Book Notes Chapter 8 Notes from The Hobbit

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The Hobbit Chapter 8

They walk single file into the tunnel the path makes in the dark trees. As they get used to the darkness, they can make out black squirrels moving through the underbrush and thick cobwebs stretching from tree to tree. Before long, they hate the forest as much as they hated the goblins. The stillness of the place is suffocating. At night it is pitch dark and they all huddle together, taking turns at the watch. During the night, Bilbo can only see other eyes staring back at him. When they light a fire, it is worse because thousands of black moths appear and even more eyes pop up in the shadows. The days pass by, and before long they begin to worry that their food is going to run out. Their water runs out; they had been warned by Beorn not to drink any water in the forest. There is a stream in the middle that makes anyone who drinks from it fall asleep with forgetfulness.

They arrive at the black stream and find there is no bridge across it. There is a boat on the other side. The stream is twelve yards wide and no one wants to ford it. Bilbo doesn't think that the boat is tied, so they have Fili, who has the best sight of the dwarves, throw a hook on the end of a rope after it. On the third try he makes it but the boat won't pull easily. A couple of the dwarves pull, and eventually it comes rushing towards them and they fall back. The boat had been tied to the other side, but they had broken its rope. They argue about who will go across first, but then realize that there are no oars. Fili throws the rope across again, and gets the hook caught in a tree. They use this to pull themselves across. As Bombur, the last one to cross (because he is so fat), nears the shore, a great deer jumps over the stream. Thorin quickly grabs a bow and arrow and wounds the deer. Before anyone can pursue it, however, they realize that Bombur has fallen in the water. They pull him out and he is fast asleep. They wait some time, but he does not wake up. Just as they are about to leave, a white deer appears and Thorin yells at his men as they waste their last arrows shooting in vain.

They must carry Bombur, which adds to the difficulty of the journey. After traveling four days from the stream, the forest begins to change. Bombur still doesn't wake, and they all grow tired. Repeatedly, they hear singing and laughing around them. Thorin thinks that Bilbo should climb to the top of the tree and see if he can see any end to the forest. Bilbo reluctantly climbs up a tree and breaks through the canopy to the bright light of the sun. He sees thousands of butterflies and looks at "the black emperors for a long time and enjoyed the feel of the breeze in his hair and on his face." Chapter 8, pg. 148. He cannot see the end of the forest because they are in a valley. The truth is that they are near the end of this part of their journey. When Bilbo gets down, he tells the dwarves that he could see only trees in every direction.

It begins to rain and Bombur wakes up. He is very upset because he says he was having a dream about an elf king and a feast. The food supplies are gone and their water skins are empty. They keep traveling, but after some time, Bombur falls to the ground and refuses to budge. They decide to sleep. Balin keeps seeing a flickering through the woods. They all want to leave the path to find out what is going on. They argue and decide that everyone should go together. They find a clearing filled with elves feasting on meats and other things, but as soon as they step into the clearing, everything disappears. They are lost in the darkness. After a while, Dori sees the lights again, and Thorin sends Bilbo ahead to investigate. When he gets to the clearing, the same thing happens, and Bilbo is separated from his companions. They find him sleeping on the ground. He tells them that he was dreaming of dinner. Later, the lights appear yet again and they cannot resist approaching them. There is the great feast that Bombur described from his dream. Thorin steps out and it disappears. The dwarves run around blindly, and Bilbo calls out his comrades' names as their cries fade into the darkness. He is miserable, but decides to wait until morning to continue searching. He is deep in thought when he feels a sticky string against his arm. He realizes that he is tied up to the waist in spider web under the legs of a giant spider. He beats it away with his hands and then cuts himself free. He pierces the spider with his sword and then passes out. He wakes up a little later.

"Somehow the killing of a giant spider, all alone by himself in the dark without the help of a wizard or the dwarves or anyone else, made a great difference to Mr. Baggins. He felt a different person, and much fiercer and bolder in spite of an empty stomach as he wiped his sword on the grass and put it back into its sheath." Chapter 8, pg. 155

He names the sword 'Sting' and sets off to explore, regretting the fact that they had left the path to begin with. He guesses at the direction of the cries he heard the night before. He finds a great number of spiders in the center of a myriad of webs. The dwarves are hanging upside down, wrapped in webs. The spiders are discussing how they will eat their prey. Bilbo knows that he has to do something, so he begins to throw stones at the spiders near the dwarves. He kills a couple of them. They cannot see him because he put the invisible ring on, and he leads the spiders away from the dwarves by yelling at them and mocking them. He keeps doing this, but the spiders start to make an enclosing fence with webbing. He cuts down Fili and they start to cut down the other dwarves, but they are all groggy with spider poison. The spiders begin to return and the dwarves draw their weapons. They fight off many spiders, but there are just too many of them. Bilbo decides to let the dwarves in on the secret of the ring. He had taken it off before he released Fili, and now he tells them that he is going to disappear and lead the spiders away. In the commotion it is hard to relay this information, but he manages to get it across. He leads many of the spiders away, and then returns to the dwarves. As the dwarves move away from the spider clearing, more of the beasts come after them. Bilbo doubles back and attacks the spiders from behind. Eventually the spiders give up and turn back.

The group gets to a greener clearing and rest. They all want to hear more about the ring and Balin insists that he tell the whole Gollum story again. They want to know where they are and they look to Bilbo for leadership. They are thankful for his wits and good luck. There is nothing to eat, and Balin mutters to himself long into the night. In the middle of their sleep, Dwalin wakes and wonders aloud where Thorin is. They realized that they have not seen him since before the spiders captured them. "They wondered what evil fate had befallen him, magic or dark monsters; and shuddered as they lay lost in the forest." Chapter 8, pg. 166. They fall into an uncomfortable sleep.

After the light went out at the last banquet scene, Thorin had been captured by wood-elves who were feasting there. Wood-elves do not like strangers, especially dwarves, and are more dangerous than other elves. They dwell at the edge of deep forests. Their king lives in a great cave in the woods and most of his subjects live near him. They took Thorin to the king's dungeon. When Thorin woke, the king asked him why his friends tried to attack the feast three times. Thorin told him they were not trying to attack it. The king wanted to know why they were trying to travel through Mirkwood. When Thorin told him that they are going to visit relatives, he doesn't believe him. Thorin was sent back to the dungeon until he would be willing to tell the King the truth. In his cell he thinks only of his companions.

Topic Tracking: Luck 4
Topic Tracking: Metamorphosis 6

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