70 pages 2 hours read

J. R. R. Tolkien

The Hobbit

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 1937

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Important Quotes

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”[Y]ou could tell what a Baggins would say on any question without the bother of asking him. This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected.”

(Chapter 1, Page 5)

Tolkien sets up the story with remarks on just how unremarkable hobbits typically are (at least from an outside perspective), and this incongruity—i.e., Bilbo’s anomalous adventurousness—provides the drama of the entire story that will follow. Bagginses in particular, as the narrator explains, will never surprise you and are eminently predictable. In contrast, Bilbo entirely breaks the mold; he thinks, speaks, and acts in ways very unlike a traditional Baggins.

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”I should think so—in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t think what anybody sees in them.”

(Chapter 1, Page 7)

True to form, Bilbo informs Gandalf that “adventure” is a dirty word in his neck of the woods and that wandering around looking for someone to partake in one is bound to end poorly (additionally, being late for dinner is a cardinal sin in the eyes of a hobbit). Hobbits’ quietness is one of their principal qualities, and an adventure would only spoil that; the irony is that the “nasty disturbing” nature of Bilbo’s impending adventure will be the very thing that refines his virtue and character for the rest of his life.

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”The dark filled all the room, and the fire died down, and the shadows were lost, and still they played on. And suddenly first one and then another began to sing as they played, deep-throated singing of the dwarves in the deep places of their ancient homes.”

(Chapter 1, Page 15)

Music plays an absolutely essential cultural role for the various peoples of Middle Earth. Throughout the book, songs are sung by the dwarves, by Bilbo, by the elves, and even by the goblins.