Study Guide

The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again Chapter 2

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Chapter 2

Roast Mutton

  • Bilbo oversleeps the next morning and finds that the dwarves have left by the time he gets out of bed.
  • He's both relieved and disappointed – no more adventures for him!
  • But then Gandalf turns up and points out a note Bilbo missed.
  • The note gives Bilbo Thorin's "grateful acceptance" for his offer of "professional assistance" (2.8).
  • Bilbo rushes to meet Thorin & Co. at a local inn at 11:00. And they're off to steal Smaug's treasure!
  • As Bilbo and the dwarves ride off on their ponies, they hit a patch of bad weather.
  • Bilbo heartily misses home. This adventure business is cold, wet, and uncomfortable!
  • One night, the dwarves are feeling thoroughly bad-tempered and everyone is damp.
  • Gandalf has also mysteriously disappeared.
  • They notice a light flickering in the forest, and they send their burglar out to investigate.
  • Bilbo finds three giant trolls sitting and roasting meat over the fire.
  • The trolls are named Bert, Tom, and William.
  • Bilbo wants to show the dwarves that he's worth something, so he tries to pick William's pocket.
  • But William has a magic wallet that speaks up when Bilbo attempts to steals it.
  • So the trolls capture Bilbo.
  • They aren't hungry, though, so they don't eat him right away.
  • They fall to arguing about what they should do with Bilbo.
  • Of course, just then, two of the dwarves – Bifur and Bofur – come to the fire to check out what's going on.
  • The trolls catch the two dwarves – and every dwarf who comes after them – in sacks.
  • Bilbo takes advantage of the ruckus to get clear of the trolls.
  • So, by the end, all the dwarves are tied up in sacks and Bilbo is crouching in the forest shadows wondering what to do.
  • The trolls are "arguing whether they should roast them slowly, or mince them fine and boil them, or just sit on them one by one and squash them into jelly" (2.75) – not an ideal situation for the dwarves, to be sure.
  • As the trolls argue, a mysterious voice keeps egging them on.
  • Sometimes it sounds like William and sometimes it sounds like Tom. Who could it be?!
  • The voice finally tells the trolls, "Dawn take you all, and be stone to you!" (2.101).
  • It's Gandalf!
  • He got back to the party just in time to keep the trolls arguing until the sun came up.
  • So Gandalf frees the dwarves from their sacks and they all go to the trolls' cave.
  • Inside the cave is lots of treasure, which they bury near the road for later.
  • Gandalf and Thorin pick up two beautiful swords, and Bilbo takes a knife of the same make.
  • All the dwarves grab the trolls' bread and cheese and beer for the road.
  • Gandalf tells the dwarves and Bilbo that they should head to Rivendell, the house of Elrond.

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