Literature Study GuidesThe Lord Of The RingsThe Fellowship Of The Ring Book 1 Chapter 7 Summary

The Lord of the Rings | Study Guide

J.R.R. Tolkien

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The Lord of the Rings | The Fellowship of the Ring (Book 1, Chapter 7) : In the House of Tom Bombadil | Summary

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Summary

Entering the house of Tom Bombadil, the hobbits find themselves in a well-lit room where, seated among water lilies, is Tom Bombadil's wife, Goldberry, the River's daughter. They are shown to rooms where they freshen up for supper, then join in a merry meal with Tom and Goldberry. After the meal, Frodo asks about the "Willow-man," but the others all think talking about their frightening experience should wait for daylight. They head off to bed.

The next morning, the hobbits enjoy breakfast in Tom's home, then settle in for a long talk and storytelling with Tom as the rain pours outside. He tells them stories of nature and of ancient times, when "only the Elf-sires were awake." The stories are like a spell on the hobbits, so they cannot keep track of time. When the rain stops, it is suppertime.

After another abundant meal, Tom's attention turns to the hobbits themselves—their story. Frodo finds himself telling Tom everything, and even showing him the Ring. Tom suddenly puts the ring on his own finger, but it has no effect on him. Furthermore, when Frodo tests out the Ring's power shortly after, he is invisible to all except Tom.

The hobbits plan to leave in the morning, and be on their way. Tom tells them a rhyme they can sing if they get into any trouble before leaving his lands.

Analysis

This chapter focuses on the strange and mysterious character Tom Bombadil, who, as many readers and critics have pointed out, does not fit easily into the mythos of The Lord of the Rings. When Frodo asks Tom who he is, Tom answers, "Eldest, that's what I am ... When the elves passed westward, Tom was here already, before the seas were bent." This description of the Elves passing westward and a time "before the seas were bent" references the world before the fall of Númenor.

Frodo also has another dream in which he sees a circle of hills surrounding a plain with a tall tower in the center. On the top of the tower, he sees the figure of a man, who "lifted his arms and a light flashed from the staff that he wielded" and who is carried away by a large eagle. He is also aware of Black Riders in the dream. This vision is of Gandalf who had been Saruman's prisoner at Orthanc and escaped with the aid of an eagle about one week earlier.

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