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The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again

The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again


by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again Chapter 11 Summary

How It All Goes Down

On the Doorstep

  • As Bilbo and the dwarves march onward to the Lonely Mountain, they reach "the Desolation of the Dragon" (11.4): there are no bushes or trees, and very little grass. It's all just exposed rock.
  • They scout around the mountain and find the ruins of the town of Dale.
  • They eventually find the little side door marked on Thorin's map.
  • But the door won't open, no matter how hard they shove.
  • So Bilbo and the dwarves settle down in front of the side door to think about what to do next.
  • It is an eerie place: "silence [reigns], broken by no bird or sound except that of the wind in the crannies of stone" (11.19).
  • Everyone feels more and more depressed about their chances of making this whole quest thing work.
  • Some of the dwarves start muttering about sending their burglar – poor Bilbo – in by the front door!
  • Luckily, before that kind of talk really takes off, they have a breakthrough.
  • On the last day of autumn, Bilbo is sitting on the doorstep at sunset. The moon is already in the sky.
  • Just then, a thrush suddenly starts to crack a snail shell against the side door.
  • Bilbo realizes that the bird is telling him something: it's Durin's Day, their only shot to use Thorin's father's key to open the side door to the Lonely Mountain.
  • He beckons everyone over.
  • A loud crack echoes: "A hole [appears] suddenly about three feet from the ground" (11.32).
  • Bilbo shouts, "The key! [...] The key that went with the map! Try it now while there is still time!" (11.36).
  • Thorin turns the key in this new keyhole, the dwarves all shove, and the side door opens into a "yawning mouth leading down and down" (11.38).

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