirkwood?

2.How long do Bilbo and Gandalf stay at Rivendell?

3.Why do they walk at the end of their journey?

4.Why are Bilbo's goods being auctioned?

5.What changes does Balin notice in Bilbo?

6.What happened to the old Master of Lake-town?

lore (280)

effects (284)

Discussion and Essay Topics

1.Look at the elves' song (pp. 279-80). Describe the character and values of elves.

2."He gained-well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end" (p. 16). " 'My dear Bilbo
!'{Gandalf} said 'Something is the matter with you! You are not the hobbit that you were'" (p284).
What does Bilbo gain from his adventure? (Don't forget to include the ability and desire to make
poetry.) What is the difference in the way his home is dear to him now?

3."'You don't really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit'?" (p.286). Then what does manage them?

4.Why is Bilbo pleased that he is "only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!" (p.287)?


Critical Commentary: Bilbo's Luck
Bilbo is originally chosen the "lucky number," so that Thorin and Company will not be an unlucky
thirteen(see pp. 31, 213).During the course of the expedition, Gandalf remarks several times that Bilbo is extraordinary lucky. Some of his luck seems to be the deserved reward for Bilbo's courage and determination. For example, after attempting to find his own way out of the goblins tunnel, confronting Gollum, and evading the orc-guard, Bilbo certainly deserves to come out on the east side of the Mountains. Similarly, after escaping from the spiders, the expedition needs the luck of being captured by the elves, especially since it turns out that their straying from the path was necessary, because the east end of the road was abandoned (p.184). Other lucky events, notably Bilbo's finding of the troll's key and the ring, are necessary to give Bilbo talismans that enable him to confront enemies who are larger, more powerful, and more numerous than himself. In general, then Bilbo's luck should be seen as a plot device that reinforces the theme of Bilbo's growing self-awareness and self-confidence.
However, some of the fortunate events in The Hobbit seem to involve much more than one hobbit's personal luck. Four events in particular should be considered. First is the expedition's rescue from the burning fir trees by the Eagles at a point when even Gandalf expects to die. Second is the expedition's arrival at the Side-door in one of the very few years when Durin's Day occurs. Third, although Bilbo deserves the credit for discovering Smaug's bare spot, the combination of the bare spot itself, the talking thrush and a heroic descendant of Girion of Dale extends far beyond Bilbo's own luck. Finally, after Bilbo's attempt at mediation fails and Dain attacks Bard and the Elvenking, only the extraordinary event of the Goblin attack restores moral harmony.
Where Bilbo's personal luck is related to the uses of the fantasy presented by Bettelheim, the larger luck that surrounds him can best be explained in Tolkien's term as a series of eucatastrophes that illustrate the workings of Providence. Gandalf's final comments about prophecies and luck, ending with his comment that Bilbo is "only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all" (p.287), are the closest Tolkien comes to disclosing this providential structure in The Hobbit. Bilbo's joyous and pragmatic acceptance of this structure--his recognition that he is capable of great deeds but nonetheless dependent on the protection of God--is one of the two spiritual insights required of dwellers in Middle-earth. (The other, a selfless love of the Creator and the Creation is usually measured in terms of "elvishness." Bilbo, attracted to elves from the very beginning and eventually named elf-friend, achieves this insight very easily.)
The proof of this providential pattern lies outside The Hobbit. The identity of the Eagles as messengers of God (as well as the significance of their coming out of the West in the Battle of Five Armies) is made clear in The Silmarillion; the importance of Bilbo's decision not to kill Gollum is a major motif of The Lord of The Rings; and the geopolitical consequences of the death of Smaug are best explained in "The Quest of Erebor," one of the fragments in Unfinished Tales. Yet the basic principle can be seen quite clearly within The Hobbit. Although on the surface it is stronger than good, evil always provides the means of its own defeat: Gollum's ring aids Bilbo, and Smaug in his arrogance shows his bare patch. Triumphing over evil requires not prowess but fortitude, humility, hope and unshakable virtue. Gollum is corrupted by malice, and the dragon-spell turns Thorin's pride to arrogance, deceit, and greed. But Bilbo and Bard, tutored by Gandalf, the Elvenking, and their own hearts, learn the true value of treasure and hatred, and combining against evil they destroy it.



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