Monday, November 6, 2017

Another LOTR Read-Along: A Long-expected Party (FOTR 1, 1)

This chapter delights me. I love learning about the customs and day-to-day life of other cultures, and every culture in Middle Earth is so thoroughly thought-out that they seem completely real. Sometimes I almost forget this is fiction and not a sort of sociologically and linguistically inclined history.

Aren't Hobbits just the best? On their own birthdays, they give other people presents. They know How Not To Be Seen. They're good at gardening and farming. I want to be Hobbit, I admit it. (I also want to be one of the Rohirrim, but we haven't gotten to them yet.)

Did you notice all that foreshadowing going on in this chapter? The Gaffer warns Sam Gamgee that he'll land in trouble too big for him, Gandalf's real business is described as "more difficult and dangerous" than conjuring cheap tricks, etc. Very subtle and nicely done.

Don't you want to see some of Gandalf's fireworks? They sound magnificent, and way better than even what they conjured up in the movies.

I don't know how many of you have read The Hobbit, but just thought I'd mention a random cool thing. The first chapter of The Hobbit is called "An Unexpected Party." The first chapter of this is "A Long-Expected Party." So fun.

Favorite Lines:

Before long the invitations began pouring out, and the Hobbiton post-office was blocked, and the Bywater post-office was snowed under, and voluntary assistant postmen were called for (p. 26).

The art of Gandalf improved with age (p. 27).

"I might find somewhere where I can finish my book. I have thought of a nice ending for it: and he lived happily ever after to the end of his days" (p. 32).

"I am as happy now as I have ever been, and that is saying a great deal" (p. 35).

"It was a compliment," said Merry Brandybuck, "and so, of course, not true" (p. 38).

"Look out for me, especially at unlikely times!" (p. 40)

Discussion Questions:

Frodo, Bilbo, and Sam are all unlike other hobbits. What are some clues in this chapter that tell us that? How do other hobbits view them?


  1. I loved reading the first chapter again! XD The foreshadowing is so great and subtle. YES I want to see Gandalf's fireworks!!! XD Hm, well; the other Hobbits think that Frodo's a bit cracked (like Bilbo was) and they are beginning to think Sam's going that way too. ;-D I think Frodo's quieter than the other Hobbits, and maybe more thoughtful. You can already see Sam's loyalty in this chapter; I love it. XD

    1. MEM, isn't it just a cheery, happy, homey feeling? I mean, I know there's aching misery ahead for all involved, but still, this chapter just makes me so happy :-)

  2. Bilbo has learned over time to PLAN the party. ;D That is very cool!

    This chapter is just so cool! Gandalf's fireworks would be so amazing!!! He as, after all, improved! :)

    I think, as it states in the prologue, that as other hobbits want books to be uncontradicing and exact, Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam would be will to read any book? I don't know how exact that is, but it just came into my head.

  3. MC, haha! So true. Good for Bilbo.

    Yeah, there's something about how most hobbits only like to read books that don't contradict things they already know, so they find Bilbo and Frodo odd for wanting to learn new things. Is that what you're remembering?

    1. Yes, that is exactly it. I was being lazy and not wanting to look up exactly how it is phrased.

    2. MC, I was lazy too and just kind of mashed it together from memory.

  4. It is indeed a great chapter. I think Bilbo's differences are better depicted in The Hobbit, where he is the main character, as here we only see him through the gossip of his neighbours. He has lived an adventure, something rather uncomfortable for hobbits (more or less Tolkien's words in The Hobbit). And Frodo's yearning for adventure and seeing new things also set him apart. As for Sam, I think I need to read more to find out in which ways he's an unconventional hobbit, though it is already mentioned that he's learnt his letters, something already unusual. Great discussion :)

    Also, great foreshadowing! One can only be curious about things to come.

    My favourite quote has to be "I don't know half of you as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you as well as you deserve." (p.39)

    1. Irene, that line is just delicious, isn't it? I can never remember it quite perfectly enough to pop into conversation, but it tickles me whenever I imagine doing so.

      Have you seen the movie versions of LOTR?

      One of the things I love about this book is that it shows that being different can be a good thing. Bilbo and Frodo and Sam are unusual, and that's just as important as all the hobbits who are very usual indeed.

  5. Yes, I have seen the movies many times. I really like them! However, I have never seen The Hobbit Trilogy. I liked the first one but have fallen asleep while trying to watch the second one and I have been told that the third one is rather bad. Funny, because they're all directed by Peter Jackson and the visual treatment is similar. I guess this is consequence of The Hobbit and TLOTR being very different books that called for very different approaches in order to make to make a good movie out of them. starting by the very fact that TLOTR is told in three (or six) books, whereas The Hobbit is just one and probably one movie would have been enough ... anyway, this is totally off-topic :)

    1. Irene, I love the movies :-) They're what convinced me to read the books! And I'm a little weird in that I actually like the Hobbit movies better than the book :-o Although I love LOTR, I just can never quite convince myself to do more than kind-of like The Hobbit. Maybe I was too old when I first read it, in my mid-teens. Or maybe it's just that I dislike rambling stories. I like very focused stories with one main storyline that everything else ties into. And The Hobbit doesn't have that -- it has a main storyline, and then it kind of finishes that and goes on to another story, and... it lacks a central antagonist, that's a big thing. Also, the characters don't get developed much, other than Bilbo, and compared to the character development in LOTR, even his is kinda weak.

      So I love the movies because they're much more focused, they have a main antagonist, and they have such good character development. However, I know most people feel the opposite, so... that's okay, I won't hold it against you ;-)

    2. I was too old when I first read it in my mid-twenties (and reread it last year at 33; also reading TLOTR for the first time at that tender age) lol :)

      Very interesting points about the flaws of The Hobbit VS the strengths of its movies (and TLOTR). I'll keep them in mind while I read on.

  6. Well, since I'm finally re-reading, I thought I'd come back and read your read-along notes.

    I do love that the Hobbits give presents on their birthdays. It seems to me it would be a much better tradition than receiving, in a lot of ways! But I realize more and more how I am not fond of Hobbits in general (our lead Hobbits, yes), and I would be very unhappy living in the Shire. I would like Buckland a lot more! This is one of the several reasons I prefer the theatrical version of FotR... much less time spent in Hobbiton before we get onto the adventure.

    1. DKoren, sounds good to me, especially since I'm re-reading right now too!

      This is funny, because just this morning while I was getting dressed (in my Christmas shirt that says, "Do you wish me a merry Christmas, or mean that it is a...") I was realizing that the older I get, the fonder I am of hobbits and the more I long for a quiet life of growing things and tending them. Lol!

    2. I may have comments from L and M as well, as they're also reading, M for the first time. L's read through Two Towers, but back in 2001 and she never finished.

      Aww. I did realize this read-through that where I would not be happy in Hobbiton... Buckland might suit me nicely. I mentioned this to L last night and she was like no no no, Buckland is isolated and near the Old Forest and.... and I was like exactly! She, however, would like to join you in Hobbiton. That's her favorite place in Middle Earth.

    3. DKoren, awesome! I was just going to mention to you that I based a semester of literature classes around LOTR and used a lot of these same posts and questions and so on for that. I made it into a Google Docs thing so people can print it out if they want -- it's available on my Homeschool Resources page. If L or D would like to use any of them for M!

      I still would rather live in Rohan than anywhere else, even though Rivendell is my favorite place in Middle-earth. Rivendell intimidates me a little, and I would probably want to leave the Shire fairly often, but those windswept plains of Rohan? Swoon.


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