Well, I did it! I #ReadTheHobbit! Thanks to everyone who read along with us. I enjoyed your tweets! I could really get into this online book club thing…
Here are some thoughts on the second half of the book. Warning, if you’re still reading The Hobbit, you may want to come back to this post once you’ve finished.
What a ride! As someone who has read a fair amount of contemporary children’s fantasy, reading this book was a treat (and well over-due!) The Hobbit is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential books in children’s literature. Without The Hobbit there would be no Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, and many other acclaimed and beloved children’s series.
The second half of the book has all the trademarks of high fantasy: a dragon, a grand battle, betrayal, death of beloved characters, and of course, the return home. These elements are familiar to contemporary fantasy readers, but it’s important to remember that The Hobbit introduced them first!
I’m so proud of Bilbo, who truly comes into his own as a hero. In the second half of the book he spends a lot of time alone, making decisions based on instinct and what he believes to be fair with little in the way of counsel or advice from others. That’s quite a change from the adventure-shy tea-drinking little guy who, only chapters before, needed prodding by Gandalf and the protection of the dwarves at every turn.
Children often relate to characters who are smaller, younger, or otherwise inexperienced (think of all the books that star mice, or scrawny unlikely children as heroes). As the smallest of the party and the most reticent, Bilbo is the character that children are likely to align themselves with in the story. What a wonderful role model for young readers! Bilbo grows considerably as a character and I was happy to see that in the end, despite having a tarnished reputation among hobbits, he is happy and even takes up writing poetry! Adorable! I want to see a book of poems by Bilbo Baggins!
Personally, I was heartbroken when Bilbo returns to find his belongings for sale. After a year away, dreaming of home, to return and find his safe place bare and looted made my heart ache for poor Bilbo. If anyone deserves a cozy chair and silver spoons, it is our brave hero!
I have to say, my favourite scene is still creeptastic Chapter Five, Riddles in the Dark, in which Bilbo and Gollum try to outsmart each other with wordplay. Something about the dank, dreary cave, the cat and mouse interplay between the characters, and knowing what’s coming in The Lord of the Rings made the scene extra impactful. I can’t wait to see it realized in the movies!
Is it December yet?