The Hobbit | Study Guide

J.R.R. Tolkien

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The Hobbit | Chapter 16 : A Thief in the Night | Summary

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Summary

Several days pass in a standoff; the dwarves are trapped inside Lonely Mountain, and the armed men and elves block the exit.

Roäc, the raven, reappears and reports that Dain and his troop of 500 are near but predicts that is not enough force to defeat the opposing troops. He again encourages Thorin to settle the affair peacefully. Thorin rejects this advice, and in despair Bilbo Baggins decides to take action, trying to force Thorin's hand.

Still in possession of the Arkenstone, Bilbo takes a turn at guard duty and heads to the elves' camp. When he is taken to the leaders, Bard and the Elvenking, Bilbo reports the movement of Dain's warriors and gives the Arkenstone to them, hoping they can use it to bargain with Thorin. Bilbo meets Gandalf in the camp, but he returns to the dwarves in the fortress.

Analysis

Thorin has forgotten about the symbiotic relationship his people used to have before Smaug destroyed the dwarves, elves, and Lake-men's way of life. He has been struck by dragon sickness and is not open to reason.

Even Roäc the raven, a trusted advisor, can't change Thorin's mind. Bilbo has to make the difficult decision to betray Thorin for the good of all parties. Bilbo gives away the treasure he stole to restore his trustworthiness and honesty. Even so, Bard and the Elvenking accuse him of betraying them and Thorin, but then they see how difficult it is to give up the enchanted stone, and Bilbo tells them he will go back to Thorin. They realize what a tough decision Bilbo had been faced with and see his goodness. In the approach step of his hero's journey, Bilbo attempts to effect a peaceful settlement by giving the Arkenstone to the Elvenking as a bargaining chip.

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