Friday, November 30, 2012

The Hobbit: Week Four

"There are no safe paths in this part of the world. Remember you are over
the Edge of the Wild now, and in for all sorts of fun wherever you go."

The Hobbit audiobook cover
I am participating in the "The Hobbit" Read-a-Long instigated by Unputdownables.  (I know the two the's seem redundant, but the title has one!)  As I previously mentioned, this is my first time reading The Hobbit! Some of my observations may seem like no-brainers, but I hope you can forgive my naive perspective.

This week we were to read chapters 7 and 8.  This sees the adventurers coming to Beorn's Hall, parting ways with Gandalf, and dealing with forest spiders.

Of course, the journey actually begins with the eagles transporting them to a great rock.  Luckily, Gandalf knows the proper response to the eagles' formal parting words:
"'Farewell!' they cried, 'wherever you fare, till your eyries receive you at the journey's end!' That is the polite thing to say among eagles.
'May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks,' answered Gandalf, who knew the correct reply."
Manners and proper etiquette seem to figure into The Hobbit repeatedly.  Missing them creates conflict, while following them seems to yield the best results.  All I can think is, how very English!

It figures in again when Gandolf brings the group in to meet Beorn.  He is conscious of what will threaten him, and has the dwarves arrive in small groups.  Anything not to make him angry. 

Tolkien introduces another type of creature in this chapter - the "skin-changer:"
 "He changes his skin: sometimes he is a huge black bear, sometimes he is a great strong black-haired man with huge arms and a great beard."
Beorn ends up being a huge asset to the travelers, as he sends them off with supplies and food.  I found a few recipes for twice-baked cakes that I might try making eventually, just for kicks.

We learn more about Gandalf in this chapter, how clever he is, particularly in his storytelling.
 "The interruptions had really made Beorn more interested in the story, and the story had kept him from sending the dwarves off at once like suspicious beggars."
All I could think when I read this, is that Tolkien is Gandalf.  Or Gandalf is Tolkien.  Either way, they both seem to understand how to keep us listening, even if they are intentionally doing so.

Gandalf just can't wait to leave.  "After all this is not my adventure," he warns them as they approach the Carrock.  Still, the dwarves protest when he leaves them at the edge of Mirkwood, the greatest of the forests in the Northern world.  It becomes clear by the end of chapter 8 that this is largely because the dwarves need a leader outside of themselves.  Against all expectations, they start looking to Bilbo for answers and direction, especially after Thorin is kidnapped by wood-elves, which is how this section ends.

1 comment:

  1. Somehow I forgot all about Beorn. It's been ages since I read the book though. I'm going to start it tonight. I figure I'll be done tomorrow, or maybe Monday at the latest.


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