I'm not a huge fan of this section of the book, I'm just going to admit it here and now. I know a lot of people love it, and so every time I read it, I feel like I'm missing something. If you're one who loves it, can you please help me see what I'm missing?
Maybe what trips me up is all the religious imagery -- I know that Tolkien says in the "Forward to the Second Edition," which is included in my copy, that these books are "neither allegorical nor topical" (p. xvi). So I bounce between trying to figure out who or what Tom Bombadil is supposed to represent and saying that he doesn't represent anyone/thing... but then what is the point of this chapter? I'm so confused.
I mean, at the end of the previous chapter, Tom hops away singing, "Tom's going on ahead candles for to kindle" and "Fear neither root nor bought! Tom goes on before you" (p. 118). To me. that sounds so much like when Christ told his followers, "I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2b). And when the hobbits ask Goldberry who Tom Bombadil is, she simply says, "He is" (p. 122), which sounds an awful lot like God telling Moses that his name is I Am (Exodus 3:14). And then, when the hobbits leave, Tom teaches them something to say if they get in trouble that sounds awfully prayer-like, ending with "Come, Tom Bombadil, for our need is near us!" (p. 131).
I don't get it -- I'm horribly confused. If anyone can enlighten me, please do so!
The sound of her footsteps was like a stream falling gently away downhill over cool stones in the quiet of the night (p. 123).
As far as he could remember, Sam slept through the night in deep content, if logs are contented (p. 126).
Possible Discussion Questions: What's it all about, Alfie?