The Fellowship of the Ring
by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring Race Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph) / (Prologue.Section.Paragraph)
Gildor was silent for a moment. "I do not like this news," he said at last. "That Gandalf should be late, does not bode well. But it is said: Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger. The choice is yours: to go or wait."
"And it is also said," answered Frodo: "Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes." (1.3.165-6)
All of the peoples of Middle-earth are strictly divided into races: Men, Elves, Wizards, Orcs, etc. And while there is some variation within these groups (High Elves vs. Wood Elves, the Orcs of Isengard vs. the Orcs of Mordor), they are mostly alike. There appears to be much less variation among the different kinds of Hobbits (Stoors, Fallohides, and Harfoots) than there is within different human races. Why do you think this is?
The Big Folk and the Little Folk (as they called one another) were on friendly terms, minding their own affairs in their own ways, but both rightly regarding themselves as necessary parts of the Bree-folk. Nowhere else in the world was this peculiar (but excellent) arrangement to be found. (1.9.4)
The Fellowship of the Ring is unusual because it brings together Dwarves, men, Elves, and, of course, Hobbits. We get the sense that there isn't much (peaceful) mixing among the peoples of Middle-earth. Sure, the Elves are happy to host visitors at Rivendell, but you don't find Dwarves living there unless they absolutely have to. In fact, peaceful coexistence between peoples in the same village is so unusual that it is worth pointing out: the narrator observes that Bree has a "peculiar (but excellent) arrangement" in which men and Hobbits live together. Why do you think Dwarves, Elves, men, and Hobbits don't usually share land? Under what circumstances do they have to? What do these difficulties tell us about Tolkien's conception of race in Middle-earth?
"No one lives in this land. Men once dwelt here, ages ago; but none remains now. They became an evil people, as legends tell, for they fell under the shadow of Angmar. But all were destroyed in the war that brought the North Kingdom to its end. But that is now so long ago that the hills have forgotten them, though a shadow still lies on the land."
"Where did you learn such tales, if all the land is empty and forgetful?" asked Peregrin. "The birds and beasts do not tell tales of that sort."
"The heirs of Elendil do not forget all things past," said Strider; "and many more things than I can tell are remembered in Rivendell." (1.9.30-2)
There's this sense of collective memory in Lord of the Rings: not only does the landscape itself carry the ruins of previous kingdoms and peoples, but the "heirs of Elendil do not forget all things past." In other words, stories get passed down family lines. And of course, a lot of the Elves have living memories of the oldest days of Middle-earth. Tom Bombadil can remember a time even before the Elves and men of Middle-earth, and the trees of the Old Forest recall when the forests ruled the world. There's this fantastic sense of layers upon layers of history, bound up in architecture, ruins, cultural memory, and family tales. That's what gives Tolkien's world so much depth: he doesn't just populate it with interesting folk and cool places. He also gives each of these peoples their own memories, tales, and history.