The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again
by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Home Quotes in The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with thing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort. (1.1)
The subtitle of The Hobbit is "There and Back Again," and this first chapter describes what Bilbo is so eager to get back to while he's on his way "there." The extreme coziness of Bilbo's hobbit-hole makes it an absolute symbol of familiarity and home. The strength of this opening image of home serves to balance richer, but also colder homes we see later, especially Thorin's home under the Lonely Mountain.
The Bagginses had lived in the neighbourhood of The Hill for time out of mind, and people considered them very respectable, not only because most of them were rich, but also because they never had any adventures or did anything unexpected: you could tell what a Baggins would say on any question without the bother of asking him. This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. He may have lost the neighbours' respect, but he gained – well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end. (1.3)
So home isn't just a place, it's also a way of behaving: to be at home means "never [... to have] any adventures or [do] anything unexpected." How does Bilbo's return from the wilds of the Lonely Mountain change both his behavior and his home?
"To think it will soon be June," grumbled Bilbo, as he splashed along behind the others in a very muddy track. It was after tea-time; it was pouring with rain, and had been all day; his hood was dripping into his eyes, his cloak was full of water; the pony was tired and stumbled on stones; the others were too grumpy. "And I'm sure the rain has got into the dry clothes and into the food-bags," thought Bilbo. "Bother burgling and everything to do with it! I wish I was at home in my nice hole by the fire, with the kettle just beginning to sing!" It was not the last time that he wished that! (2.24)
For much of Bilbo's journey, home seems to exist primarily as an idea to taunt him: he didn't seem truly eager to leave it in the first place, and now all he wants is to be "at home in [his] nice hole by the fire, with the kettle just beginning to sing!" Why do you think Bilbo decided to accompany Thorin & Co. on their trip to the Lonely Mountain? Could he have turned them down?