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I’m working on a re-read of The Hobbit, and I’m reminded that it was not the Baggins side of Bilbo that spurred him on toward adventure. It was his mother’s side: Belladonna Took. Upon first meeting the wizard, the Baggins side wanted to leisurely sit with Gandalf outside and smoke all day.
Gandalf meant to wake up Bilbo’s Took side.
There is nothing particularly wrong with either side, of course. On most days, I wish I could be a Baggins, sitting around reading, eating, smoking a pipe. (Yes, smoking a pipe. Sorry.) But you know if you’re familiar with Tolkien, you know you’re not allowed to ignore the Fallen world in which we live. Before Bilbo knows it, he’s got 13 dwarves and a wizard in his home telling a tale of a dragon who destroyed and killed and pillaged and plundered.
The peace of the Shire is a wonderful thing, but ultimately an illusion. Or perhaps better: a glimpse of our final peace, but not something that can be enjoyed uninterrupted in this fallen world.
Fairy stories often do to us exactly what Gandalf did with Bilbo: they awaken in us a desire for adventure, for quest, for danger, for carrying swords and righting wrongs and rescuing people in distress. So, questions for discussion:
Are you inclined more toward your Took side or Baggins side?
If you’re a Baggins, what brings out your adventurous Took side?
If you’re a Took, where do you find the peace of the Shire in the midst of your adventures?