Episode 209 Summary

Tony Meade

Active Member

Avuncular awkwardness:
  • Given that Frodo puts on the mail shirt and sword right away, this points to this taking place on the morning of December 25th, just before the departure of the Company from Rivendell.
  • Note: This further emphasizes Tolkien’s choice of Christmas Day, in our terms, as the day of departure, as this scene is concerned with the giving of gifts and the expression of good wishes.
  • Since Frodo is also putting on his old traveling clothes, this also points to imminent departure.
  • It’s not clear if he’d been wearing his own spare clothes or those made for him by the Elves.
  • Frodo seems to hide Sting inside his trousers, which is similar to what Bilbo did in The Hobbit.
  • This may point to Sting being small enough to be concealed, and not truly a sword for a hobbit.
  • Bilbo putting the shirt on Frodo is an outgrowth of the juxtaposition of the plain hobbit family exchange, and the heroic tradition of gift-giving which conveys honor upon the gift-giver.
  • There is a hint of the ceremonial arming of heroes in Bilbo helping him with the shirt and sword.
  • Bilbo does understand the lineage of the gifts he is giving away, as does Frodo from Bilbo’s tales.
  • By drawing attention to the disguise, it also reemphasizes the hobbit nature of Bilbo and Frodo.
  • This doesn’t seem to be a concern for being seen as putting on airs, but rather the feeling of it being unnatural for themselves. Bilbo had himself been aware that he was receiving a kingly gift.
  • Bilbo had also been aware that he was still a hobbit, especially as a Baggins, which feels absurd.
  • Others had been aware of the contrasting and incongruent elements present in Bilbo as to this.
  • Bilbo reverses his own dichotomy with Frodo, in that he felt magnificent but looked absurd, he makes sure that Frodo looks hobbitish outside, while sharing in Frodo’s hidden magnificence.
  • Gandalf had also clapped Bilbo on the back, saying that there was more to Bilbo than met the eye, and Bilbo now seems to pass that idea along to Frodo after making if physically true first.
  • Note: Théoden will do a similar thing later when he gives Merry his own childhood armor. There is also a connection with the offer of armor from Saul to the young David before facing Goliath.
Bilbo gives his good luck:
  • While the wishing of good luck might seem like a throwaway expression, it has special significance coming from Bilbo, in the context to his experiences of “luck” in The Hobbit.
  • In the bestowing of all of his mementos of his past journey, including the Ring, Bilbo now includes his luck, which he regarded as a kind of possession during his adventures.
  • Though he can’t actually bestow luck itself, the expression itself makes important connections.
  • Why does Bilbo turn away? He’s trying to keep his composure and from showing his emotion.
  • The emotions that Bilbo seem to be feeling right now are very complex, and include concern for Frodo’s safety, as well as his morale, pity for Frodo’s burden, and possibly guilt over the Ring.
  • There might also be a sense of regret and loss at giving away his mementos and staying behind.
  • Seeing Frodo ready to go on a journey to help save the world would also make Bilbo feel proud.
  • There might also be a pride at how far Frodo has grown and matured since he left the Shire.
  • Frodo doesn’t seem to exhibit the same share of luck as Bilbo, and this may concern Bilbo, too.
  • It’s also possible that with his own experience of the Ring, and his new perspective of it that he’s gained since, he understands what the Ring may do to Frodo on the journey, more than Frodo.
For all Bilbo’s past kindnesses:
  • Frodo speaks as if this is the last time he will be able to speak privately before leaving Rivendell.
  • He breaks normal hobbit form in explicitly expressing his emotions in words to Bilbo. This may serve to reassure Bilbo that he doesn’t blame him for any of his burden and feels only gratitude.
  • Bilbo attempts to diffuse the emotional moment with a moment of hobbitry in the back slap.
  • Note: There doesn’t seem to be any moment in the story where Frodo employs hobbitry on Bilbo. This is congruent with a general character of being the most sincere and forthright hobbit.
  • Bilbo doesn’t rebuke Frodo for his show of emotion but shows acceptance and camaraderie.
  • The joke not only breaks the tension but demonstrates the effectiveness of the mithril shirt.
Hobbits must stick together:
  • Why especially Bagginses? They are not the last of the family, and though they were the heads of the family in turn for a long time, this has now passed to Lotho along with Bag End itself.
  • Otho and Lobelia had resented Frodo for becoming head of the family at 33 when he inherited.
  • This isn’t an objective claim, but more a continuation of the deflection of the previous moment.
  • What’s more important is the bond between the two of them, and that they are a family unit.
  • While using the phrase “as you can” Bilbo is expressing as much of his concern for Frodo as he can without breaking the light tone, and also reassures Frodo that he doesn’t owe him anything.
  • He references his scholarly and literary efforts in a way to give Frodo something else to do.
  • Breaking off at “if I am spared” allows him to turn away before emotions overwhelm him again.