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Free Study Guide-The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien-Free Online Book Notes
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Chapter 3: A Short Rest

Summary

The journey continues, but soon provisions are running low with the destination still a long way off. Gandalf leads Bilbo and the dwarves to the Valley of Rivendell, where Elrond, a powerful elf- lord, lives in the Last Homely House. The group stays for a fortnight with Elrond, resting and being restored in body and spirit; they also stock up on provisions. On midsummer's eve, Elrond looks at the swords which Gandalf and Thorin have taken from the trolls' cave and tells them that these are old swords made by elves for the Goblin wars. Gandalf's sword is Glamdring, the Foe- hammer, and Thorin's is Orcrist, the Goblin-cleaver.

Elrond asks to look at Thorin's map. After examining it, he discovers that the map contains moon-letters -- special runes which can only be read by the light of the moon at certain times. The moon-letters tell the dwarves the way to enter the mountain. On Durin's Day, the last light of the setting sun will light up the keyhole of the secret entrance. Delighted with this news and refreshed by their rest, the company resumes the journey on the following morning.


Notes

This chapter continues to develop the character of Bilbo. His gentle side, characterized by his love of beauty and song, is clearly portrayed. The chapter also provides a brief interlude from adventure, characterized by a light and peaceful atmosphere. Throughout the rest of the novel, there will be this episodic alternating between adventure and rest, between fighting and peace, and between light and dark.

The adventuring party is staying with Elfrond to rest and gain provisions before tackling the Misty Mountains. The action is advanced through the finding of the moon-letters upon the map, which gives them information on how to find the secret entrance and provides them with one more reason to hope that their quest will be successful. Tolkien's introduction of elves, runes, ancient legends, and the names of the swords indicates his myth-making ability; it also serves to make The Hobbit fit into a larger literary framework of myths.

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