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Author Topic: ch. 16: A Thief in the Night  (Read 902 times)

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June 02, 2013, 02:46:04 AM

merrythought

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chapter 16
A Thief in the Night

Thorin’s obsession with the Arkenstone leads him to make threats, thus causing Bilbo significant discomfort--although the hobbit still does not reveal that he is in possession of the wonderful stone.  Meanwhile, reinforcements from Thorin’s cousin, Dain, are on their way.  The raven is not optimistic that the reinforcements will make it through, and warns an unmoved Thorin that, as winter approaches, “The treasure is likely to be your death, though the dragon is no more!”

Taking the Arkenstone with him, Bilbo offers to relieve Bombur of his night watch; but after Bombur leaves, Bilbo heads out into the dark.  He makes a difficult journey to the camp of men and elves; allows himself to be seized by two elven sentries; and is granted a meeting with Bard and the Elvenking.  Bilbo tells them of the dwarves’ dire situation; Thorin’s stubborn refusal to leave the Mountain; and the contract promising Bilbo his share of the treasure. He hands over the Arkenstone in order to give them the power to bargain with Thorin.  The Elvenking offers Bilbo shelter with the elves, promising that Bilbo will be honored to a degree he probably should not expect from the dwarves. However, the hobbit chooses to return to the dwarves.  On his way back, he meets up with a cloaked figure, who turns out to be...Gandalf.

*Is there significance to Gandalf showing up at this moment?

*What drives Bilbo to act as he does in this chapter? 

*Why does the Elvenking initially question Bilbo’s motives in crossing “enemy lines”?

*Should Bilbo have stayed with the elves?  Why didn’t he, when it may have been the more comfortable decision?

*What moral codes are expressed (directly or indirectly) by the characters?  Do individuals have their own morality in this novel, or is “group morality” (for example, dwarves vs. elves) more common?


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June 08, 2013, 08:24:37 PM
Reply #1

ss19

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I was very doubtful that Bilbo's plan was a good idea.  So many things can go wrong with the plan!  What if the Elvenking and/or Bard decide to keep the Arkenstone for themselves AND to still wage war with Thorin to get the rest of the treasures?  What if they do try to use the Arkenstone to bargain with Thorin like Bilbo suggested, but Thorin becomes very angry that Bilbo gave the Arkenstone to the enemy to use to bargain against him, and becomes impossible to reason with?  Whatever happens, we know that Thorin was adamant that the Arkenstone was his inheritance and he made it very clear to Bilbo and the other dwarves how important the Arkenstone was to him.  What Bilbo did, even if he had nothing to gain from it personally, seems to me like a very defiant and disloyal thing to do to Thorin.  I guess we could argue that Bilbo doesn't owe Thorin his loyalty at this point, having been "hired" to be the dwarves' burglar and having done his job very well so far.

My doubts were greatly reduced, however, when Gandalf appeared and approved of Bilbo's strategy.  For me, the fact that he approves is a clue from the author that everything will work out fine, seeing that Gandalf is the wise and all-knowing pillar in the story.

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June 09, 2013, 06:21:05 PM
Reply #2

Evreka

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When I thought that Bilbo was acting in a surprising and disloyal way by taking the Arkenstone for himself a few chapters ago, it was nothing to how I felt now: This feels like a true betrayal!  :scared: What has gotten into Bilbo lately! :surprised:

I was very doubtful that Bilbo's plan was a good idea.  So many things can go wrong with the plan! 
I agree, it is an utterly dangerous plan. And Bilbo could get in a very hot spot for making this decision. I wouldn't be at all happy with him if I was Thorin....  :lucius:


My doubts were greatly reduced, however, when Gandalf appeared and approved of Bilbo's strategy.  For me, the fact that he approves is a clue from the author that everything will work out fine, seeing that Gandalf is the wise and all-knowing pillar in the story.
Yes, I much prefer Tolkien telling me that this was a good thing to do after all, this way, than having the narrator come in like before and say so directly to me, the reader. I still find it a bit out of character and odd that Gandalf would just quietly sit down with the elves in this conflict instead of trying to work things out with Thorin first... I mean he doesn't even attempt to approach Thorin after his arrival to the mountain.
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June 24, 2013, 04:11:44 PM
Reply #3

HealerOne

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When I thought that Bilbo was acting in a surprising and disloyal way by taking the Arkenstone for himself a few chapters ago, it was nothing to how I felt now: This feels like a true betrayal!  :scared: What has gotten into Bilbo lately! :surprised:

I was very doubtful that Bilbo's plan was a good idea.  So many things can go wrong with the plan! 
I agree, it is an utterly dangerous plan. And Bilbo could get in a very hot spot for making this decision. I wouldn't be at all happy with him if I was Thorin....  :lucius:

You know, I think I had an opposite reaction to Bilbo's plan. I was proud of him for stepping up and trying to solve the conflict before it became a real battle - I know, I know - it didn't work out, but he did try! I thought he might have a real shot at it as Thorin really, really wanted that stone! I think Bilbo saw that Thorin was not being true to the very 'people' that helped him gain the fortune and that he was being foolish in not even negotiating with the  others. Obviously this plan was a long shot.

My feeling was that Bilbo felt he had lived up to his part of the bargain. He had been the thief more than once and saved the hides of the dwarves many times! He had earned his portion of the treasure. At this point he just wants to have a good meal, sleep comfortably and go home. I really wonder that he has a good grasp on just what is at stake for each of the parties involved? That Gandalf approved of the plan was icing on the cake for me. Why Gandalf did approve of his plan was more a wonder to me though ... What do you think?
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June 24, 2013, 06:45:35 PM
Reply #4

Eva Hedwig

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I was glad that Bilbo gave the Stone to Bard and the Elves, this was the best way to end endless and senseless discussions. Bilbo was right to choose a different way from Thorin's plan. He is after all a Hobbit and likes to have peace and a good food.

 Thorin would have starved them to death and caused fighting, missery and deaths for the only reason to not want to give away a bit of gold.
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June 26, 2013, 10:01:21 AM
Reply #5

Evreka

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Welcome to DS, Eva Hedwig!   :hug:

Thorin would have starved them to death and caused fighting, missery and deaths for the only reason to not want to give away a bit of gold.
It's a bit odd really that Thorin doesn't at all discuss the situation with the others. Granted, he is their leader, but he still seems like a poor leader for not even consulting the other dwarves, whose loyality he depends on, before engaging into war... :(
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