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! I'm quite behind on posting these so I'll try to catch up in the upcoming weeks!
The Old Forest
Leaving behind the safety and comfort of Crickhollow, Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin begin their journey through the Old Forest. As they enter, they soon understand that the horrible legends and tales of the forest were quite true, and soon they are hopelessly lost. Paths shift before them, leading them down into the center of the forest rather than through it. Soon Sam finds himself needing to rescue Frodo out of the River because, as Frodo claims, a tree threw him in! And after becoming drowsy and falling asleep against the roots of a great willow, Merry and Pippin are soon swallowed up by the tree's roots itself!
Frodo calls desperately for help and is answered by Tom Bombadil.
"At any rate he was too large and heavy for a hobbit, if not quite tall enough for one of the Big People, though he made noise enough for one, stumping along with great yellow boots on his thick legs, and charging through grass and rushes... He had a blue goat and a long brown beard; his eyes were blue and bright, and his face was red as a ripe apple, but creased into a hundred wrinkles of laughter. In his hands he carried on a large leaf as on a tray a small pile of white water-lilies."
While Tom is puzzling, he makes quick work of saving the hobbits. He quickly frees Merry and Pippin with a song, and then continues on his way, beckoning for the hobbits to follow him towards his home.
Book Club Musings
This chapter spoke to the power nature holds over the earth. Although our forests are not enchanted and our trees do not have wills of their own, Tolkien's forests can serve as a reminder that we do not own the earth. The earth is powerful in its own ways and while we may cut down trees and make paths of our own, like the hobbits had done in the past, there is no guarantee these paths will stay the same.
I also wanted to share this quote from one of our book club members because I loved how insightful it was:
"It struck me how afraid the hobbits were when they entered the Old Forest. And how oppressive the trees made them feel. No actual harm came to them, before Old Man Willow, it was like psychological warfare, against their emotions. And how powerful that can be. And yet Tom (or Someone) seemed to guide them to safety, where they would be saved and helped and fed and sung to." - LaNel Newman Davenport
In the next chapter -- one of my favorites-- we will come to learn so much more about Tom Bombadil and Middle-Earth itself.
What were your thoughts on this chapter? Leave a comment to keep our book club discussion going!