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The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1)
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Archived 2011 Group Reads > Lord of the Rings 06: The Fellowship of the Ring - Book Two, Chapters III-IV

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Loretta (lorettalucia) Please discuss this week's reading here.


Loretta (lorettalucia) Just finished up this section. I don't have all of my notes in front of me, so I will return with a lengthier post this evening.


Gwenyth Love (everythinggwenny) Still reading! Just finished chapter III and working through IV... should be done by end of day tomorrow at the latest!


Loretta (lorettalucia) Yay, excellent Gwenyth.

I'll be sure to have my actual post up later this evening. :)


Loretta (lorettalucia) My thoughts on this week's reading:

- We're told in this section that it's around the end of December when they leave Rivendell, so I think they've been on the road for 6 months or so at this point.

- Merry and Pippin insist on joining Frodo for the rest of the journey. Outwardly, their protests seem based on the "fun" of the upcoming journey--they are curious and want to see where the road will bring them. But do you all think that that is the real reason for their insisting on continuing the journey? Or is it solely out of loyalty to Frodo and Sam? In other words, are they incredibly adventurous for hobbits, and do they remain unaware of the danger that awaits? or are they uncommonly brave, and are they just pretending it's going to be an adventure to be allowed to come along? This would mean that they know fully what they're getting themselves into.

- I, too, was sad to see Bill the pony leave.

- Gandalf notes that the way to get into Moria is actually rather simple. Quite simple. Too simple for a learned lore-master in these suspicious days. Those were happier times. I thought this was another reminder of how wary everyone has grown.

- For those who joined me for the pre-read of The Hobbit, or who has read it in the past--don't the goblins of that book seem infinitely less threatening than the orcs of LOTR? They're supposed to be the same race, as far as I know. I suppose Tolkien had to change how Orcs felt to reflect the darker tone of this trilogy.


Loretta (lorettalucia) - Oh also - I was sad to see that Balin had died. I'm very, very curious to find out how that happened.


Melissa Loretta wrote: For those who joined me for the pre-read of The Hobbit, or who has read it in the past--don't the goblins of that book seem infinitely less threatening than the orcs of LOTR? They're supposed to be the same race, as far as I know. I suppose Tolkien had to change how Orcs felt to reflect the darker tone of this trilogy.

I will quiz my husband on that. I know I've asked him before but I want to refresh my memory so that I can give a coherent response.


Melissa Loretta wrote: In other words, are they incredibly adventurous for hobbits, and do they remain unaware of the danger that awaits? or are they uncommonly brave, and are they just pretending it's going to be an adventure to be allowed to come along? This would mean that they know fully what they're getting themselves into.

I think there is a middle ground. Remember the chapter "A Conspiracy Unmasked?" In it we read Merry saying "You can trust us to stick through thick and thing-to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours-closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo. Anyway: there it is. We know most of what Gandalf has told you. We know a good deal about the Ring. We are horribly afraid-but we are coming with you; or following you like hounds."

I think all the rather immature and silly things that they do along the way is simply evidence of the fact that they really are quite immature. Many times throughout the narrative, they are described as being terrified and even say they are scared silly and think that perhaps they made a mistake. But on the other hand they nearly always try to do what is right which is a sign of true bravery.

A Little Spoiler Below

By the end of the novel, we know they survive and are considered heroes but we are also given a sense that they are still rather jolly and light-hearted people. I think some of the scrapes they get themselves into are part of their nature.


Melissa Loretta wrote: "Gandalf notes that the way to get into Moria is actually rather simple. Quite simple. Too simple for a learned lore-master in these suspicious days. Those were happier times. I thought this was another reminder of how wary everyone has grown."

I think it is a definite commentary on the world we live in today. I grew up in Western Kansas a very depopulated and safe environment when I was a child (I now live in a suburb of Minneapolis, MN). We never, ever locked our doors. Everywhere people went, they left their car doors unlocked. Even when we went shopping in the nearby larger towns of 2-3 thousand people we left the car doors unlocked and often the keys in the ignition.

I went to a church that was literally in the middle of the country. There was no town nearer than five miles. If there had been a group of ambitious thieves in the area they could have drove off every single car during church. For they were, unlocked with keys in the ignition.

And many people my age and older can remember growing up with a great deal more freedom of movement than good protective parents would dream of giving their children today. They could roam all day, wherever they wished to go (in some cases even in the city) without fear. Their parents didn't worry. I know I would be worried sick if my nine-year-old walked away from my house and left the boundary of our yard and we live in a very quiet suburb.

I guess we can compare our time of wars and rumors of wars to the time in which the Fellowship lived.


Melissa Loretta wrote: "For those who joined me for the pre-read of The Hobbit, or who has read it in the past--don't the goblins of that book seem infinitely less threatening than the orcs of LOTR? They're supposed to be the same race, as far as I know. I suppose Tolkien had to change how Orcs felt to reflect the darker tone of this trilogy."

So I quizzed my husband. First, just in case you don't know this. Orcs are actually elves that were twisted by Morgoth (Sauron's mentor).

