Study Guide

The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again Chapter 9

By J.R.R. Tolkien

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Chapter 9

Barrels Out of Bond

  • Bilbo and the dwarves find themselves lost in the forest with no food or water.
  • So they immediately surrender when the Wood-elves surround them.
  • Bilbo slips on his ring and follows the dwarves to see where they are being led.
  • The elves bring the dwarves to the halls of the Elvenking.
  • The Elvenking informs the dwarves that, "It is a crime to wander in my realm without leave."
  • He throws the dwarves into his dungeon until they agree to tell the king why they have come to Mirkwood.
  • Bilbo sneaks around, "miserably burgling the same house day after day" (9.12).
  • Bilbo tracks down all of the dwarves' cells, and he manages to get word to Thorin that all of the other dwarves are alive and imprisoned by the elves.
  • Bilbo also finds out that there's another way out of the Elvenking's palace besides the front door.
  • There is also a water gate where the elves send their empty wine barrels down to Long Lake, to be filled up by the men of Lake-town (a.k.a. Esgaroth).
  • Bilbo waits until the night when there's a great feast and most of the servants are busy.
  • The chief of the guards gets drunk on party wine and Bilbo sneaks his keys.
  • Bilbo quietly brings all of the dwarves to the pier and packs them into individual wine barrels.
  • He then waits for the next morning, when the hung-over butler instructs his servants to toss the "empty" barrels into the river.
  • The barrels (containing one dwarf apiece) bob down the river to Lake-town.
  • Bilbo jumps onto the last barrel and bobs along with them.
  • Some elves on a raft fish the barrels onto a raft and row them downstream.

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