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The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien - Barron's Booknotes
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The war is over, and Bilbo finds that he's a hero. After many
fond farewells, he heads home.

Bilbo, who has been knocked unconscious, comes to and finds
himself alone. The war is over. He returns to camp to find
Thorin dying. Wanting to make amends with Bilbo, the dwarf
says, "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above
hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."

A recurrent theme of epics is redemption through courage. In
the French epic poem Le Chanson de Roland ("The Song of
Roland"), the hero is Roland, whose desire for prestige leads
him to take unnecessary risks with his men in battle, rather
than call for help. Roland's pride (a common flaw of epic
heroes) leads to disaster for himself and his men. Roland
redeems himself through heroism in battle, where he continues
fighting even when there is no hope for victory, and dies of his
wounds. Likewise, Thorin, who is guilty of greed, has redeemed
himself by entering the seemingly hopeless battle, risking his
life and exhibiting great courage.

Bilbo sets out for home with two chests of gold and silver, and
the friendship of dwarves and elves. When Bilbo and the
dwarves say good-bye, you can see how they have come to
reconcile their differences. Even though Balin's farewell is stiff
and formal and Bilbo's is comically casual and more modern,
the message is the same: stop by and visit. Through this,
Tolkien points out that, despite surface differences, there are
underlying similarities uniting them. Against a common
enemy, all disagreements over wealth and all past grudges
about perceived wrongs seem petty in comparison. Friendship
emerges as something of great value.

The war has had its positive aspects. Tolkien tells you that, in
the years following, the few surviving goblins hide in fear and
the Wargs vanish completely. The forces of good are free to
settle the land unmolested.

Bilbo begins his journey home, accompanied by Gandalf, and
stops in Rivendell on the way. The songs of the elves repeat
Tolkien's antiwar theme: moonlight and starlight and a fire in
the hearth are more important than gold and silver. But they
also add a new twist: the elves, who are strongly allied with
nature, sing about nature's permanence. Kingdoms rise and fall,
yet in the valley of Rivendell the grass is still growing and the
elves are still singing.

Gandalf and Elrond reveal their awareness that this war has not
vanquished evil; evil has been destroyed before, only to appear
again in another place. This theme may seem to be an
intentional foreshadowing of the events later told in The Lord
of the Rings, but it is not. Tolkien at this point had no intention
of taking the story of Bilbo and Middle-earth any further.

Still in possession of the magic ring, Bilbo returns home to find
that he is presumed dead and that his effects are being
auctioned off. His adventures have prepared him to cope with
this problem, however, and he soon regains possession of Bag

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The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien - Barron's Booknotes

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