The Hobbit | Study Guide

J.R.R. Tolkien

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The Hobbit | Chapter 7 : Queer Lodgings | Summary

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Summary

The eagles take the group as far south as possible to the Carrock. Gandalf tells them of his plans to leave soon, but first he takes them to "the Somebody," who happens to be a skin-changer named Beorn. He is human by day (very much resembling an Anglo-Saxon) and a big black bear by night.

Beorn takes the party into his hall, where he feeds them and then leaves for a couple of days. When he returns they learn he has been checking out their story. He has followed their tracks all the way back to the Misty Mountains. Beorn offers them his horses, which are like his children, to take them to the edge of the forest. When they arrive at Mirkwood, Gandalf tells them to send the horses back as promised and gives them the advice to stick to the path, "hope for the best," and with good luck, "you may come out one day." Then he gallops away. The troop is less than happy as they watch him ride off into the sunset.

Analysis

Again Tolkien's love for Anglo-Saxon culture is clear in the setting and events of Chapter 7, especially with the character of Beorn; he is a classic example of a Viking. He has a big hall in which to host Bilbo's crew; they drink mead just like the men of Beowulf. But as much as he is like a Viking, Beorn's home and lifestyle are very utopian. He grows everything he needs, so there is very little waste, and he gives back to the environment. It is very much an idyllic world.

Beorn, in all his gruffness, is also the most generous of hosts. He feeds his guests, provides shelter, and then lends his horses to them for the journey to Mirkwood. The horses are like his children, so it demonstrates his generosity, a quality that was very important in Anglo-Saxon leaders. Within the road of trials, Beorn represents an important and charismatic ally.

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