The Hobbit and the Fellowship of the Ring: So Many Questions, So Little Time #PtBiB

Behind, behind … I’m so far behind.  For a lady who was so excited about this LotR group read, I am not doing nearly all that I planned.  Thankfully, sj at Snobbery and David at As You Were are totally overachievers awesome at keeping up with this project, so you need to go read their blogs for the best summaries, great analysis of story line and characters and a round-up of the other bloggers who are much better than I in the group-participation department.  (Special shout-out here to Kate Sherrod at Kate of Mind – her blog is awesome not only in the LotR department but in general, so go check her out!)

I’m pretty sure sj and David are secretly snickering at how far behind I lag – the way the dwarves all rolled their eyes at Bilbo.  Or, I’m imagining it, because I have  a guilty conscience.  Either way, it gave me a reason to Storify something.  Apparently, I accidentally published this before it was done, but after spending about three ridiculous hours figuring out how to embed this em-effer into my blog, here you go:

  1. Last night was the #PtBiB Drink-along the Second.  We learned a lot of valuable lessons from the first drink-along; chief among them, how to nurse a hangover.  This time, I learned the importance of being ON TIME.  sj, though, learned that one Tweet too many will land you in the Twitter version of the Mines of Moria.
  2. popqueenie
    @ProfMomEsq Yupyup. Kinda wishing I was still in there.
    Sat, Jul 21 2012 10:32:50
  3. This is, perhaps, because I suggested to Heather (@Between_Covers) that we torture sj by Tweeting glowing comments about Peter Jackson while she could not respond.  I’m just guessing.
  4. ProfMomEsq
    @popqueenie I … um … good morning? [backing away slowly with my coffee]
    Sat, Jul 21 2012 10:35:55
  5. ProfMomEsq
    @popqueenie You? Tired? I’m relieved actually – I was starting to suspect you had a third hand and eyes behind your head. 😉 Go nap.
    Sat, Jul 21 2012 10:40:10
  6. Well, yes.  This is a woman who herds the cats that make up this little read-along group of ours, writes blog posts summarizing ten to twelve chapters of reading per week, writes blog posts organizing the drink-alongs (replete with countdown timers!), reads other books and posts reviews about those, mothers FOUR children (one of whom eats something like 9 waffles at a clip) – AND THIS IS JUST THE STUFF ABOUT WHICH I KNOW!!  I’m actually goddamned relieved that she’s tired, because – yes – it makes me feel better about myself.
  7. I don’t know what’s exhausting David.  Maybe its the blogging and book writing at the same time?  Maybe its his crazy wide-deep knowledge of ancient and mythical languages?  Just typing all that made me need a nap.
  8. ProfMomEsq
    <—– dragging guilt-ridden, lazy ass to blog. Damn overachievers, you two. @DavidJonFuller @popqueenie
    Sat, Jul 21 2012 10:59:38
  9. DavidJonFuller
    @ProfMomEsq No, no… @popqueenie makes me look like a piker.
    Sat, Jul 21 2012 11:24:23
  10. Crap, David.  I cannot argue that with you.  I know the pain.
  11. popqueenie
    @DavidJonFuller Heh. I’m still kind of a slacker anyway, compared to some. @ProfMomEsq
    Sat, Jul 21 2012 11:38:26
  12. Compared to who exactly?  Because I need to avoid being ever standing next to this person.
  13. DavidJonFuller
    @popqueenie Um, if you go on in this vein, I will have to kill you. How many pages have you read this week? Words written? @ProfMomEsq
    Sat, Jul 21 2012 11:47:27
  14. David is clearly a glutton for punishment.
  15. popqueenie
    @DavidJonFuller Oi, pages read? Hang on. @ProfMomEsq
    Sat, Jul 21 2012 11:48:29
  16. ProfMomEsq
    @popqueenie I’m not listening. LALALALALALALALALALA [hands over ears] @DavidJonFuller
    Sat, Jul 21 2012 11:50:04
  17. popqueenie
    @DavidJonFuller Just under 1000 (not including the LotR stuff) pages since last Friday. Around 4300 words written on the blog since Monday.
    Sat, Jul 21 2012 11:55:08
  18. popqueenie
    @ProfMomEsq See how considerate I am! I removed you from that conversation so you didn’t have to see. 😉 @DavidJonFuller
    Sat, Jul 21 2012 11:56:06
  19. Shit, I should have said “LALALALALALALA!  I’m not looking.”  Stupid, stupid verbs.
  20. DavidJonFuller
    @popqueenie Usss! Farðu í helvíti, andskotans ófurhöfundurinn þinn.
    Sat, Jul 21 2012 11:59:18
  21. How can I not admire a guy who can curse in Icelandic.  (Wait, is that a language? … running to Google.)
  22. DavidJonFuller
    @popqueenie I would kill you, but then I DID ask… @ProfMomEsq
    Sat, Jul 21 2012 12:00:10
  23. ProfMomEsq
    @popqueenie I must find way to assign #LotR as required reading for legal studies students. [evil laugh] @DavidJonFuller
    Sat, Jul 21 2012 12:00:06
  24. DavidJonFuller
    @ProfMomEsq @popqueenie Have’em discuss the finer points of the treaties between Gondor and Anor, or Rohan and Mordor.
    Sat, Jul 21 2012 12:03:40
Yessssssss.  And I will make them write papers about it, which I will pass off as blog posts, and then you two will NEVER catch me.  Bwahahahahaha.

