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?
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.