Every Monday, our Facebook group has been discussing one or two chapters from the Lord of the Rings, and so I'm happy to be sharing a little bit of our conversation and reflections as we go! If you'd like to read along with us, join our Facebook group! Otherwise, leave your comments below and we can continue the discussion!
Book I, Chapter III: Three is Company
After much preparation, Frodo finally says goodbye to Bag End and begins toward his new home in Buckland - and just in the nick of time it would seem! As Frodo, Sam, and Pippin set off on foot through the woods, they are closely pursued by a mysterious Black Rider which fills Frodo with dread and a nearly overwhelming desire to put on the Ring. The hobbits come across a group of Elves, among them is Gildor, who offers Frodo unsettling yet council along with food, drink, and a safe place to rest for the night.
Book Club Musings
I so enjoyed Tolkien's sense of British humor when, upon finally relinquishing Bag End to Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, Tolkien writes, "Frodo did not offer her any tea." It is apparently the ultimate burn, and I just can't believe I haven't found it hand-lettered anywhere online. If you've got a knack for lettering and calligraphy, please oh please hand-letter this quote for me. ;)
We also loved Sam's reaction after meeting the Elves for the first time, as he told Frodo he thought the Elves were quite above his likes or dislikes.
On a more serious note, most of our group's discussion revolved around Frodo's conversation with Gildor. The dialogue is so full of life, humorous, and yet grave at the same time. The lightheartedness of the Elves and the immediate sense of safety felt amongst them was a welcome relief after much of the chapter was spent in the danger of the Black Rider. Courtney added that she felt this conversation marked an historic change in the relationship between hobbits and Elves, as their fates were now, in a small way, mingled.
This chapter is also home to one of the more famous Lord of the Rings quotes: "But it is not your own Shire,' said Gildor. 'Others dwelt here before hobbits were; and others will dwell here again when hobbits are no more. The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out.'"
As well as: " 'And it is also said,' answered Frodo: 'Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.'"
The hymn to Elbereth, as sung by the Elves, also brought to mind the Catholic prayer, Hail Holy Queen. As we'll continue to read, there will be many more references to Elbereth and in her, we see many echoes of Our Lady, the Virgin Mary.
Snow-white! Snow-white! O Lady clear!
O Queen beyond the Western Seas!
O light to us that wander here
Amid the world of woven trees!
Gilthoniel! O Elbereth!
Clear are thy eyes and bright thy breath!
Snow-white! Snow-white! We sing to thee
In a far land beyond the sea.
O Stars that in the Sunless Year
With shining hand by her were sown,
In windy fields now bright and clear
We see your silver blossom blown!
O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!
We still remember, we who dwell
In this far land beneath the trees,
Thy starlight on the Western Seas.
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve: to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus, O merciful, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! Amen.
This chapter was mingled with both lighthearted joy, as the hobbits are singing and generally being silly while they walk, and a sense of grave peril. The slow changing of tone is fitting as this really is Frodo's first occasion of great danger, although he hasn't come to realize how great just yet.
A thank-you to the wonderful members of our community who participated in this week's discussion: Jen Olsen of Fiore Design Studio, Courtney Dethlefs, Kimberly Ewalt, Molly Walter of The Merrier World, Regina Murrieta, Liz Schriver, Kira Bridges of Joy Pursued, and Christie Stevens.. If you shared your thoughts on our group discussion thread and I missed you, please let me know & I'll add you to the list. :)