Have you recovered from the exam yet? Are your hands still cramped? You might be interested to know that the exams I've graded thus far have been quite good and so, while your hands might still be twisted into some sort of claw shape, your grades are just fine.
For tonight's blog, I'd like us to think about hobbits. In The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf tells Frodo, "[i]t would be a greivous blow to the world, if the Dark Power overcame the Shire; if all your kind, jolly, stupid Bolgers, Hornblowers, Boffins, Bracegirdles, and the rest, not to mention the ridiculous Bagginses, became enslaved." Gandalf seems to be acknowledging that hobbits serve an important role in Middle Earth; just what that role is, though, is a bit unclear.
In the previous post, I suggested that one of the roles for hobbits (as narrative devices) in telling stories about Middle Earth is to provide a grounding for our sense of humanity. But do hobbits merely serve a narrative purpose in the stories of Middle Earth? How or why are they important to Middle Earth, as Gandalf indicates? Bilbo certainly develops some more heroic qualities as the novel progresses, but he would be hopelessly out of place in a lineup of heroes which included Fingolfin or Turin or Finrod or Beren. In a world inhabited by Elves and Numenoreans, and filled with orcs and dragons and trolls and giant spiders, where do hobbits fit in?