Chapter II: Roast Mutton

" 'Mutton yesterday, mutton today, and blimey, if it don't look like mutton again tomorrer.' "

First of all, when I read this book for the second time I had no idea what mutton was, so I thought it was just a funny way of saying nothing. I don't recall what I thought the first time I read it. Anyways, I was surprised (and a little disappointed) to learn that the trolls were actually eating something.

So in my quest for movers this is an important chapter. It is when Bilbo's adventure turns into something more than just a little jaunt into new country, causing him to begin "to feel that adventures were not so bad after all." Though as soon as things prove uncomfortable, even before the danger sets in, he starts to wish he " 'was at home in my nice hole by the fire, with the kettle just beginning to sing!' "

But then Bilbo gets sent on his first assignment of burglary. Well technically he is just supposed to scout, and the burglary he decides to attempt on his own. This is important, and actually surprising. Considering how hesitant Bilbo was to begin the adventure, even with his Took blood creeping out at the edges, his desire to jump right into danger that he could easily avoid is pretty surprising. I probably would not have written that myself, it does not quite seem like the logical step. His failing however does not surprise, which is exactly what occurs. And thus he puts everyone in his party in danger, well excepting one who comes back to save the day in the nick of time. The protagonist fails in his first task, good good.

"And please don't cook me, kind sirs! I am a good cook myself, and cook better than I cook, if you see what I mean."

Tolkien uses Gandalf as a safety blanket for the party for a while, and this is put to good use. He is the easy fix to any problem, the cure all to any conflict. But this is a good setup for what is to come. Because once he is removed from the picture, the hero void needs to be filled. Hmm, who might step into that chasm...

The trickery to resolve the conflict feels right out of a classic fairy tale or myth. I want to bring up Odin and Odysseus etc., but I think it would either take research or making stuff up to sound smart. Perhaps I should not speak.

Additional notes:

Tolkien actually puts little things in to differentiate the Dwarves, completely ignorable if so wished by the reader. I remember now taking slight note of these little snippets. Thorin is the most distinct and gets the most face time of course. Bombur is fat, and thus is the second most recognizable. Balin is the look out, which makes him stand out; things will come up later to expand on his role even before Fellowship (those three are the most obvious, after this the distinctions become a bit harder to remember). Oin and Gloin are apparently good fire starters and seem to be especially quarrelsome; I will have to watch to see if that continues. Kili and Fili are young and a bit more rash than the rest. Dwalin so far has shown a bit of generosity, that may be reading into it too much. Dori and Nori like food. I shall have to keep my eye open for more distinctions.

May to June.

"They have seldom even heard of the king round here." This little throwaway comment is a pretty common idea to depict lawless vagrants, but as Tolkien expanded his world, it doesn't exactly make sense. Whoops.

The descriptions of the area between The Hill and the Rivendell are both descriptive enough and vague enough that you can pretty much fit them in with what Tolkien did later with the land. He even hints at the ruins of wars between the kings of Arnor and the Witch King, though I doubt he has that whole thing in mind. Here he calls this region the Lone-lands, which fits with his more simplified naming in this book.

Favorite quotation: Okay this is not especially great, but it is a good example of Gandalf dialogue which is always fun.

" 'Where did you go to, if I may ask?' said Thorin to Gandalf as they rode along.

'To look ahead,' said he.

'And what brought you back in the nick of time?'

'Looking behind,' said he."

1 comment:

Stuart said...

"Perhaps I should not speak." There you go, always defending yourself before attacked.

Be aggressive!