Friday, December 14, 2012

The Hobbit (spoilers)

Book cover
Just 20 minutes ago I finished rereading The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. It is Tuesday night, but this post is scheduled to go up at midnight on Friday. Coincidentally, that is the same time that I will be watching the midnight release of the movie with my boyfriend. Also coincidentally, it is the first midnight release of a movie I will attend.

[Actually, due to a mistake this post didn't go up at midnight. Oops.]

But back to the book.

My latest reading of The Hobbit was very different from when I read it before, years ago. I was younger then, and this may have been the first adult book I got my hands on. At any rate, it was the first book I read that...oh, how to put it?

During my first reading I was shocked to find, after the battle, that not all of the dwarves survived. I had thought that all heroes should live through their adventures, unless perhaps they are very old. And certainly one should not die when he had just recovered his lost treasure and his throne. I went to my parents in amazement that Tolkien defied these rules.

But by now I better understand that some people die when they shouldn't, and I have learned that some authors write their novels to reflect (or acknowledge) certain sad facts of life. It would have been miraculous if all of the dwarves had survived, too good to be true. And though it is fantasy, a good novel should still be believable. I expect Tolkien took this into account when Thorin died. In fact, it's amazing enough that Bilbo survived the adventure. And yet...

Yet some people find a courage and resourcefulness that they had not known existed in them, and this is something that we see in Bilbo. Dear Bilbo, who never expected to hold a conversation with a dragon, or that he could rescue mighty dwarves from more than one mess.

Yes, my reading of The Hobbit was different this time. Rather than reading the end with shock and sadness, it was merely with sadness. And rather than failing to wonder how a little hobbit like Bilbo survived, it is something that I questioned this time.

And I enjoyed reading it just as much this time as I did the first.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

Tolkien fought in the first world war in the trenches in France. I think that experience marked his realistic and unsentimental approach to life and death in his books.

Sarita Rucker said...

I think you're right.