Tolkien Tuesday #11

15 March 2022

I almost ran out of time to get this post written and posted on the “proper” day today, but here it is, our weekly chat on all things Tolkien…

The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts

For this week’s reading we concluded Chapter 5, A Conspiracy Unmasked.

Last week the hobbits arrived at the cottage in Crickhollow. This week, the conspiracy we thought was about to be unmasked turned out not to be the only one in operation. Here, again, Frodo is shown he has more support in this venture than he believed, even though he is reluctant to accept it for fear of bringing his friends to any harm.

We learn a lot about the personality of the hobbits too. Frodo wants to protect those he cares about, and they want to protect him in return. Merry shows he is sensible, practical, intelligent and very astute. Pippin, although quieter on the whole, lightens the mood in the manner in which he calls out Frodo to reveal what is really going. Fatty Bolger is afraid of the Old Forest, more so it seems than the threat of an encounter with a Black Rider (is that because he is the only one who hasn’t seen one yet?) And Sam, who often appears as rustic and open-faced, has proven he is the master of cunning investigative work…

And my last point in this section: I’ve always been uncomfortable with the nickname of Fredegar Bolger being “Fatty”. It seems unnecessary and unkind, and at odds with what we’ve come to expect of the story so far, and of the characters and their friendship, so I always find it jarring.

Next week we begin Chapter 6, The Old Forest. Anyone else excited?

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on

Middle Earth Musings and Meditations

This week in my “musings” section I could have written (at length) about two aspects of the book covered. The first was “secrets” and the second, “dreams”. However, my thoughts were sprawling and would have made this post impossibly long, but I am attempting to bring these bits and pieces together to form a coherent whole (eventually) behind the scenes, as it were. So, some time in the future, I might have an essay or two to share. But for now, my attention has turned towards something else which struck me.

As I read these few pages of Chapter Five, I couldn’t help but think that in actuality, the Fellowship begins here at Crickhollow, with the revelation of this conspiracy. Only it is friendship rather than a common purpose which has brought them together. This quote from Merry, spoken when Frodo comments, “But it does not seem that I can trust anyone,” captures this perfectly:

“…But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone…We are your friends, Frodo.”

They understand the peril and yet they cannot allow him to walk into it without them. And it’s not necessarily that they believe they can truly help him though they will try, even if the danger is great. After all, they are small hobbits, not Big Folk, and there’s not a swordsman or archer amongst them; their duty isn’t to go and protect him. It’s their duty to go because they are friends.

This is also reinforced, I think, by the hobbits cry of, “Three cheers for Captain Frodo and company!”


Not much to report under this heading this week as I’ve only read this week’s allocated reading and nothing else. So I thought I would share the next book cover in the film tie-in set (HarperCollins, 2012) I’m currently reading from:

The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week:

So, your choice this week is this: go with Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin into the spooky Old Forest where tales tell of strange things, or remain at the cottage in Crickhollow with Fredegar Bolger and attempt to deceive the locals (and anyone else who might turn up) that Frodo hasn’t left the Shire. Which do you pick and why?

Even though I could be very happy forever in the cottage at Crickhollow, I am so heading off into the Old Forest. I love spooky places, places full of mystery and I love woodlands and forests, especially ones that have folklore and myth and legend attached to them. And it’s clear from the way the Old Forest is spoken of that the locals who dwell on the edge of The Shire believe it to be somehow magical. Yes, dangerous and sinister too, but I’ll take my chances because you know, magical.

