97 pages 3 hours read

J. R. R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 1955

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Important Quotes

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“[T]hey were, perhaps, so unwearyingly fond of good things not least because they could, when put to it, do without them, and could survive rough handling by grief, foe, or weather in a way that astonished those who did not know them well and looked no further than their bellies and their well-fed faces.”

(Prologue, Pages 5-6)

This description establishes several important elements of the tale: the archetype of the unlikely hero, and allusions to the central plot and conflict. Hobbits’ “bellies” and “well-fed” appearance suggest a life of gluttony and leisure. They do not look like heroes, living rather undramatic but fulfilling lives. However, their ability to “do without” good things is an ideal trait and alludes to the crux of the story’s conflict between good and evil: resisting the Ring’s temptation. Their resilience through “grief, foe, and weather” also alludes to the plot, as they encounter similar perils in their journey to destroy the Ring. The Prologue provides information about Hobbits to reveal that it is not despite but because of their simple demeanor and hardy traits that they are best suited for the quest.

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“Frodo had a very trying time that afternoon. A false rumour that the whole household was being distributed free spread like wildfire; and before long the place was packed with people who had no business there, but could not be kept out. Labels got torn off and mixed, and quarrels broke out. Some people tried to do swaps and deals in the hall; and others tried to make off with minor items not addressed to them, or with anything that seemed unwanted or unwatched.”

(Book 1, Chapter 1, Pages 37-38)

How the Ring comes upon the bearer is key to its range of influence. Bilbo was able to protect himself when the Ring came to him with pity, and Frodo inherits the Ring from Bilbo when the old hobbit decides to leave on a “permanent holiday.” The following day, relatives and neighbors bombard the home, clamoring over any item they can. In this