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Author Topic: chapter 9: Barrels Out of Bond  (Read 804 times)

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May 04, 2013, 11:08:04 PM

merrythought

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chapter nine
Barrels Out of Bond


South away! and South away!
Down the swift dark stream you go
Back to lands you once did know!

Tired, dispirited and hungry, the dwarves are captured by wood-elves; Bilbo, however, evades capture by again putting on his ring.  Once brought before the Elvenking, the dwarves are silent as to their reason for having entered the elven land without permission.  In anger, the Elvenking has them imprisoned separately, all over the palace. 

Bilbo finds out where each dwarf is kept, additionally discovering the presence of Thorin.  He also discovers that a stream flows under the palace and is used for the transporting of supplies (including wine) in barrels, which gives him an idea for how to escape.  An opportunity arises when the elves hold a feast, emptying many caskets of food and wine.  When the elven butler and the chief of the guards fall asleep after drinking wine, Bilbo steals the guard’s keys and releases the dwarves, telling of his plan to escape downstream in the barrels.

Bilbo oversees the “packing,” endeavoring to make the barrels more comfortable for the dwarves.  He also is conscientious to return the keys to the sleeping chief of guards shortly before more elves arrive and dispose of the barrels at the butler’s bidding.  At the last minute, Bilbo attaches himself to a barrel and falls into the stream with the rest of his company.

The barrels bob along as the stream meets a greater river until they run aground in Lake-town and are rounded up and placed upon a raft.

*Are the elves justified in imprisoning the dwarves?

*How would you characterize Bilbo’s relationship with the dwarves at this point? 

*How much of Bilbo’s success do you attribute to his possession of the ring, and how much to Bilbo’s skills and abilities?

*Thoughts on the chapter title?  In part, it refers to “the storage of wine in barrels ‘in bond’ until customs duty has been paid on the wine” 1.  What other ideas does it suggest?



1 http://www.tolkiensociety.org/ed/the_hobbit.html#ch9
« Last Edit: May 05, 2013, 10:12:55 AM by atschpe »


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May 09, 2013, 08:31:25 AM
Reply #1

Evreka

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It sure is lucky Bilbo found that ring!  :harryronbb: Again the operation would have been put to an end without it. (Unless the truth could have saved the dwarves.)

Perhaps the most interesting part of this chapter is how the elves are described here, I think. In Rivendell they were described as mischievious, happy beings, welcomming strangers to their valley; here they are mistrusting, suspicious beings who imprison wanderers who asks for food! Quite a difference, really, even if the dwarves are treated well, it seems harsh to lock them up for the sole reason they won't tell anyone where they are going - or why - as long as it is clear that they are just passing this country.

I like Bilbo's plan on how to get the dwarves out and the description of the grumpy dwarves getting packed into the barrels one by one is a funny one. At the same time... while the elven butler and the chief of the guards may well be asleep due to too much wine, it seems unwise to talk at all, much less protest, only a short distance away. Surely you can't open and close a barrel completely without any sound? Why risk waking them?

I don't believe it was a very comfortable ride for the dwarves though, and it must have been very hard for them to breathe at times! Do you think the hay they were packed with helped or hindered them from breathing?

Do the rest of you wonder what would have happened if the Raftelves had opened the barrels?
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May 25, 2013, 06:27:12 AM
Reply #2

ss19

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*Are the elves justified in imprisoning the dwarves?

Hmm, tough question.  On the one hand, the dwarves trespassing through the elves' home might be enough to justify the elves detaining them for questioning.  On the other hand, they could have just told them to leave or made them leave, instead of imprisoning them.

Also, it cost the elves a lot of food and drinks to have to keep feeding these 14 prisoners.  For that reason, they would have been better off sending these dwarves off instead of keeping them imprisoned.  It turned out that being captured by these elves helped the dwarves and Bilbo by allowing them to get nourished before they go on the rest of their journey.  It's kind of funny to think that all the dwarves and Bilbo wanted from the elves was to beg for some food and water, and though the elves were unhappy about this and captured them all for this reason, they did give them what they wanted after all.


*How would you characterize Bilbo’s relationship with the dwarves at this point? 

*How much of Bilbo’s success do you attribute to his possession of the ring, and how much to Bilbo’s skills and abilities?

