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Thoughts on Book 1, Chapter 7, "In the House of Tom Bombadil" [May. 3rd, 2008|09:08 am]
LOTR Community Reading Group

Chapter 7, “In The House of Tom Bombadil” seems to have a sort of dreamy, other-world feel to it; even though their journey’s barely begun, it has the feeling of being the sort of refuge that Rivendell and Lothlorien are. It’s a sort of out of time place--in fact, for the first time, I noticed something.

Like Galadriel in Lothlorien, Tom’s the Master of his Realm, and he is faced with the Ring, and he passes the test. Unlike Galadriel, Tom does not even seem to be remotely tempted.

Frodo is rather strangely garrulous there, while Merry, Pippin and Sam all seem uncharacteristically silent.

And what’s with Frodo’s reaction to Goldberry? He seems to have been rather taken with her, doesn’t he?
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Chapter 6: The Old Forest [Apr. 12th, 2008|09:07 pm]
LOTR Community Reading Group

Here's some of the discussion of "The Old Forest", cross-posted from the Yahoo!group:

Beginning with Inkling--Read more...Collapse )
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More discussion of Chapter 5 [Mar. 19th, 2008|11:52 am]
LOTR Community Reading Group

Here's a cross-post of more discussion of Chapter 5, "A Conspiracy Unmasked" Read more...Collapse )
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Thoughts on Chapter 5, "A Conspiracy Unmasked" [Mar. 18th, 2008|03:51 pm]
LOTR Community Reading Group

(Oringinally posted at the Yahoo!group by Chris--obsidianj, crossposted with permission)

Our hobbit friends arrive at Crickhollow and again Merry and Pippin take the lead. Frodo is still mired in his worries about how to tell Merry, Pippin and Fatty that all their work was basically for nothing since he will leave the next day. Sam keeps in the background. I think he is still coming to terms with what it will mean to go with Frodo, and he fears Frodo's reaction to the revelation that he spied on Frodo.

I love the down to earth behavior and pragmatism of Merry and Pippin. They made up their mind and no reasoning of Frodo or talk about how dangerous it might be can deter them. I think it shows in the bathroom scene where Pippin behaves as if he has no care in the world.

I can't quite figure out what Fatty is doing there and why he got introduced. The story would pretty much unfold as is even if he wouldn't be there. Fatty is mentioned in this chapter and then no more until the end of the books. Or do I misremember things?

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Chapter 4: A Shortcut to Mushrooms [Mar. 12th, 2008|03:54 pm]
LOTR Community Reading Group

(originally posted at the Yahoo!group by Chris, AKA obsidianj, cross-posted with permission)

In chapter 4 the hobbits are again on the road. The holiday feeling is slightly marred. To me it seems as if the Black Riders are herding them on. Every time it gets too comfortable (and they start to forget what brought them on the road) or the road becomes inconvenient, a Black Rider shows up and edges them on. Without Sam spotting the rider up on the ridge, I think they would have turned back from their 'shortcut'. Pippin seems to me the leader on this part of the journey. He follows Frodo's wishes, but he definitely knows exactly what to do and where to go. Frodo and Sam seem more insecure and dithering about how to go on. Maybe Pippin can be more pragmatic and stay in the here and now, since he doesn't know too much about the ring and what it means, whereas Frodo is too much in thought where this all will lead and Sam hasn't been in these parts of the Shire.

The eeriest part is at the end of the chapter when farmer Maggot brings them to the ferry and they mistake Merry for a Black Rider. It seems to me that Tolkien wants to show here how strong the imagination influences what we hear and see. Okay, fog makes everything seem strange, but how they could mistake short Merry and his pony for a Black Rider I can only explain with their imagination running away with them. And even Merry's question: "I want Mr. Baggins. Have you seen him?" sounds more like a Black Rider than Merry. What I find curious about this question is: It seems Merry assumes everyone knows Mr. Baggins. Here he comes on a group of strangers and asks them specifically whether they have seen Mr. Baggins. He doesn't describe his friend or asks whether they have seen a group of hobbits on foot going toward Crickhollow or some such. No he asks them after Mr. Baggins. Or did Merry recognize his friends in the murk?

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More Chapter 3 thoughts [Mar. 6th, 2008|04:38 pm]
LOTR Community Reading Group

From Kathy/Inkling, cross-posted from the yahoo!group:

Hope you all are up for more comments on Chapter 3…I just finished
it! :)

I like this chapter a lot. It has an innocence to it (the early
parts, at least) that's very endearing. Frodo knows he must leave the
Shire, but doesn't want to. He's going through a kind of "pre-
nostalgia" that Gandalf is willing to indulge with a smile. And
knowing what Frodo comes home to, it's hard to begrudge him his last
summer in the Shire. And yet...what if he'd screwed himself up to go
sooner? Or, what if Gandalf hadn't been tricked and captured by
Saruman, or Butterbur hadn't been such a butter-brain? In all
likelihood, the hobbits would have made it to Rivendell without
incident (and maybe even without Strider), and Frodo wouldn't have
been wounded by a Morgul blade. True, he would have been in bad shape
by the end of the Quest anyway, but bad enough to have to leave
Middle-earth? Maybe not.

