Study Guide

The Fellowship of the Ring Book 1, Chapter 7

By J.R.R. Tolkien

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Book 1, Chapter 7

In the House of Tom Bombadil

  • There is a woman sitting in a chair facing the door; she is surrounded by water lilies and flag lilies, and her dress is "green, green as young reeds, shot with silver like beads of dew" (1.7.2).
  • She welcomes them and introduces herself as Goldberry, daughter of the River.
  • Frodo asks Goldberry who Tom Bombadil is, exactly.
  • She answers that he is the Master of wood, water, and hill – not the owner, but the Master.
  • Tom Bombadil comes in, having fed the Hobbits' ponies.
  • And he and Goldberry give the Hobbits food and water and a place to rest.
  • He tells them they were lucky: he was only walking past Old Man Willow on a special errand to gather water-lilies for Goldberry, and he would not otherwise have found them.
  • Frodo asks Tom Bombadil who Old Man Willow is, but Merry and Pippin don't want to hear that story just before they go to sleep. They would just be asking for a nightmare.
  • At night, Frodo dreams of a high white tower and Black Riders galloping out on the wind.
  • Pippin dreams of the "horrible dry creaking" voice inside the willow (1.7.29).
  • Merry dreams of drowning.
  • And Sam sleeps like a log. Naturally.
  • They wake up the next morning feeling refreshed.
  • The forest is hidden under a thick fog.
  • Both Tom and Goldberry set out of the house, but they leave the Hobbits a plentiful breakfast.
  • The day is rainy, so the Hobbits stay inside. They can hear the sound of Goldberry singing above the rain, and Frodo blesses the weather "because it delayed them from departing" (1.7.37).
  • Tom Bombadil returns and entertains the Hobbits with stories of the Old Forest.
  • He also tells the Hobbits about the Barrow-downs, which are burial mounds for ancient warriors.
  • They are said to be haunted by Barrow-wights – ghosts.
  • Tom Bombadil tells Frodo that he is the Eldest – he was there before Sauron, before the Elves, before the First Age. Top dog.
  • Goldberry returns, and they have dinner.
  • Tom asks Frodo a series of pressing questions. It turns out that he knew of Frodo from Gildor and the Elves, and so Frodo winds up spilling his guts about the Ring. That didn't take much convincing...
  • Tom Bombadil asks to see the Ring and for some reason, Frodo willingly takes the Ring out and hands it to Tom Bombadil.
  • Tom slips it on but doesn't turn invisible. Hmm. He gives it back to Frodo who puts it on, as though testing whether or not it is still his Ring.
  • Sure enough, it works. He becomes invisible.
  • Tom laughs at Frodo: "Old Tom Bombadil's not as blind as that yet" (1.7.61). Tom can see Frodo, despite the Ring. Interesting.
  • Tom teaches the Hobbits a special song to sing if they get into trouble again in the Old Forest.
  • Then he sends them all off to bed.

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