The Hobbit | Study Guide

J.R.R. Tolkien

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The Hobbit | Chapter 10 : A Warm Welcome | Summary

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Summary

After the dwarves recover from the uncomfortable trip downriver, Thorin presents himself to Lake-town's Master and describes his mission. The Wood-elves challenge Thorin, saying that the group is made up of escaped prisoners and should not be welcomed. However, the citizens of the town press the Master to give the dwarves a positive reception. The Lake-people remember the songs and tales of old, and they are enamored with Thorin and his group. When the Master gains knowledge that some of the treasure is hidden in the mountain, he accepts the dwarf band, and they receive two weeks of food and provisions. Once they leave, the Master is glad to have them out of his domain.

Analysis

Although not a great deal of plot movement occurs in this chapter, Bilbo realizes that—in traveling by the river route—the group has been far luckier than he had realized. If the group had stuck to the path in Mirkwood, they wouldn't have been captured by the elves and would have certainly perished. Luck is on their side. The group gains new allies—the Lake-people—in this part of the road of trials.

Bilbo begins to sense he is living out his destiny. We also see how oral tradition is very important both to the Lake-town people and to Thorin. When he tells the people who he is and that he's there to reclaim his birthright, he taps into the memory of the people, since all remember the stories of the dragon burning the villages and killing Thorin's people.

Again Tolkien brings in the Old English culture and the respect people had both for tradition and royals. Just as it was in the Anglo-Saxon culture, the history and traditions were passed down through the song and poetry of storytellers. There is a song that the Lake-men sing that tells of a prophecy where Thorin's people come back and restore the area to greatness.

In fact if the song is studied closely, it is a source of foreshadowing. But the people seem to ignore the line, "The lakes shall shine and burn." And the lakes will do just that as the dwarves finish the last leg of their adventure. Tolkien masterfully transforms Thorin in this chapter. He has shown himself to be somewhat authoritative, but he relies on Bilbo to lead most of the time. Here he makes his legacy known. He has a commanding presence and quickly develops into a leader even though he is exhausted, dirty, and starving.

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