the Little Red Reviewer

You didn’t say there was gonna be spiders! (Hobbit read along, part 2)

Posted on: August 20, 2011

you know how Indy hates snakes? I’m like that with spiders.  When I see ‘em in the apartment, someone else hasta squish ‘em. And if no one else is around, I vacuum ‘em up, and then throw the vacuum out.  Ok, not exactly, but you get the picture.

I for one, am shocked! i say shocked! that I survived the spider scenes in The Hobbit. I could barely get past the spider scenes in Harry Potter, and those were (sort of) nice spiders!

Anyways, welcome to part 2 of our The Hobbit read along! Interested in joining? sign up here, or here.  We’ll be picking up The Lord of the Rings trilogy next month, so there’s more excitement to come!

This week’s discussion questions are for the middle-ish chunk of The Hobbit:

there’s some thought that Gandalf purposely didn’t prepare the dwarves and Bilbo very well, that much of their trials is him testing them. What do you think of that theory, and what do you think he’s testing/preparing them for?

what did you think of Bilbo’s escape plan from the Wood-Elves?

do you like Tolkien’s writing style?

What did you think of Smaug? how does he compare to other fantasy novel dragons you’ve come across?

How in the world is a hobbit and a bunch of unorganized dwarves who have hardly any weapons going to defeat an angry and greedy dragon??

Everyone else’s responses:
The Blue Fairy’s Bookshelf
Geeky Daddy

Leave your comments and a link to your answers below!

that's actually really creepy looking!

There’s some thought that Gandalf purposely didn’t prepare the dwarves and Bilbo very well, that much of their trials is him testing them. What do you think of that theory, and what do you think he’s testing/preparing them for?

On the one hand, that’s kind of a jerky thing to do, since this is a pretty dangerous quest, and like, people could die and stuff. On the other hand, that’s some damn smart plotting!  And he does manage to show up exactly when they need him. . . so maybe there is something to that theory?

What did you think of Bilbo’s escape plan from the Wood-Elves?

So very un-hobbit like! sneaking and hiding in barrels, and possibly drowning and jumping into a river when you don’t really know where it comes out at. . .  Bilbo, I’m so proud of you!

do you like Tolkien’s writing style?

ahh, sometimes?  Sometimes it’s cool, because it’s like a grandpa telling a story to all the grandkids. But other times I’m like “is that all you’ve got?”  for the most part, his writing style doesn’t really draw me in and isn’t doing much for me. I can see why I didn’t get very far into this when I was younger.

What did you think of Smaug? how does he compare to other fantasy novel dragons you’ve come across?

Smaug is pretty damn cool.  For one, he talks. For two, he’s kind of a bastard!  bragging about all the people he ate, and what he’s going to do to the thief in his cave. Other than Gollum, he’s probably the funnest character I’ve come across so far.  too bad he’s so gullible. . .

How in the world is a hobbit and a bunch of unorganized dwarves who have hardly any weapons going to defeat an angry and greedy dragon??

you know, I wish I knew.  at this point, I don’t even know if everyone is going to survive or not.  so long as there aren’t any more stupid spiders!

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11 Responses to "You didn’t say there was gonna be spiders! (Hobbit read along, part 2)"

I’m jumpin’ in here, having just re-read The Hobbit last month. I probably read it first, oh, forty years ago. (gasp.)

My observations:

The Hobbit is definitely a read-aloud book intended for children, say, ages 5 to 12, but enjoyable and smart enough for adults to enjoy, too. Tolkien’s voice here is quite different from Lord of the Rings. It’s far more humorous and playful, and even the nasty/creepy characters are funny. One needs to read him in context of 1930s and 40s children’s literature. The pace and tone is a world apart from Dr. Seuss and other modern children’s writers. The author weaves a spell, and if you heard it read aloud by a good reader, the significance and excitement of it might be more apparent.

I see Gandalf as a kindly adviser, who clearly dwells on another plane from most of the other characters, as evinced by his powers and perspicacity. His concerns merely overlap in some areas with the dwarfs. He lets them find their own way to accomplish their goals. If one gets too much help, one’s quest is meaningless, and it isn’t properly An Adventure. They certainly are a bumbling bunch, but they learn and improve through their ordeal. That’s exactly as it should be, and is a parallel to the experience of “growing up” and becoming.

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I’m catching up with the Read (re-read) Along, full explanation in my post: http://bluefairysbookshelf.blogspot.com/2011/08/hobbit-read-along-parts-one-and-two.html

In short, I’d like to note that I appreciate the style a lot more than I did when I read this as a kid. In the historical context, Tolkien and his peers were forging what we think of as fantasy out of a mixture of fairy tale and myth. Fairy Tale aspects are still strong in this one, like the little guy tricking the big bad guy (think Puss in Boots), “Stay on the PATH”, the use of riddles in conflict, the meeting with Beorn is like something out of Celtic or Norse myth. Yes, this book is intentionally aimed more at children, like Narnia. (Although it was even lighter in tone before Tolkien later revised the text here and there to be more in line with the plot of LOTR!)

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Opally, you’re right, this would make a great read-out-loud book. When I was a little girl, my Mom read Gulliver’s Travels to us before bed. I should have requested The Hobbit instead! I don’t mind the YA aspects, but I do need to keep them in mind more while reading it.

Lindsay, thanks for linking, I added your link into the main post. :) I do love the riddles and the tricks!

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Oh I hated the spiders. Such creepy spiders! I loved picturing the dwarves and Bilbo escaping in the barrels. What an awful ride!

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Have you read the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher yet? One of the books has a really creepy scene with some giant spiders that have human mouths. It was fairly creeptastic!

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TBM – I’m just thankful the spider part was a short as it was. When we get to the Shelob bits in LOTR, I am so screwed. I had to close my eyes at that part of the movie!

Alaric – I’ve only read the first Butcher, tell me which book has those giant spiders so I can skip that one! that’s not fairly creeptastic, that’s where do I sign myself into the mental instituion creeptastic. srsly!

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Tolkien’s style is something I really disliked at one point, but I’m actually warming to it these days. Most of the time it is quite ‘dry’, and doesn’t have the poetry or expressiveness that I’m used to when it comes to authors, but it seems to work oddly well for The Hobbit. It has a classic sort of light charm to it that compliments Bilbo’s journey.

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Hello everyone. I hope that everyone is enjoying The Hobbit. I know that there were several that is not like the spiders chapter..:) You can see my reflection here: http://geeky-daddy.blogspot.com/2011/08/hobbit-group-read-long-discussion-part_22.html

I will say Tolkiens reading I get more into compared to CS Lewis.
This books sure if a crazy ride for Bilbo and Co.

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Hearthesea – I think if I read The Hobbit again in a few years I’ll like the style more. It’s a little like a strange new food, you’re not sure if you like it until you’ve had it a few times. the book certainly does have that classic feel to it!

Geeky Daddy, I added your link into the main post as well. :) hmm, I’m the opposite, I was able to get into Lewis a little easier, but I only read the first 3 Narnia books, so maybe that’s saying something unto itself?

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Yikes, those shoes are so incredibly creepy looking. Seems like something a serial killer might have designed!

I’m glad you are enjoying The Hobbit. I look forward to jumping on board with you guys/gals for The Two Towers in October.

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Yeah, the spider bit freaked me out the first time when I was ten years old and it still does every time I reread the book. It was inspired by an encounter Tolkien had with a baboon spider in Africa as a child.

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