Our Next Meeting

Our next meeting will be held on October 12th, 2013 at the Ladysmith Library from 1-3 PM.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Hobbit Review and Discussion Questions

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien is a magical tale, in all the best senses of that phrase.  It tells the story of a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins, an every-man despite the fact that he isn't a man.  He deals with his unexpected adventure the way most of us would.  He's scared, cranky, and more often than not, wishing that he had stayed at home in his nice comfy hobbit hole.  But the fact that Bilbo didn't really want to be on this trip doesn't take away from the adventure, it adds to it because it is through Bilbo that the reader feels connected to the story.  It may be hard to relate to a wizard or a dwarf, but Bilbo is familiar to us, because in some way, he is us.  Bilbo is thrown into the midst of a party of dwarves looking to reclaim their homeland from the dragon, Smaug.  Along the way, they encounter giant spiders, men who turn into bears or vis versa, elves, goblins, and a magical ring.  Bilbo grows from a frightened hobbit to the leader of these brave souls.  He grows and is never the same again.

The Hobbit, without question, is one of the best books I've ever read.  It is one of the few books that I had to stop reading so that I could read passages aloud to whoever happened to be sitting closest to me.  Let me know what you thought of the book in the comments section below and tackle some of these discussion questions if you couldn't make it to our meeting.

Discussion Questions
  • Do you like Tolkien's writing style?  It seems less like written storytelling and more like someone speaking to you.
  • Tolkien intended The Hobbit to be read by both children and adults.  Do you think that it's suited for one age group more than another?  What do you think appeals to each group?
  • There are lots of songs in the book.  Do you skip over them, just read them, or try to sing them in your head?
  • Are you bothered by the lack of female characters in the book?  The only female even mentioned in the book is Bilbo's mother and the movie has added Galadriel into the cast.  Do you think there should be more female characters?
  • Why do you think that Gandalf picked Bilbo to go on the quest with the dwarves?  He lies and tells them that Bilbo is a burglar, but adds that hobbits can often go unnoticed.  Why include a hobbit at all since they hate adventure?
  • Why do you think Gandalf keeps leaving the party on "other business"?  How is his role here differ from his role in The Lord of the Rings?
  • In Bilbo's game of riddles with Gollum, Bilbo wins by asking about what he has in his pocket.  Is this a fair riddle or does it not matter since Gollum was planning on killing and eating him anyway?
  • Would you have been able to sleep at Beorn's house with the bears snuffling around outside all night?
  • Why do you think that it isn't until he fights the spiders that Bilbo feels like he really belongs on this adventure?
  • Does the final showdown with Smaug seem a little anticlimactic to you?
  • Why won't Thorin Oakenshield share his treasure, even with Bard who killed Smaug?  Is it due to his dwarvish nature?
  • Do you think that Bilbo was right to give the Arkenstone to Bard and the Elvenking as a bargaining tool?  Why do you think Gandalf was so excited about it?
  • What did you think of the end of the book?  Are you surprised in the way that it ended?
  • Who was your favorite character?  Did it change as the book went on?
  • Most of us have been exposed to The Lord of the Rings through at least the movies.  Did you find that your foreknowledge colored how you interpreted the events in this book?

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