Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Hobbit Read-Along, Day 4: Chapters 13-16!

All week we are reading J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit together here at the Inkpot.  Be sure to come back tomorrow for the exciting conclusion!

To the casual reader, chapters 13-16 could seem to be when none of the action happens. There are no goblins or trolls. No riddles in the dark. No bears and eagles and wolves. But for the reader who wants to take a step just a bit farther from the hobbit hole, chapters 13-16 are the heart of the novel.

As I take a deeper look at Chapters 13-16, it's where we truly see that this is more than a simple adventure. It's more than a tale told about a hobbit. It's the story of a dwarf who should be king. And of a man who carries noble blood and is descended from the Lord of the Dale. Thorin and Bard rule these chapters, and Bilbo is only transcribing.

Chapter 13: NOT AT HOME
(This chapter brought to you by Thorin)
We start in chapter 13 with the dwarves stuck in the side door entrance of the Lonely Mountain. They are afraid to venture down the tunnel and into the lair of the dragon. And they can't get out the way they came since the door has collapsed. But time goes by and hunger and desire for riches take over and down to the treasure trove they go.
After the fear wears off, the dwarves go kinda nuts and start stuffing their pockets. And...
...Bilbo find the Arkenstone and proves that he truly is a burglar!
(and on a side note, Thorin also gives Bilbo the mithral coat of mail which I adore since it is then passed on to Frodo in LOTR.)
The dwarves get a little nervous and leave, heading for a nearby guard post.
And though Thorin is now technically King Under the Mountain, this realization has not quite hit him. He needs a moment (or two or three) for this to really sink in. We start to see it as he proclaims the glory to which the Lonely Mountain will be restored, but he still doesn't quite believe it's finally happened.

Chapter 14: FIRE AND WATER
(This chapter brought to you by Bard)
In chapter 14, Smaug comes to Esgaroth. This is a horrible battle, and many lives are lost. Like dead. And though it is quickly glanced over, that doesn't change the fact that it still happens. The dragon is angry and fierce, and he is taking out his wrath on the men. All seems lost. And then...
The thrush tells Bard where to aim. And...
Bard kills Smaug!
The town people try to name Bard king, but he is humble and does not accept this. And though he bows to the master of the town, he is truly the man in control. his dignity shines through, and he is the hero in every way.
And because elves are fun and we must get set up for the big battle, the wood elves come to join the men.
Everyone remembers the treasure. Everyone wants the treasure. The treasure is shiny.

(This chapter brought to you by Thorin)
In chapter 15, we return to the dwarves. The raven tells of the men and elves gathering.
War between the dwarves and the men and elves is on the horizon.
So Thorin feels threatened by the men and elves and thus will not bargain, and the men and elves feel threatened by Thorin because he will not bargain. 
Thorin calls for reinforcements.
We now have three armies gathering. Men. Elves. Dwarves.
This part kind of reminds me of when a relative dies and there is some inheritance and everyone who feels they deserve a part starts to descend. Everyone has a valid claim. Everyone's claim in better than the next. And nobody will listen to anybody else. 
Again, this is a chapter about Thorin. He now has accepted that he is King under the Mountain! But he does not quite know how to handle this. Learn much, you will, Thorin.

(This chapter brought to you by Bilbo)
Go, Bilbo!
In chapter 16, Bilbo can't stand to see how the dwarves are acting. They won't listen to reason. Thorin is obsessed with the Arkenstone and does not want to give up any of his fortunes. War is imminent. The future is not so bright at all.
So Bilbo sneaks off in the night and visits the men and elves and delivers to them...The Arkenstone! He hopes they will use it as a bargaining tool. And though he knows he is going to get in huge trouble when he gets back, he returns because he does not want to abandon his friends.
Here we have our brief appearance by Gandalf as the mentor who congratulates his student for doing well. Gandalf is proud of Bilbo.
We are all proud of Bilbo.

It's easy to think of THE HOBBIT as a bit of a light-hearted adventure, but with these chapters, we are seeing war approach. We are seeing part of the population die from the destruction of the horrible dragon who has been tormenting the city of men for so long. We are seeing a fallen kingdom restored to the dwarves it was taken from. Even with the death of the dragon, it's the edge of a dark time for Middle Earth.

The Visuals
Before we end, let's take a step back to think about the visuals of these chapters. We're all excited about the movie, and I believe much of what I'm excited about the most is seeing
(1) the inside of the dragon's lair (because of what I am guessing will be its similarities to the magnificent Moria), and
(2) the abandoned city under the mountain (which I am wondering how much will remind me of Osgiliath).

Discussion Questions:
Who do you feel has a right to the treasure? How would you divide it at this point?

How do you think the tone and pacing of these chapters compare with the previous 12 chapters?

What should Bilbo's punishment be for giving the Arkenstone to the men? How would you react if you were in Thorin's place?

If you were one of the other dwarves who did not quite support Thorin's view, would you speak up and try to reason with him or keep quiet since he was now your king?

What parts, visually, are you most excited to see in the movie?


P. J. Hoover is the author of the upcoming dystopia/mythology YA book, SOLSTICE (Tor Teen, June 2013), the upcoming Egyptian mythology MG book, TUT (Tor Children's, Winter 2014), and the middle-grade SFF series, THE FORGOTTEN WORLDS BOOKS (CBAY, 2008-2010). You can read more about her and her books on P. J.'s website or blog.

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