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The Hobbit

J.R.R. Tolkien

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The Hobbit | Discussion Questions 41 - 50


In Chapter 14 of The Hobbit how does the agreement reached between the Wood-elves and the Lake-men meet the needs of both sides?

The Elvenking feels sympathy for the plight of the Lake-people and brings food to sustain them. He also commits the services of craftsmen to build suitable shelters for the displaced population. The two leaders, Bard and the king, agree to send a joint expedition to the Lonely Mountain to recover the treasure. The king believes he has a right to a share, and Bard wants funds to reestablish his community. Both sides recognize that word of Smaug's death will spread rapidly and that there will be many contenders for the dragon's hoard, so it is wise to combine their efforts to accomplish the task more quickly than either could alone.

What are the two opposing emotions that the Lake-people feel in Chapter 14 of The Hobbit?

The inhabitants of Lake-town have just survived a violent attack by Smaug. The community was destroyed, along with most people's possessions. Many men were killed in battle, and the citizens were lucky to escape with their lives. These people have literally lost everything, and they face the bleak prospect of a cold winter with no shelter or food. On the other hand a certain burden has been lifted from them; Smaug's reign of terror is over, and they no longer have to fear an attack. Also the treasure is without its deadly guardian, so there is the possibility of acquiring the means to rebuild and reestablish trade. The Lake-people's spirits rise even more when the king of the Wood-elves arrives with supplies and agrees to provide assistance in building shelters.

In Chapter 15 of The Hobbit what is Thorin's response to Roäc's counsel of reaching a peaceful accord with the men and elves who approach?

Roäc, the raven, wisely understands that it is important to achieve peace between dwarves, men, and elves, though it will be costly. Thorin refuses to consider this practical suggestion and answers with great anger—and that he will part with none of the gold. In fact Thorin seems obsessed with hoarding the entire treasure, likely due to the dragon sickness, or greed, that it seems to cause. As a leader, Thorin does not recognize how vulnerable he is; the people lack supplies, and morale is wavering, at best.

What ideas are expressed in the song of the dwarves after they barricade themselves inside the fortress in Chapter 15 of The Hobbit?

The song celebrates the recovery of the lost kingdom and proclaims the death of Smaug. A tally of available weapons is next, reinforcing their determination to fight to maintain possession. The creations from the past are highlighted. Then the song requests assistance from distant kinsmen and ends with a summation of their current status and a promise to destroy their foes.

In Chapter 15 of The Hobbit what are Bard's reasons that his group should receive a share of the treasure, and what is Thorin's response?

Bard argues that his slaying of the dragon merits a share of the treasure as a reward. He also points out that some of the items comprising the treasure were originally the property of the men of Dale and therefore never legitimately belonged to the dwarves. Finally the archer emphasizes the great suffering the Lake-men have endured as a consequence of Smaug's attack. He reminds them that Smaug attacked Lake-town in retaliation for their helping Bilbo and his companions on their journey to the mountain to secure the treasure. Bard then appeals to Thorin's compassion and generosity. Thorin rejects all the arguments Bard makes and shuts the gate in his face. Clearly his judgment with respect to fairness is totally warped by his greed. He also ignores the lack of supplies in the fortress, not realizing that at some point his band will be forced to obtain basic necessities.

In Chapter 16 of The Hobbit what does Bilbo do when he realizes that compromise between Bard and Thorin is impossible?

After Bilbo hears Thorin's response to the advice from Roäc the raven, he realizes that the dwarf leader is firm in his position: the desire to maintain control of all the wealth has become his only goal. By possessing the Arkenstone, Bilbo recognizes he may have a way to help the sides come to an agreement. While standing guard he slips down the wall to carry the brilliant jewel to Bard and the Elvenking.

In Chapter 16 of The Hobbit what goals motivate Bilbo as contrasted with the goals that guide the actions of the leaders on both sides?

Thorin, the Elvenking, and Bard are all fixated on the treasure. Thorin is absolutely greedy, while Bard does have a legal right to some of the riches as well as a moral claim to restore what Smaug destroyed. The practical side of Bilbo understands that winter is imminent and neither side can maintain its position. Deep in his hobbit heart, he wants the adventure to be over; the warmth, security, and regular meals in Bag End are calling to him.

Why does the Elvenking treat Bilbo with such great respect in Chapter 16 of The Hobbit?

The king is certainly used to meeting prominent and impressive people. In contrast, Bilbo is a small, bedraggled hobbit who would not inspire respect in most people's eyes. However, the instant the Arkenstone is presented by Bilbo, the Elvenking recognizes the courage it took for him to offer the stone. He also understands the cleverness behind Bilbo's actions. At that point the king tells the hobbit that he is worthy to wear the elven-made mail and invites him to remain with his forces where he would be safe.

In Chapter 17 of The Hobbit what is Thorin's reaction to Bilbo's effort to mediate between him, Bard, and the Elvenking?

Thorin is still dominated by his lust for treasure. He also thinks that Dain's fighters will help him recover the Arkenstone. And he is so furious at Bilbo for removing the jewel that he raises the hobbit in the air to dash him down on the rocks below. Thorin has lost sight of the fact that the little burglar has twice rescued the dwarf party and has also recovered the gold from the hoard. Only Gandalf's presence prevents Bilbo's death.

In Chapter 17 of The Hobbit what event occurs after the defeat of Smaug, and why does it surprise Gandalf?

Just as the two forces—dwarves versus men and elves—commence their battle, thousands of bats fill the sky, blotting out the sun. Gandalf recognizes that goblins and wargs are about to attack the entire group, having used underground routes to travel there. The wizard is surprised because although he knew they would be attacking, he did not expect them to appear so rapidly. The men, elves, and dwarves immediately unify in combat, realizing they must work together or face certain death.

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