The Hobbit Group Read: Weeks 2 & 3

As I informed two weeks ago, I’m participating in The Hobbit group read hosted by Writers’ Bloc. I am answering questions from week 2 and 3, most of which pertain to important plot details. (I remember that time, not too long ago, when I said I would post the second and third week’s Hobbit questions by Thursday. Is today Thursday? No, it is not Thursday; it’s Friday.)

You are warned: if you continue reading this post and have NOT read The Hobbit, spoilers will taint your eyes, misery will suck every ounce of joy from you, and bad things will happen.

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The Hobbit Group Read: Week 1

Wow, am I ever late! (I’m late, I’m late! For a very important date! Wait; wrong story.) I am currently reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, as I decided to join a group read hosted by Writers’ Bloc. Each week, participants read a selected number of chapters and then later discuss what was read, and, well… My post is late! I did read the first six chapters beforehand, but the chance to answer this week’s questions didn’t present itself until now.

Inkeri‘s questions:
1. In the book Bilbo gets visited by 13 strange dwarves, and just lets them in to eat his cakes and drink tea. In the modern world it would be really weird if people just started barging in your home. Why didn’t Bilbo just tell them to go?

  • Of course I would think it odd if uninvited people started knocking to be let in my house. Not only that, but to expect the service of food and drink from me. When the dwarves came a’knocking, I assumed Bilbo’s nature either timid, baffled, or too concerned about attending to these strangers as a good host to say anything. Hobbits make for such jolly, hearty, and a mostly polite group as well, so I didn’t put much thought into Bilbo’s lack of voiced curiosity. “Come along in, and have some tea!” he says, which is a front he keeps up despite his annoyance. Whatever Bilbo’s reasons, I enjoyed the event’s peculiarity — not a bad way for a book to reel me in, either.

2. Where would the dwarves and Bilbo be if Gandalf wasn’t with them? It’s seems to me that it’s him who saves them from the scary situations.

  • Gandalf always disappears without notice and returns mysteriously, just at the perfect moment to save his traveling companions. The thought has occurred to me: if not for Gandalf, how far would the dwarves and Bilbo make it on their journey? Not far, perhaps, as it’s very possible that the trolls would have been the last creatures our group would have seen. If not that, then surely the goblins would have gotten them. When danger unfolds and surrounds them, it’s Gandalf who find a path toward safety. I must admit that I like to see Gandalf’s magical ability, although I felt equally impressed when Bilbo found his own get-away from the goblins. Luckily he found and took Gollum’s ring, otherwise: fat chance of escape, Bilbo!

3. Bilbo plays a game of riddles with Gollum. He ends up winning by asking “What have I got in my pockets?”, which Gollum is unable to answer. Do you think it was a fair, as it wasn’t actually a riddle?

  • If one wants to play strictly by following rules, then no, but: a hobbit’s got to do what a hobbit’s got to do for survival! And if that means tricking your cannibalistic opponent, then so be it. I won’t deny that I’d do the same as Bilbo to gain the upper hand, although I’m more likely to panic and the let adrenaline empower a good punch and then — flee!

Writers’ Bloc‘s questions:
4. For those of you who haven’t read The Hobbit before, is the tone of writing one you’d expect from a book that has been loudly proclaimed as a classic? And for those of you who have read it before, how did it feel – like coming home to a much loved book, or were you surprised by how much you’d forgotten?

  • I imagined Tokien’s tone more serious and dramatic-like, so I’m surprised by the light tone and easy readability — how even  though peril is involved, the writing manages to radiate a fun, adventurous vibe. I’m quite thankful for it, as my (pleasant) surprise stems from my younger self’s perspective, and especially that of Jackson’s LotR films. I picked up The Hobbit only once before. I was about twelve, and Peter Jackson’s LotR films had recently come out or had finished. Considering how I found myself absorbed into each movie, I thought to read this book. After all, I enjoyed the films so I should enjoy a book I’ve heard referred to as the LotR’s prequel, right? But I could not have felt more disinterested in The Hobbit back then. The Hobbit being my first Tolkien read, I also draw expectations from Jackson’s films, which present complexity and a mature story. Tone — and whether I like it — depends on what my mood searches for, which can change often. It just so happens that I enjoy the light-hearted atmosphere at present!

5. We’ve seen quite a few songs so far. Do you pay attention to them, or do you skip them altogether? Do you like how silly they are, or do you think them an interruption?

  • But who would ever skip the songs?! (Looking in Green Paw-Paw’s direction, cough.) Whenever I flip or skim ahead to see what awaits (as if no one does that!), I get excited when I spy another song. No one judge me, but I think they are especially fun to read out loud. I understand why others prefer skipping over the songs, however — all the quicker to back to the actual story, yeah?

6. What has been your favourite scene, so far?

  • Gollum’s scene, by far! While the closest I have come to Tolkien is through film (until now), Gollum has always been a favorite. Yes, he is absolutely mad, cruel, and a frightening creature to be around, but I mostly pity his character. All the time spent with no one but himself to keep company, he’s a rather sad and unloved thing… I’d like give him a caring pat on the shoulder, but I wouldn’t ever dare.