Second, how, when, and the intention of the books actually has lot to do with how the orcs were portrayed. Tolkien had actually been working on Middle Earth for years. He was a linguist who wanted to create languages that hung or fit in the framework of a 'real' history and world. (The Ring of Words - a book about Tolkien's time at the OED shows some interesting adaptations he made of Old English words that had died into words for his books). His working story was the Silmarillion. When his children were young and he was working on Middle Earth, he told them the story of The Hobbit, which was later published as a children's book in 1937.

The Hobbit was such a success that Tolkien's publisher's asked for more and that is how the adult books that we know as The Lord of the Rings trilogy was published 1954 (and why nearly twenty years elapsed between the two - Tolkien wasn't prepared or planning on writing those books).

Because the books were for adults, the threat of the orcs is more openly treated on.


message 11: by Loretta (last edited Feb 28, 2011 07:20AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Loretta (lorettalucia) Melissa wrote: I think all the rather immature and silly things that they do along the way is simply evidence of the fact that they really are quite immature. Many times throughout the narrative, they are described as being terrified and even say they are scared silly and think that perhaps they made a mistake. But on the other hand they nearly always try to do what is right which is a sign of true bravery.

You are correct, sometimes I forget how young they're supposed to be. I know Frodo is in his 50s (though well-preserved due to the ring). Hobbits age differently than we do, so that means, to my understanding, that he's basically a relatively young adult. In human years, I'd put him between 30 and 35.

Merry and Pippin (and even Sam) on the other hand are perhaps the hobbit equivalent of being 18-22, so very yougn and still with a lot of growing up to do.

But you are correct that they are nonetheless quite brave... perhaps even slightly because they're not sure exactly how much danger they're in.


Loretta (lorettalucia) Melissa wrote: And many people my age and older can remember growing up with a great deal more freedom of movement than good protective parents would dream of giving their children today. They could roam all day, wherever they wished to go (in some cases even in the city) without fear.

I think I had the opposite experience. I grew up in New York City, so when I was a little girl, I always had to have someone with me (grandparents or elder brothers), and the doors were always firmly locked.

I wonder if another possible reference that Tolkien is making there is the ability/inability to trust the people around you, thievery aside. Being American, I of course view the Cold War through that lens, but certainly Brits were also impacted by the (frequently, but not always, irrational) fear of communists, spies, etc. But even if it wasn't a direct reference to that, I can see your point about people growing more suspicious as the 20th century progressed.


Loretta (lorettalucia) Melissa wrote: Because the books were for adults, the threat of the orcs is more openly treated on.

Yes, I knew the history of how the books were written (The Hobbit much more lighthearted because it is intended for children, the LOTR intended for adults, and growing darker than even Tolkien expected it to be as the story carried him along).

I guess my question was whether there was a reason for the (perhaps perceived only by me)inconsistencies beyond the two tales being intended for different audiences. Although Bilbo and his dwarf companions were in danger at several points due to the goblins (I don't believe they were ever called orcs in The Hobbit), they seemed easier to defeat, somehow. Whereas in LOTR, it is clear that the orcs are a deadly set of foes, worthy of immense amounts of fear.

So I was wondering if there was an "in universe" reason for the differences that I noticed.


Melissa Loretta wrote: "I think I had the opposite experience. I grew up in New York City, so when I was a little girl, I always had to have someone with me (grandparents or elder brothers), and the doors were always firmly locked. "

Yes - I think it would be interesting to see how the protective influence has migrated...because I would hazard a guess that there is a great deal more door locking and key carrying done where I grew up than there was in the past just as I know that parts of the Twin Cities that are now considered exceptionally dangerous weren't nearly as dangerous when my elderly friend was raising her children in those areas...I think the growth of suspicion is hard to quantify because different areas and eras of the world have such different reasons for trust or suspicion.


Melissa Loretta wrote: "I was wondering if there was an "in universe" reason for the differences that I noticed. "

I don't think so. My husband mostly referenced the external history of how the books are written. From what my husband spoke of the world's internal history (as provided in the Silmarillion and The Lost Tales) there should be no difference. So I really don't know. Sorry.


Loretta (lorettalucia) Not your fault. :)

If I'm looking for consistency, I can mostly explain it to myself as the orcs' increased power being a result of Sauron's increased power. It makes sense that his "army" would be more dangerous as he begins to rise.


Melissa Loretta wrote: "Not your fault. :)

If I'm looking for consistency, I can mostly explain it to myself as the orcs' increased power being a result of Sauron's increased power. It makes sense that his "army" would..."



Good idea. It is plausible and holds the issues at bay, which will certainly add to reading satisfaction.

I have a friend who won't read The Hobbit for herself or to her children - she doesn't like it but she loves LOTR.

Honestly, I think I would have found Tolkein more palatable the first time I read him if I had started with LOTR rather than The Hobbit.


message 18: by Loretta (last edited Feb 28, 2011 07:49AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Loretta (lorettalucia) I had fond memories of The Hobbit from reading it when I was 10. Rereading it for the first time in January, I found it less enjoyable, though I can appreciate it for what it is--a great book for kids. I absolutely adored it back then.


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