Chapter 6: Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire

I’m participating in a Hobbit read along. Links to the earlier chapters/bloggers can be found here.

The cover of my Hobbit copy. It’s TERRIBLE.

This chapter jumped around a bit so I’m just going to do like David did and give some thoughts I had while reading.

  • We begin to see Bilbo maturing into a “Hero”! He’s just escaped from the goblins AND his encounter with Gollum. Yet, he worries that the dwarves might still be under the mountain and he is thisclose to turning around and going right back into all that mess he just escaped from so he can rescue them! What’s worse, as soon as he decides this, he stumbles upon their camp where the dwarves are arguing that they don’t need to go back and rescue him! Ouch. To be fair though, Thorin and Co. still weren’t sure Bilbo was worth the trouble and fortunately Bilbo was able to use his cleverness and a lucky find to escape on his own and then win the dwarves’ respect.
  • We see the first instance here of the Ring’s influence. Bilbo decides not to mention the Ring when describing his escape, showing that already, Bilbo is getting possessive of the Ring. I wonder how much of LotR Tolkien had thought of at this point? Had he already decided how important this Ring was going to be? Fitting with the overall style of The Hobbit, the Ring is made to seem more of a trinket than anything else. A trinket with invisibility powers but a trinket nonetheless.
  • It’s interesting to me how different Gandalf is in The Hobbit than he is in LotR. He seems a bit more sorcerous (is that a word? I don’t know), yet still slightly human. Bilbo asks about their escape from the mountains and Tolkien writes that Gandalf was happy to do so because he loved to talk about how clever he is. A little arrogant, no? But much more Earth-y than he is in LotR, where he’s more secretive and seems much more the Istari (is there a singular form?) that he is.
  • What’s with the random wolf/ Warg attack? It shows how dangerous their journey is, I guess, while also showing dangers in the wider world not related to them and their journey. And it provides an exciting story for the chapter title. But it’s so…random. It really just seems an excuse to introduce the eagles (and redeem the dwarves, especially Thorin and Dori). And it always makes me think of the almost exact same situation the Fellowship runs into when coming down off Caradhras. Except no tree climbing there; apparently Gandalf learned his lesson.
  • The Eagles! They always show up in the nick of time. A fine introduction for a good race. They keep to themselves, but they help out when needed. And we get to see some of their relationship with Gandalf too.

What did y’all think?

Chapter 7: Queer Lodgings coming next Tuesday from Rob at The Old Book Junkie!

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26 thoughts on “Chapter 6: Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire

  1. jubilare says:

    The Hobbit is a very random book, in a lot of ways, and this chapter does exemplify that. Personally, I don’t think Tolkien had planned much, or maybe any of LotR when he first invented this tale, but it is fun seeing how, despite the very different tones, elements of The Hobbit feed into the following epic.
    I like your observations on Gandalf.

    Also, that’s the cover of the first copy of The Hobbit I ever read, and yes! It is terrible! And yet, it makes me smile more than wince. I guess it’s the association. 😛

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    • Mary says:

      That cover (and a few glimpses of the 70’s cartoon) is actually what turned me off reading The Hobbit and LotR for a loooong time. It wasn’t until I saw the beautiful trailers for Jackson’s movie that I thought maybe I should give this thing a chance.

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      • jubilare says:

        I’m glad for that! Are you reading it for the first time?

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      • Mary says:

        Oh no! After reading LotR back in high school when those movies came out, I got sucked into Tolkien fandom hard. So that included reading The Hobbit, as well as The Silmarillion and some of the Lost Tales books. Those cooled me down a bit since I realized I loved the stories more than reading about the technical background of the works. This read through is only the 3rd or 4th time though- LotR is my first and favorite love and it tends to be what I re-read when I’m in a Tolkien mood.

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      • jubilare says:

        Excellent. 🙂 I thought you sounded more of a “pro” than a first-reader could be. I read The Hobbit pretty early, but I failed in my first few attempts at LotR. Once I made it through, though, it became one of my favorite books.

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      • David says:

        Aww, why so? I think it’s a pretty fine cover, with much better character designs than the same artist did for LotR (although his Fellowship cover is okay). Bilbo here is very fat, but hobbits are described as such, and Bilbo emphatically does not have an active lifestyle. I think the picture here looks very much like the last person you’d expect to be a hero. (Kind of looks like Jackie Gleason, actually!)

        And that Gollum! One of the best designs I’ve seen for him. P.J.’s version is perhaps definitive, but with his big baby eyes he’s almost too easy to feel sorry for. This Gollum from the cover art is much uglier, and therefore being able to pity him seems like a greater mark of moral strength.

        Of course I’m a little nostalgic, since that’s the only copy of The Hobbit I’ve ever had or read. The artist definitely made some questionable decisions later on, though. His Legolas is horrendous.

