Tuesday, July 4, 2017

"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - A Short Rest

Bilbo, Gandalf, and the dwarves have survived the ignoramus, hungry trolls and now enter the home of the elves. The title Tolkien gives this chapter hints at one of two major themes we gleam from this section: a short rest. After the first major crisis the fellowship faced on their adventure, it is no accident that the narrative slows and the company find rest among the elves.

That is the first point worth mentioning: rest. As I was reading this story to my eight year-old son, I knew this would be the chapter he disliked the most. Nothing happens. The dwarves eat and sleep while Gandalf and  Thorin talk to Elrond about the rest of their journey. For a boy with the attention span of the typical boy, not much is going on here.

Yet I suspect that to Tolkien fans who love the imagery and the world he created in Middle Earth, this chapter is of great value. In typical Tolkien fashion, we have a descriptive kingdom of elves that is unique. We discover later in the narrative (and later in The LoTR) that this is only one race of elves who live differently from other elves. Thus their language and culture are unique to them and Tolkien goes to great pains to describe them.

Yet what is important for us is to consider the important point of rest. Tolkien understands that no one, not even mythical dwarves, wizards, and hobbits on a grand adventure, can overcome the challenges of life without resting. Elrond's kingdom embodies that idea. In both the Hobbit and in The LoTR, the "good guys" find rest under Elrond's care.

The biblical connections here are obvious. Scripture is clear that we are called to rest and God instituted an entire day to the idea. Christians incorporate both rest and worship on Sunday in order to focus our rest God-ward. More than that, though, is that for the Christian, we find our daily (and not just weekly) rest in Christ who said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).

The second theme raised will be developed later in the narrative, but finds its introduction here: providence. While with the elves, Thorin and Gandalf need Elrond to translate parts of the map they have to the Lonely Mountain. What is striking is that the timing of their arrival is more than happenstance, but providential. Their map has writing that could only be read on the night they ask Elrond to read it. Furthermore, the trolls they encountered plundered unique blades (like the great Goblin cleaver) that only Elrond could give the history of and it just so happens that the dwarves chose these unique weapons. 

Tolkien does not explore this theme in any great detail but already we are given hints that there is more guiding this company than the wise Gandalf. It will not be until the conclusion that the wizard explains this more fully to Bilbo. In the final chapter we find the following exchange between Bilbo and Gandalf:
"Then the prophecies of the old songs have turned out to be true, after a fashion!" said Bilbo. 

"Of course!" said Gandalf. "And why should not they prove true? Surely you don't disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don't really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!" 

"Thank goodness!" said Bilbo laughing, and handed him the tobacco-jar.  (272)

But we are a long ways away from Bilbo understanding all of this yet.


"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - An Unexpected Party
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Roast Mutton
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - A Short Rest
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Over Hill and Under Hill
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Riddles in the Dark
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Queer Lodgings
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Flies and Spiders
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Barrels Out of Bond
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - A Warm Welcome
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - On the Doorstep
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Inside Information
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Not at Home
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Fire and Water
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Gathering of the Clouds
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - A Thief in the Night
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Clouds Burst
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Return Journey
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - The Last Stage


For more:
"The Hobbit" by J. R. R. Tolkien: A Review
A Few Thoughts on The Battle of the Five Armies
"The Fellowship of the Ring" by J. R. R. Tolkien: A Review
"The Two Towers" by J.R.R. Tolkien: A Review
"The Return of the King" by J.R.R. Tolkien: A Review
Longing for Eden: Tolkien's Insight into the Longing of Every Human Soul
An Encouraging Thought: Gandalf on Providence
How to Read J. R. R. Tolkien
Clash of the Gods: Tolkien's Monsters Documentary
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Dramatized Audio
"Beyond The Movie": A National Geographic Documentary on the Lord of the Rings   
Post a Comment