So, basically, these two are showing me up. Please go read their stuff (which is terrific). Once you’ve done all that, then come on back here, and read the dissertation I’m about to write, then bring me your praise, your quarrels, your tired and restless, in the comments (which I heart SOOOOOOOO much).

Question 1:  Tom Bombadil – Why doesn’t the Ring turn him invisible?  What is his alignment?  General thoughts on his character?

Tom Bombadil by John Howe

Tolkien deliberately left Tom Bombadil a vague and mysterious character.  In doing so – he left open the possibility that Tom is good, evil or some of each.  He also left open the possibility that Tom is not a being but the physical embodiment of something less tangible – something spirit or even god-like.  The best analysis of this that I’ve read so far is in the Encyclopedia of Arda, here.

Noticeably absent from this well-done analysis of Tolkien’s enigma is the crackpot theory that Tom is the alter-ego of the Witch-King of Angmar.  I’m not even going to link you to this crap, because none of it is (in my opinion) supported by actual evidence, it ignores completely what little evidence Tolkien left behind regarding Tom’s origins and nature, and it reads to me like so much conspiracy-theory bullshit.  (Which is, of course, a highly technical term.)

When I encountered Tom Bombadil, there was nothing about him that struck me as evil.  I was, in fact, quite a bit more fascinated with his wife, Goldberry, whose origins are just as quizzical.  At least as to her, Tolkien wrote that represented the seasonal changes in the real river-lands.  (The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, No. 210 (1958).)  Ultimately, I think Tom represents something akin to Mother Nature – not meteorological but botanical.  He represents the will and heart of all forests, which were once nearly all connected.  I think this explanation makes the most sense to me, because it is consistent with Bombadil’s known character traits – his imperviousness to the Ring, his power, his unwillingness to leave the forest, his companionship with Goldberry, and his existence before Morgoth’s arrival in Arda.  (See, The Fellowship of the Ring, “In the House of Tom Bombadil”) Plus, how can you think evil of anyone/thing that has a pony named Fatty Lumpkin?

Image Credit:  http://misterdavid.typepad.com/middle_earth/paradoxes-of-life/

Question 2:  Strider/Aragorn – Srsly, would a note have been enough to make you trust this stranger?

I don’t have a big fancy analysis for this one.  My answer is yes.  Given all the circumstances confronting the hobbits at that moment — the potential exposure of the Ring, Merry blabbing the name “Baggins” about, the chase of the Nazgul, the unwelcome attention of Bill Ferny, and the delivery of the note by Barliman Butterbur (albeit late – very, very late), all make this plausible to me.  Butterbur seemed none to trusting of Strider, and he vouched that the letter was from Gandalf.  In fact, Butterbur was rightly afraid Gandalf would work a terrible spell on him for the delayed delivery:

Poor Mr. Butterbur looked troubled. ‘You’re right, master,’ he said, ‘and I beg your pardon. And I’m mortal afraid of what Gandalf will say…. But I didn’t keep it back a-purpose. I put it by safe. Then I couldn’t find nobody willing to go to the Shire next day, nor the day after…; and then one thing after another drove it out of my mind…. I’ll do what I can to set matters right, and if there’s any help I can give, you’ve only to name it.

Given the option of trusting a Man for whom Gandalf vouches and continuing their harrowing attempts to evade the Black Riders on their own, trusting Strider seemed logical here.

Bert, Bill & Tom by John Howe

Question 3:  Since we just finished reading The Hobbit together – What the Snape is up here?  It took us less than five chapters to get from Bag-End to Bill, Bert and Tom – but this time ’round, it’s taking forfreakingEVER to get to THE VERY SAME TROLLS!  Why is it taking so long to cover the same distance?  Discuss.

This is the worst part about falling behind in my reading — I forget details.  There are only two things that come to mind for me here.  Bilbo was traveling with Gandalf and 13 dwarves.  I can’t remember whether they had ponies, but I do know they weren’t being pursued – at least not by the Black Riders.  So, their route was rather direct, ensured by Gandalf and the dwarves’ familiarity with the lands through which they traveled.  Comparatively, Frodo is traveling with three other hobbits, none of whom have ventured much beyond the borders of the Shire.  They are leaving in a state of emergency (as opposed to the urgency that sent Bilbo on his way), all the while pursued by the Ringwraiths, who cause them to lose their way more than once.