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      • Mary says:

        I’ve never seen his LotR covers! I’m going to have to do some image searching…

        I think it’s more that I just don’t like covers with real people- they tend to look cheesy and weird (slightly related- have you ever been to Good Show Sir? It’s a pretty funny time waster). Also, I like to imagine what the characters look like on my own. You’re right though, that Gollum is a nasty piece of work.

        To be fair, I think my aversion to this cover is more my lingering aversion to the story, thanks mainly to the cartoon. I just happened to walk in on my sister watching it one day when I was in middle school, knowing nothing about the story, and coming in just at the moment Bilbo meets Gollum. It was…bizarre, to say the least.

        I’m hoping to find a nicer (maybe hardback) copy in a bookstore now that the movie is coming out- perhaps something that will more accurately reflect the beauty of the story.

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      • David says:

        Haha, well okay. True, my preferences in cover art also tend less towards big elaborate pictures or real-looking people, and more towards an artfully arranged scene, or even no picture at all and just a well-chosen color, a central symbol maybe, and some good font work on the title and author. For instance, I love this cover of The Lantern Bearers and this one of Tigana (except for the press quotes on the latter). In the former case, that depiction is the definitive image of the character Aquila in my mind — while I desperately want a film adaptation of the book, I’d have a hard time accepting an actor who doesn’t look exactly like that picture in the role!

        Yes, I’ve been to that site; it’s pretty hilarious, and most of the covers are horrendous!

        As a side note, based on the conversation below, here’s a huge collection of Tolkien’s own art.

        Hmm; I guess the “randomness” of the Warg attack never bothered me, because it’s totally understandable for the setting. Perhaps just because it doesn’t directly have anything to do with the central quest doesn’t necessarily mean it’s random. As you say, it gives the dwarves a chance to give a better showing than they did with the goblins, and it also let’s Gandalf show some more wizardry, as well as letting him get genuinely fearful about their chances of survival. And going with your observations about Gandalf being a bit arrogant in a wizardy way, this also seems to be a weaker Gandalf than we see in LotR. I’d never thought of watching Gandalf’s personal growth throughout the books, but perhaps that’d be an interesting thing to do.

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      • Mary says:

        Ooh, thanks for that link to the Tolkien art!

        That’s an interesting point to make about the Warg attack. Sometimes character building/exposition is important in and of itself.

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  2. emilykazakh says:

    Reblogged this on WanderLust and commented:
    The Wargs are a bit random, but I kind of like them.

    Like

  3. I don’t know if sorcerous is a word–it is now, perhaps. I get it. I also think his is a principled good friend here. In my chapter I talked about the accidents in the book–happy or unhappy. But look at this: Bilbo walks straight into the dwarfs just as he is about to turn around; the Warg is random; and the super duper eagles.

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    • Mary says:

      It’s true- Gandalf alone is wanting to go back and rescue Bilbo.

      And it is pretty amazing how all these “accidents” keep happening, for good or ill. Something more powerful is clearly at work.

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  4. jubilare says:

    On the topic of covers, my favorite is the one with Tolkien’s own illustration on it. There are some other good ones as well, though.

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    • Mary says:

      Tolkien as an illustrator was phenomenal! I ran across a book at the library once that was a collection of his artwork and sketches and they were all beautiful. Ideally, I would like to find a copy of The Hobbit that has some of his illustrations in it.

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      • jubilare says:

        The one I have with his illustration on the cover also, I think, has his illustrations in it. I will have to double-check, though, as it’s a recent addition to my personal library. I wonder if there is a newer edition with those illustrations, though. I adore the graceful simplicity of his drawings!

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      • Krysta says:

        I thought the 75th anniversary edition that came out this year has Tolkien’s cover as well as his drawings inside. Is that the one you mean?

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  5. Rob says:

    Nice observation on the RIng’s first influence on Bilbo. Sure seemed innocent enough, eh? As for the Eagles, see Exodus 19:4.

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  6. David says:

    Reblogged this on The Warden's Walk and commented:
    Points of interest.

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  7. jubilare says:

    Nay, looking at my copy, it was published in 1966. I would not be surprised, though, if there is a newer edition complete with illustrations, though.

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  8. Steve Morrison says:

    Tolkien had no plans for a sequel when he wrote The Hobbit. This is from a letter to his publisher dated 17 February 1938:

    They say it is the first step that costs the effort. I do not find it so. I am sure I could write unlimited ‘first chapters’. I have indeed written many. The Hobbit sequel is still where it was, and I have only the vaguest notions of how to proceed. Not ever intending any sequel, I fear I squandered all my favourite ‘motifs’ and characters on the original ‘Hobbit’.

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  9. […] From Grimmella, I’m thankful for her thoughtful participation in The Hobbit Read-Along. […]

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