“The Hobbit” Read-Along: Chapter XVI, A Thief in the Night

15 Nov
Bilbo Baggins Delivery

Bilbo Baggins Delivery (Photo credit: nevermindtheend)

“The Hobbit” isn’t a very long book. It runs a mere 250 pages or so. For most of us, that’s easy. But not if you’re Bilbo Baggins. He’s not used to ten pages of adventures, much less 250.

Just look what he’s been through so far: He had to entertain a bunch of unappreciative dwarves without any notice. He had to leave home! He barely escaped being Troll Chow. He had to exchange riddles with one of the creepiest characters in all of literature. And let’s not forget the goblins, wargs, a werebear, giant spiders, a devious dragon and those most dangerous of all creatures, men.

So as you might imagine, our Mr. Baggins is getting a bit weary about now. Here he is, besieged in the Mountain with a bunch of grouchy dwarves and no end to the situation in sight. He just wants to go home. Unless he does something himself he’s likely to be stuck where he is for a very long time. That just won’t do.

Fortunately, Bilbo had the great foresight to burgle the one thing in the whole Mountain that Thorin wants more than anything else: the Arkenstone of Thrain. So, taking advantage of poor Bombur, Bilbo slips off to meet with the Elvenking and Bard. He tells them flat-out, “Personally I am tired of the whole affair. I wish I was back in the West in my own home, where folk are more reasonable.” And he offers them the Arkenstone.

Well, after Bard and the Elvenking pick their jaws up off the ground, they see what Bilbo has given them: the solution. With new respect, the Elvenking says to Bilbo, “Bilbo Baggins! You are more worthy to wear the armour of elf-princes than many that have looked more comely in it.” To which Bilbo replies, “Thank you very much I am sure.” What he actually means is, “Yeah, yeah, sure, sure. Just end this thing, will you?!”

I have felt for awhile that the Arkenstone is a type of the Pearl of Great Price from Jesus’ parable. You know the one. A man would go and sell everything he owns to possess it. Well, Bilbo used the Arkenstone to purchase what for him was the Pearl of Great Price. Home. It’s hard to argue with his wisdom.

Having struck the deal, Bilbo anxiously heads back to the mountain when who should appear from out of the blue? Why Gandalf, of course! His timing is impeccable as future tales will bear out.

As usual, Gandalf brings glad tidings: “There is an unpleasant time just in front of you; but keep your heart up! You may come through all right.”

Yeah, yeah, sure, sure.


Posted by on November 15, 2012 in Book Review


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9 responses to ““The Hobbit” Read-Along: Chapter XVI, A Thief in the Night

  1. jubilare

    November 15, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    I am very proud of Bilbo in this chapter. I think the bravest thing he does is not the theft of the Arkenstone (that may be the wisest of his actions), but his returning to the Lonely Mountain. He doesn’t have to. It is dangerous for him to go back. Thorin has lost himself almost completely to his desire for the Arkenstone and his own pride. But Bilbo’s sense of honor has grown along with his bravery, and he doesn’t leave Bombur to face the repercussions of trusting him. He goes back to face the consequences of his own choice. I absolutely love it!

    • Rob

      November 16, 2012 at 12:43 am

      You’re absolutely right. Even though Bilbo desperately wanted to leave, he couldn’t just let Bombur take the heat for letting him go off. Is this a great book for children or what? Adults too, for that matter. Thanks, jubilare.

      • jubilare

        November 16, 2012 at 12:39 pm

        Yes, indeed. Bilbo makes a pretty good role-model without being too perfect. 🙂

  2. Alpa

    November 15, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Although it is just a 250 page book, I remember I did take a lot of time to read it savoring everything that was coming in 🙂

    • Rob

      November 16, 2012 at 12:46 am

      Some books are just meant to be savored, no matter how long or short. This is definitely one of those. Since I’m personally such a slow reader, I get to savor a lot of books! I appreciate your comment, Alpa.

  3. David

    November 16, 2012 at 4:57 am

    Reblogged this on The Warden's Walk and commented:
    Bilbo sure has been through a lot.

  4. David

    November 17, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    I find Bilbo’s actions very interesting and mature in this chapter. Normally, I feel, stories and audiences would tend to look with disapproval upon his turning over of the Arkenstone as a betrayal of his friends; indeed, much as the dwarves and Thorin do. He could be disparaged as a traitor or a tattletale, or even accused of cowardice, but he doesn’t care about any of that anymore; at least, not enough to stop him from doing the right, but hard, thing. How often do people enable their foolish friends in the name of loyalty?

  5. Rob

    November 18, 2012 at 5:09 am

    Yeah, he definitely did the right thing. But there was a bit of self-interest in there as well. He was tired of the whole business and wanted to be done with it. Giving away the Arkenstone wasn’t ethically the perfect choice. One could spend hours lost in the gray. But it was the clearest path to resolving the impasse. Thanks for your view, David.


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