I actually didn’t mind how long it took for the Company to reach the trolls, especially because it resulted in the detour through Farmer Maggot’s land.  I had forgotten all about Farmer Maggot, and reading that part was like reading a new book for me, which was truly enjoyable.  This, however, marks the beginning of the end of any fondness I had for the movies.

Question 4:  How awesome are Sam and Merry?  Like, really, why are they the only ones not acting like total dumbasses right now?

I’m not sure where we are in the story when sj poses this question, but – as a whole – Sam, Merry and Pippin in the books are not the Sam, Merry and Pippin you see in the movies.  On the whole, they are not dumb or asses.  While they have their moments, the movies attribute quite a few bone-headed moves to these hobbits that were not so attributed to them in the book.  In fact, the also get robbed of really smart moments.  Merry more or less solving the riddle of the door to the Mines of Moria springs to mind here …

Question 5:  Did anyone else think Elrond’s Council was just TOO.  LONG?

For the love of Elbereth and Target gift cards, yes.

Image credit:  SingleBuilder via Flickr

Question 6:  Who’s your favourite member of the Fellowship so far?  Why?

I don’t have a favorite.  I like them and dislike them in equal parts – at least until they get past the Falls of Rauros.  After that, I’m a pretty clear dislike on Boromir.  I particularly liked Legolas when the Company was battling Caradhras.  The cold was terrible and the wind worse; snow was falling many feet deep, and the Fellowship could not move forward or back.

‘If Gandalf would go before us with a bright flame, he might melt a path for you,’ said Legolas.  The storm had doubled him little, and he alone of the Company remained light of heart.

‘If Elves could fly over mountains, they might fetch the Sun to save us,’ answered Gandalf. ‘But I must have something to work on.  I cannot burn snow.’

Aragorn and Boromir set about using brute force to clear a path through the snow for safe descent.

Legolas watched them for a while with a smile upon his lips, and then he turned to the others. ‘The strongest must seek a way, say you? But I say: let a ploughman plough, but choose an otter for swimming, and for running light over grass and leaf, or over snow — an Elf.’

With that he sprang forth nimbly, and then Frodo noticed as if for the first time, though he had long known it, that the Elf had no boots, but wore only light shoes, as he always did, and his feet made little imprint in the snow.

‘Farewell!’ he said to Gandalf. ‘I go to find the Sun!’ Then swift as a runner over firm sand he shot away, and quickly overtaking the toiling men, with a wave of his hand he passed them, and sped into the distance, and vanished round the rocky turn.

Coming Up Next:

I have a couple of proposed topics of discussion for the future.

First, in my copious spare time, I stumbled across this essay about – among other things – Tolkien’s view of women as reflected by the way he develops the female characters in his books.  Do you agree or disagree?  I can’t wait to write about this.

Second, the Hubs asked me this morning, “If you could bring only one character from The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings to life, who would it be?  Why?  What if you could ask him/her/it only one question?”  The Hubs just asked me this this morning.  I had no immediate answer.  But, I’m definitely pondering it and will write about it soon.

3 comments on “The Hobbit and the Fellowship of the Ring: So Many Questions, So Little Time #PtBiB

  1. davidjfuller says:

    Holy crap, I’ve been Storified! I was laughing as I read this. Not that anyone cares, but since you DID speculate, I should point out I have even less good excuses for being tired than SJ. I only have TWO kids, not four (egad), and while I do have a day job, for the last few weeks I’ve had a number of freelance gigs with very tight deadlines. Got sick a bit too. But yeah, that’s it — work and kids. And I’m a bit behind on my LOTR reading too! But it has been a blast to be part of this.

    I like your put-down of the Bombadil-as-Witch-King theory — I did read that essay but it’s interesting only as a joke.

    And I love the LOTR Lego! I keep meaning to post about this: “Putting the Lego in Legolas” … 🙂

    • ProfMomEsq says:

      Yay! Storified! I’m happy to immortalize you, but I will not do that again anytime soon. There’s a black hole somewhere now with three hours of my life in it.

      When we start writing things like “only two kids,” you know that shit is real, yo. LOL.

      “Putting the Lego in Legolas” … I got as good a laugh out of that as I did when I found that picture. Feel free to copy and share. 😉

      You know, I hate to completely shoot down a theory, rather than just disagree with it, but I really think the whole Bombadil/Witch-King is beyond any evidence to support it.
      Here’s something else I thought of last night: the Rings were made for Elves, Men, Dwarves and Sauron (who was a lesser Ainur given physical form). So, the Rings specifically affect these beings. The Witch-King of Angmar is/was a Man (and possibly a Numenorian), so he is driven to search for the One Ring. But, Tom Bombadil is not affected by the Ring at all, either in his possession or without. If the syllogism supports any argument, it’s that Bombadil is the physical embodiment of a Valar.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I’m still on The Hobbit! I can’t wait to read everyone’s blogs.

It's boring when I do all the talking around here. Speak now, while you can get a word in edgewise.

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