Without quite being aware of it, I’ve allowed the past 3 weeks to slip by with much studying for midterms and no postings of the blog.  Now that midterms are over, the time has come for important things again, like Lord of the Rings.

I know I am spending a long time thinking about the long expected party.  But the chapter merits a long time, for it is long, and it is the setting of the stage for everything that follows.

I’ve been thinking about Frodo’s entrance into the course of events.  It is so unimposing.  The way the chapter starts out, you would think that the whole romance was to be about Bilbo.  He is, after all, the main character who is already known from The Hobbit, and Frodo only appears incidentally as his birthday-sharer and heir.  The first time we actually get a glimpse of Frodo (directly following Bilbo’s disappearance, interestingly), he is sitting and saying nothing.  Then, perhaps in an attempt to get us inside this important hobbit’s head after the momentous disappearance of his uncle, Tolkien slips in the odd remark that Frodo “realized suddenly that he loved the old hobbit dearly.”

I don’t know why I find this sentence annoying.  I think it’s because I don’t really believe in real people “suddenly realizing” such things at such moments… it smacks faintly of artificiality, and of the chiefly unimaginative authorial device of getting us inside someone’s head by having them “suddenly realize” something (usually something about himself which a real person would have known for some time).  So, then, Frodo shows up as a quiet character who really doesn’t know much about himself.

I should admit, however, that in several more paragraphs, Frodo appears to better advantage when he returns to Bag End after Bilbo’s departure.  Frodo is a very gracious sort of host, though from the beginning he is tired and weary (he “looked indisposed…. but he spoke quite politely” [47]).  He does begin to take on his own voice and character—a soft voice, and a quiet, sometimes harried, but always “honest” and frank character—in opposition to Gandalf’s terseness and abruptness and mysteriousness.  By the end of the chapter, after his last conversation with Gandalf about not using the Ring, he is off to his own good, quiet, still rather self-ignorant start.