Art and Literature News

Hobbit Book Club Week 3: Hopes and Heroes

Welcome to a recap of week three of our Hobbit Book club. For the entire month of June, we and a handful of readers will read Tolkien’s The Hobbit. At the beginning of each week, I will write a summary of my own reading thoughts, followed by a recap of the discussions on our Facebook Group.

Hopes and Heroes
Throughout the novel, everyone involved is driven by the hopes of fame and fortune. Yet, again and again, as they stumble from one misadventure to the next, it appears as if Thorin and company is not too prepared about what is to come. Just as the dwarves reach the Lonely Mountain, they begin to realize their lack of planning. Thorin and company realize that this adventure is not just fun and games with a few minor inconveniences. A quote that stuck with me even after reading The Hobbit for the first time is when the narrator explains that “dwarves are not heroes” (Inside Information). Instead, according to the narrator, dwarves are mainly driven by their desire for treasures and money. In a way, this explains Thorin’s lack of preparation and planning. Already, Thorin was somewhat blinded by the price at the end of the journey that he overlooked what it might take to get the price.

It is Bilbo, at this stage of the journey, that starts to take responsibility for the others:

“Now strange to say Mr. Baggins had more [spirit left] than the others. He would often borrow Thorin’s map and gaze at it, pondering over the runes and the message of the moon-letters Elrond had read. It was he that made the dwarves begin the dangerous search on the western slopes for the secret door” (On the Doorstep).

Through a series of misadventures and narrow escapes, Bilbo transitioned from a childish, comfort loving Baggins to a daring Took that starts to lead his friends and the plot instead of only reacting to things. What is most striking about Bilbo’s transformation to the hero is that he is not fearless as he makes his way through the secret door into the Lonely Mountain:

“He was trembling with fear, but his little face was set and grim. Already he was a very different hobbit from the one that had run out without a pocket-handkerchief from Bag-End long ago. He had not had a pocket-handkerchief for ages. He loosened his dagger in its sheath, tightened his belt, and went on” (Inside Information).

This is easily one of my favorite quotes from the entire book. In this moment, Bilbo is a greater hero and much braver than the mighty Thorin Oakenshield. This passage teaches children that heroes are not fearless. Instead, great strength and heroism arises when you proceed despite your fear:

“The tremendous things that happened afterwards were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait” (Inside information).

Even though The Hobbit was intended to be a children’s book, its message of keep going despite fear, of using intelligence rather than sheer muscle power, are messages that give people of all ages hope.

Community discussions
This week, our book club community over on Facebook has been very busy and sparked some great conversations. Now, in order to read those discussions, you better join the group!

How is your reading progress coming along? Looking back at Bilbo’s development, what quote or passage strike you as most memorable? Leave a comment down below!

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