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!
A Short Cut to Mushrooms
As they continue to scramble through the woods to avoid the Black Rider, the hobbits find themselves walking through the farmland of The Farmer Maggot. Frodo is dreadfully terrified of Farmer Maggot's dogs as he had been caught stealing mushrooms as a child... yet the Farmer Maggot seems much more kind than he remembers and invites the hobbits in for dinner. Inside, he tells them about a strange man who had been asking for Mr. Baggins, but Frodo does not reveal much to him. After dinner, Maggot offers to give the hobbits a ride to the ferry in his wagon. On the road, they encounter a hooded rider and are quite terrified... until he reveals himself to be Merry.
One thing that stuck with me was just how close the Black Riders keep getting to the hobbits and yet how quickly the forget, feel safe, and start singing loudly! It might be totally unrelated but it reminds me of how quickly the Israelites lost faith in God in the Old Testament. Maybe Tolkien was reflecting on how quickly we go back to our natural state - for the hobbits, they are naturally very cheerful and celebratory so they seem to keep forgetting they're actually in grave danger, despite being actively followed by a black rider!
I also LOVED how Farmer Maggot sassed the Black Rider! May we all be so brave in the face of the enemy!
The ending of the chapter reminded me of Tolkien's great sense of humor - especially when we hear someone approaching and instantly assume it's a Black Rider... but it's actually Merry. And then the bit when Frodo realizes the Farmer Maggot left him with mushrooms was so hilarious! Classic Tolkien brilliance.
Kimberly added that she loved the intermingling of light and darkness in this chapter; while much of it is so dark and sinister, the light and joy of friendship and good hospitality also shines through.
And Jennifer wrote, "I just love Tolkien's description of friendship. I think so much of today is focused on doing things by ourselves. Being self-sufficient. But I think we, us moms especially, miss "the village", or the community. So much of this journey so far has been Frodo trying to do things by himself, but then needing others for help, courage etc. The hobbits have a deep-seeded friendship, and literally are putting their lives knowingly at risk for the sake of a friend. It's so different from the society that's become norm in modern day."
This chapter was very short and I was relieved to be at the end of it. After an incredibly stressful journey, the hobbits were finally reunited with Merry and off to Frodo's new home quite safely. These little pockets of rest and comfort amongst so many perils are very welcome - both for the hobbits and for the reader!
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, Karen Perez, Kenzie Key, Liz Schriver, and Kira Bridges of Joy Pursued. 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. :)