The Fellowship of the Ring
by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring The Home Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph) / (Prologue.Section.Paragraph)
"But the Forest is queer. Everything in it is very much more alive, more aware of what is going on, so to speak, than things are in the Shire. And the trees do not like strangers. They watch you. They are usually content merely to watch you, as long as daylight lasts, and don't do much. Occasionally the most unfriendly ones may drop a branch, or stick a root out, or grasp at you with a long trailer. But at night things can be most alarming, or so I am told." (1.6.12)
Here, Merry is telling Sam, Frodo, and Pippin a bit more about what he knows about the Old Forest, as they venture through it for the first time. This whole episode with the Old Forest is like a pre-season game for the Ring quest: it gives Frodo, Merry, Sam, and Pippin a chance to get into shape for future adventures. But wait a second: none of the enemies they're facing have any relevance to the later showdowns of the novel. Basically, the Old Forest section doesn't count, except that it brings the four Hobbits together in a time of crisis for the first time. It's their first experience leaving home, and they don't have the greatest time of it, but it's hardly the worst adventure that they'll face in their travels.
The Men of Bree seemed all to have rather botanical (and to the Shire-folk rather odd) names, like Rushlight, Goatleaf, Heathertoes, Appledore, Thistlewood, and Ferny (not to mention Butterbur). Some of the Hobbits had similar names. The Mugworts, for instance, seemed numerous. But most of them had natural names, such as Banks, Brockhouse, Longholes, Sandheaver, and Tunnelly, many of which were used in the Shire. There were several Underhills from Staddle, and as they could not imagine sharing a name without being related, they took Frodo to their hearts as a long-lost cousin. (1.9.45)
This meeting with the Bree-Hobbits is one of the last moments of real familiarity that Frodo, Sam, and Pippin experience (at least, until Frodo stupidly puts on his Ring). Even Rivendell, as lovely as it is, is clearly an Elf home; it's comfortable, but it's not Hobbity. Even though these Bree-Hobbits are not like the Shire folk, they're close enough – they share last names with people in the Shire, and they are still Hobbits after all, even if neither Frodo, Sam, nor Pippin know any of them. Like Shire Hobbits, they like having guests, but they are "plainly not very ready to take a large number of strangers into their little land" (1.9.48). Clearly, insularity (keeping to your small little world) is a genetic Hobbit trait.
[Frodo and Aragorn] stood for a while silent on the hill-top, near its southward edge. In that lonely place Frodo for the first time fully realized his homelessness and danger. He wished bitterly that his fortune had left him in the quiet and beloved Shire. He stared down at the hateful Road, leading back westward – to his home. (1.11.100)
On Weathertop, just before the confrontation with the Black Riders, Frodo finally realizes how much he has already lost. One of the things that is remarkable about both The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring is that Tolkien never shies away from talking about the loneliness and despair of adventure. It's not all high times with swords and Orcs: Frodo misses his home, and wishes everything could be different. Perhaps Tolkien's respect for the loneliness of fighting and adventure comes from his own experiences in the trenches of World War I. (Note: For more on Tolkien and war, check out John Garth's book on the topic.)