Reader: The Hobbit. Chapter 2 “Roast Mutton”

The Hobbit Book CoverSummary Points

  • Dwarves may be good with household chores, but when in a hurry they still leave a mess.

  • Despite the apparent unsuitability, in the Dwarves’ eyes, of Bilbo to questing, he left the Shire with the Company and Gandalf (who made sure Bilbo got his nudge out the door, with the generous notice of ten minutes before the appointed quest meet at ten o’clock in the morning, in the Green Dragon).
  • Gandalf had already developed his partiality to white horses, catching up on one to the departing Company. Once again demonstrating his knack for project management and general talent for saving the day, he delivered a lot of pocket-handkerchiefs, and Bilbo’s pipe and tobacco – necessities of the Baggins’ travel kit.
  • Also on display was Gandalf’s knack for going off on tangents, leaving his companions in a pickle, and turning up in the nick of time.
    • He also had a gift of mimicry.
  • It takes more than one dwarf to light a fire.
  • The Company reached the Lone-lands in mate May though the narrative did not give a sense of so much time passing since the unexpected party in late April, until Bilbo’s thought about it being nearly June the day they met the trolls.
  • Troll encounter.
    • Bilbo’s probation as burglar-in-residence got off to a potential career-ending start.
    • Anti-burglary talking purses and novice burglars are not a good combination.
    • Dwarves-in-a-pinch have a tendency for herd-mentality.
    • Gandalf saved the day, again.
    • But Bilbo’s sharp eyes procured the key to the trolls’ cave, and therefore the lifer-swords Gandalf, and Thorin wore, and the small knife for himself.


Key Notes/Quotes

“Silly time to go practising pinching and pocket-picking,” said Bombur, “when what we wanted was fire and food!”

Bombur’s astute observation, probably more to the point about hobbits than he realised.


…. There were lots of clothes, too, hanging on the walls—too small for trolls, I am afraid they belonged to victims—and among them were several swords of various makes, shapes, and sizes. Two caught their eyes particularly, because of their beautiful scabbards and jewelled hilts.

Gandalf and Thorin each took one of these; and Bilbo took a knife in a leather sheath. It would have made only a tiny pocket-knife for a troll, but it was as good as a short sword for the hobbit.

The sense of aesthetic for beautiful things is universal. It is hard to think the victims were the original owners of the swords, but then how did the victims came by the swords?

Dwarves are as equal opportunistic as the next race when it comes to taking possession beautiful things, never mind eons of racial discord.


“Where did you go to, if I may ask?” said Thorin to Gandalf as they rode along.

“To look ahead,” said he.

“And what brought you back in the nick of time?”

“Looking behind,” said he.

“Exactly!” said Thorin; “but could you be more plain?”

“I went on to spy out our road. It will soon become dangerous and difficult. Also I was anxious about replenishing our small stock of provisions. I had not gone very far, however, when I met a couple of friends of mine from Rivendell.”

“Where’s that?” asked Bilbo.

“Don’t interrupt!” said Gandalf.

Cryptic answers and general testiness are clearly Gandalf hallmarks that go way back.



Gandalf is already exhibiting his tendency to both leave his friends in a pinch, and save them at the last minute.

Who prowls the Lone-lands and keep it safe for travellers?  – The answer, as we know, will only be revealed in LotR.

Why would Trolls need purses and why talking purses? How were these procured? Why had no one taken care of the problem before? It seemed like the threesome had set up shop for a fairly long time, given the impressive horde in their cave. Or had they simply inherited the lot when they took over management of the establishment? The most interesting plot detail still remains the contents of the trolls’ cave, and the owners/victims from whom they procured the treasures.


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