The Hobbit – Chapter XIX – The Last Stage

Here we are at the final chapter.  It’s a short chapter, but it is broken into three parts.  First, Bilbo and Gandalf go to Rivendell and spend about a week with the elves.  Bilbo (and Tolkien) love elves, so they spend more time here than might be expected.  It’s all very pleasant and relaxing, but not much happens.  Second, Bilbo arrives home.  When he arrives, there is an auction of all of his possessions taking place.  Apparently, he was declared dead after being missing without explanation for more than a year.  It makes sense and it’s a good comic section.  Bilbo is a bit upset, especially at his relatives, the Sacksville-Baggins, who were especially greedy.  But, compared to what he’s been through, this is nothing, so he sets things straight.  It takes a little time and a little money, of which he now has plenty, but it all gets done.  Finally, we get a little coda.  This is the happily ever after part.  Bilbo lives a very long, comfortable life.  He is generous with his money.  He is adored by his nieces and nephews.  And he has frequent visits from elves and the occasional dwarf.

The funny thing about the coda is how well it sets up The Lord of the Rings.  I don’t know if this is one of the chapters that Tolkien revised upon completing the trilogy.  But the part about the nieces and nephews sets up his relationship with Frodo.  The part about his losing his reputation sets up the Long Expected Party (the first chapter of the trilogy).  Tolkien even makes a point of saying how Bilbo kept the ring a secret.  I feel like this must have been part of the revision.

I kind of wish I had kept count, I’m curious how many times I’ve read this book.  Once again, though, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I talked about my one big complaint during that chapter, but as big a mistake as it is, the rest of the book more than makes up for it.  Bilbo is just such a great character.  The adventures are thrilling.  The world is huge.  It never gets old.  I don’t know if anyone actually read all nineteen entries, but I’m glad I documented the experience.  It’ll let me go back and see if anything has changed the next time I read it.

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