I think a lot of Bilbo's success was due to his possession of the ring and to pure luck, but what's noteworthy to me is that his loyality to the dwarves motivated him to not give up but to keep trying to find a way to rescue them.  Bilbo had the protection of the magic ring and could have gotten away himself easily and then burglarized his way back home or maybe even to the Lonely Mountain to pick up the treasures before heading home.  But I think by now he has bonded with those dwarves and he couldn't just leave them behind.


It sure is lucky Bilbo found that ring!  :harryronbb: Again the operation would have been put to an end without it. (Unless the truth could have saved the dwarves.)

I don't believe it was a very comfortable ride for the dwarves though, and it must have been very hard for them to breathe at times! Do you think the hay they were packed with helped or hindered them from breathing?

I was scared for the dwarves, thinking they could easily die in those barrels without being able to get out of them if anything should go wrong.  The elves use that same method to transport these barrels repeatedly, so presumably it's a safe route and the barrels don't get damaged enroute, otherwise they wouldn't have kept using this method of transporting them.  However, these barrels are meant to be empty.  With much heavier weight than usual, how they move down the river might change, so there's really no way of being sure this was safe for the dwarves.

I'm more worried about them getting injured from banging their heads or bodies against the barrels as they bump their way down the river, not so much about how they'd breathe.  These are wood barrels and should float, so air shouldn't be too much of a problem, I think.  The straw that were placed inside the barrels should help provide some cushion, so I do think it's helpful to have that in.

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May 25, 2013, 10:29:11 AM
Reply #3

Evreka

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*Are the elves justified in imprisoning the dwarves?
... It turned out that being captured by these elves helped the dwarves and Bilbo by allowing them to get nourished before they go on the rest of their journey.  It's kind of funny to think that all the dwarves and Bilbo wanted from the elves was to beg for some food and water, and though the elves were unhappy about this and captured them all for this reason, they did give them what they wanted after all.
Yes, in a way the dwarves got precisely what they wanted (apart from the imprisonment itself): food, water and help on their ongoing journey. In fact they ended up going on in the only direction they could possibly get that far in. So when all is said and done the wood elves helped them survive and furthered their journey!  :fredgeorge:

As to merrythought's question: They are mostly imprisoned because they won't give their reason for travelling through the Mirkwood, I think. And I don't really see how this can be the Elf King's business. On the other hand, I suspect he wants the truth because the story he is given obviously doesn't hold water, and why would they hide anything if it wasn't necessary? So I think it's justified in the Elves eyes, but not in the Dwarves and that both points of view has some merit.


I think a lot of Bilbo's success was due to his possession of the ring and to pure luck, but what's noteworthy to me is that his loyality to the dwarves motivated him to not give up but to keep trying to find a way to rescue them.  Bilbo had the protection of the magic ring and could have gotten away himself easily and then burglarized his way back home or maybe even to the Lonely Mountain to pick up the treasures before heading home.  But I think by now he has bonded with those dwarves and he couldn't just leave them behind.
He would have been very, very lonely though, and quite ashamed of himself I think. Already when he escaped from the mountain and the goblins, did he reach the conclusion that he couldn't abandon them, and was about to return to the mountain, when he happened to catch up with them. So I think he has already thrown his destiny into theirs, and accepted that they are one group that should stick together.


I don't believe it was a very comfortable ride for the dwarves though, and it must have been very hard for them to breathe at times! Do you think the hay they were packed with helped or hindered them from breathing?
I was scared for the dwarves, thinking they could easily die in those barrels without being able to get out of them if anything should go wrong.  The elves use that same method to transport these barrels repeatedly, so presumably it's a safe route and the barrels don't get damaged enroute, otherwise they wouldn't have kept using this method of transporting them.  However, these barrels are meant to be empty.  With much heavier weight than usual, how they move down the river might change, so there's really no way of being sure this was safe for the dwarves.

I'm more worried about them getting injured from banging their heads or bodies against the barrels as they bump their way down the river, not so much about how they'd breathe.  These are wood barrels and should float, so air shouldn't be too much of a problem, I think.  The straw that were placed inside the barrels should help provide some cushion, so I do think it's helpful to have that in.
Good points, all of it!  :harry:
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