97 pages 3 hours read

J. R. R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 1955

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Prologue-Book 1, Chapter 2

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Prologue Summary

The Prologue explains the habits and genealogy of Hobbits, a people best known for their small stature (two to four feet), peaceful demeanor, bare and leathery feet, and traditional homes made in underground tunnels. Hobbits, who invented the art of cultivating and smoking pipeweed, prefer predictable lives of comfort and have historically paid little attention to the world outside their fertile lands of the Shire; they’ve never even engaged in war. Government plays a nominal role, as they are a generous and resilient community of farmers, craftsmen, and traders whose “Shirriffs” are “more concerned with the strayings of beasts than of people” (10). Hobbits have a keen ability to go unnoticed by men and are “curiously tough” and “difficult to daunt or to kill” (5). Despite their differences, Hobbits and Men are relatives, though records of their connection remain lost in history.

The Prologue also summarizes the events from The Hobbit and clarifies Bilbo Baggins’s account of acquiring the ring from a creature named Gollum 60 years prior. Those years ago, Bilbo found and stole the ring from Gollum, though he initially lied to Gandalf that he had won the ring fairly in a riddle contest with Gollum. He withheld the truth until Gandalf pressed him.