The first day of the walking trip always makes me feel wistful,
because it's the *only* part of their journey that is unmarred by
evil (even their stays in Rivendell and Lorien are marred by the
memory of evil, or by grief). There are a few ominous hints—Gandalf's
absence, the stranger Frodo hears talking to the Gaffer—but
nonetheless the hobbits spend a night and day in happy ignorance,
with nothing more to contend with than sleepiness and tree roots. No
watch is kept that first night, and only a fox sees them (I love the
fox!). There's lots of cousinly banter, and Sam's shapeless felt hat
(wonder what ever happened to that hat??).

There's also a comment in this chapter I've always wondered about…is
Pippin being condescending to Sam when he tells him to have bath and
breakfast ready? I know he's supposed to be sleepy and/or joking, but
still...Sam doesn't seem to know how to take it either. Is class
privilege rearing its head here? What do you guys think?

I have more to say about this chapter but think that's enough for one

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Thoughts on Chapter 3 [Feb. 29th, 2008|02:33 pm]
LOTR Community Reading Group

(Cross-posted from the yahoo!group, with the permission of obsidianj, the OP.)

After the dense exposition of chapter 2, chapter 3 was lighter reading for me. The hobbits finally are on the first steps of the long journey. I was wondering about Gandalf. In the beginning of the chapter he says they should go soon, but then 3 weeks later Frodo is still not moving and it seems Gandalf is not pressing him anymore. Gandalf stays with Frodo for 2 month and after Frodo finally devised some kind of scheme of how to get out of the Shire quietly, Gandalf suddenly leaves and leaves Frodo and his friends alone.

When reading it this time, I wondered what Frodo told Merry and Pippin about why he would sell Bag End and move to Crickhollow. Sam is in on the real plan, so he knows that Crickhollow is a ruse. Merry and Pippin supposedly know nothing,but they are very close friends to Frodo, so the reasons the rumor mill comes up with are to my mind not good enough. They know Frodo too well to fall for the 'running out of money'. And why would Frodo want to settle in Crickhollow permanently when he has beautiful Bag End, just because of the SBs makes also no sense to me.

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(no subject) [Feb. 14th, 2008|01:21 pm]
LOTR Community Reading Group

Well, it looks like Chapter 2 is more than due for its turn. And there’s no need to stop discussing Chapter 1. We can just keep comments on it to that thread.

So I think I’ll get us started. “The Shadow of the Past” is all about foreshadowing for the rest of the book, so I’m going to post some parts that I think bear some consideration--especially for first time readers who might like to be pointed to the clues.

-We are told, specifically and in no uncertain terms that Merry and Pippin are Frodo’s closest friends.

-Frodo’s appearance remains youthful, and he seems to have some of Bilbo’s old wanderlust. He began to feel restless.

- “Merry and his other friends watched him anxiously”

-While Merry and Pippin suspect Frodo of meeting Elves, that’s neither confirmed nor denied, but he *definitely* meets with Dwarves. Rumors of Mordor make their way as far as the Shire.

-Sam’s cousin Hal seeing a “walking tree”

- “Sam sat silent and said no more. He had a good deal to think about…[but] Sam had more on his mind than gardening.”

-We are all pretty familiar with Gandalf’s account of the Ring; that whole narrative of his is filled with foreshadowing, though I’d say his most cryptic and yet most important remarks were about Bilbo being “meant” to find the Ring, and Frodo to have it; and his hint that Gollum might have some part to play before the end.

And then of course, there’s catching Sam--who clearly *was* eavesdropping, in spite of his disingenuous attempt to deny it.

(Cross-posted to yahoo!group)
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So, who's ready for Chapter One now? [Feb. 8th, 2008|12:10 pm]
LOTR Community Reading Group

I've really been enjoying the discussion of the Prologue, but maybe it's time to start on the Story now?

My first time reading this, I was struck by the fact that both The Hobbit and LotR begin with a party. And of course, it's clearly quite deliberate, when you look at the titles: in TH, it's "An Unexpected Party" and in LotR, it's "A Long-Expected Party".

But the parties are quite different from Bilbo's POV: in TH, he's this kind of hapless, helpless little person overrun by guests he didn't really invite, and he's completely flustered. In LotR, he manages this party the way he wants it--he orchestrates the whole thing to lead up to his big speech and his "joke". It's a measure of his confidence that he knows just what will happen when he leaves. He's made all his preparations. Frodo is "in on" the joke.

Of course, we are introduced to Frodo, and we are given a bit of his background by the denizens of The Ivy Bush.

The gossip was very hobbity. We also, for the first time are introduced to Sam and Merry, the Gaffer and the S.-B.'s.

For anyone reading this the first time, did anything surprise you about it?

And for anyone: what struck you most about the chapter, even if you've read it before.
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Discussion about the Prologue [Feb. 5th, 2008|04:43 pm]
LOTR Community Reading Group

A few of the folks over at the Yahoo! group have started discussing the Prologue. I got their permission to cross-post to LiveJournal.

This post was from Kathy/Inkling Read more...Collapse )

And this post in response from Chris.Read more...Collapse )
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