14 thoughts on “Tolkien Tuesday #11

  1. Not only do I not like the nickname either, it took me a few minutes to realise that Fatty was Fredegar.
    I agree. THIS feels like the true creation of the fellowship. And, were I Frodo, I would consider myself more than blessed to have such friends at my side.
    Definitely going into the forest. We needs must move forward!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I didn’t think all that much about the rest of the chapter, and I agree with the friendship aspect and everything else you say.
    About Fatty-Fredegar… yes, I also always disliked that, but I think it also shows the time it was written in, and in some way the Hobbits’ mindset. Back then, these unkind nicknames were more common (PC was an unknown term) and who is to say that a fat Hobbit is a bad thing for them? If I remember correctly, Hobbits tend to expand in the middle over time, and love the good life. And they aren’t reluctant at all to make fun of each other. Which is also someting I personally don’t like, but that’s their world. What also irks and irked me was the lack of female action, which would also show the time it was written. Eowyn is the big exception and anything but common. Arwen is a lot less active than the films show her to be. Galadriel doesn’t really count. In the Hobbit movies, Taniel was invented. Only in the Silmarillion, some female action was there for mothers, sisters and lovers, but the stories were still mostly about the men.
    Back in Tolkien’s time, men thought apparently that women weren’t going for adventure, completely forgetting the ones in the armies, the ones who worked and kept the families together during the world wars. But since that fossilized mindset still haunts far too many heads, nothing more needs to be said about that.
    The question: I find it hard to reply to this week. If I was part of the world, one of the friends, I’d probably stay at home, since I’m a big coward. In my younger days though I wanted to see the world and was doing things I wouldn’t do now, so maybe I would have gone with them. I know that I would have liked to, but would I have dared? I don’t know… Maybe it’s a good thing we don’t know what awaits us.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Interesting. It’s funny that it doesn’t bother me at all that it’s a band of males. If Hobbits like teasing each other and it’s accepted, who are we to say? Fredegar doesn’t seem to react negatively to the surname (unless I missed it?)

      Liked by 2 people

      • It never bothered me that much in the past, I grew up with this worldview. I only gradually grew out of it and now notice these things more. I’ve always loved adventure stories for girls (and women) though.
        I guess there’s a lot to discuss about this later when we meet Eowyn.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Very true, Gabi. It does show when it was written, yet for all that it doesn’t make the story feel dated like some stories written around the same time (I’m thinking of the Narnia books especially). And also another good point: it might not mean to hobbits what it means to us today.

      Like Dale says, it doesn’t bother me that the story is predominantly about males. Perhaps because I read the books before I really learned about equality and breaking away from traditional gender roles and expectations, etc… But again, you make a good point about how the books stand in light of modern issues. Would a story with hardly any female characters, except in footnotes and appendices, get published today? I’m not sure it would.

      And that leads on to another interesting question: if there were more female characters in the story, especially in the Fellowship itself, would it change the story?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve never read LOTR fanfic, but I guess the answer could be found there (if it isn’t all slash fic, no idea). Great question though! I think in that whole world would have to be different. Eowyn only works because no one found out. If the king had seen her, he’d have sent her home.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your insight about how this is where the fellowship really begins, and how you phrase their loyalty and willingness to help their friend. I don’t think it ever occurred to me how very brave it was of them to go off and support Frodo, given that –as you say– there’s not a fighter among them, and they have no real way of protecting him. But it’s enough just to be there with him and go through his struggle with him and help if they can.

    I agree that a nickname like “Fatty” doesn’t age well into the current generation of readers, and strikes me as cruel, too. Norms about such things have changed so much, and it differs across social groups too. From other books I’ve read, it was quite common for British schoolboys in past generations to give each other silly and rude nicknames, and it seemed more a badge of being part of the in-group than of intending cruelty. But then, friendly teasing doesn’t always come across as intended, and I’m not a fan of it, myself.

    It’s hard to answer the question of whether I’d go off with the rest of the group, knowing what actually awaits them and how much more dangerous it is than they could possibly suspect. My instinct would be to go on the big adventure, though; not so much the appeal of the spooky forest, but the appeal of going to see the rest of the world and especially to go visit the elves! It also occurs to me that staying at home like Fredegar does is pretty brave too, because he has to stay all alone with nobody to support him, nobody to share his secret cause with, and possibly defend the house from these creepy big folk strangers who are poking around. He’s basically a sitting duck there!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. My first reaction to reading these reactions was, Wow, Plot Bunnies reunion. Thank you Sammi for bringing us together on the same page.
    My other reactions? Everything’s been said.
    So which is it to be? As The Clash said, Should I stay or should I go.
    My inclination is to hold off and give Frodo time to get far away. But my desire is to follow him into the forest.

    Liked by 2 people

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