Ch. 11 – Preparations


POV – Bilbo/Frodo (In each of the next five chapters, the POV starts with Bilbo and shifts back to Frodo.)

In which Bilbo ponders tradition and Frodo ponders obedience.


So, if the last chapter was about the loss of history, what do hobbits remember of their cultural past? Less with each generation.

Wintermark is a hint of a less patriarchal time in hobbit society, but also of a substantially less settled one. It is the one of the only ceremonies where a deity/divine power is invoked, and that deity is a female fertility goddess – the Delver. I see it as an elision of Varda and Yavanna, and she is responsible for fecundity and light. During the social decimation of the Fell Winter, as I speculated in Writing a Green Sun, there would probably have been a few decades when women’s power increased and when social norms surrounding legitimacy would have been relaxed for the purposes of increasing the number of births.

We’re also going to get to see Frodo and Bilbo dealing with their relatives in a less regulated situation than usual. Bilbo is dealing with Shire politics and personal relationships that go back almost a century, while Frodo struggles to break away from the abused position forced on him as he entered puberty.


2 thoughts on “Ch. 11 – Preparations”

  1. I always thought Wintermark was a powerful section in this book. Rory killing the goat with his bare hands, the firelight and the bloody marks. Very… surprising, from Hobbits, and therefore all the more fascinating? But then, Bilbo has always had a touch of strength and violence hiding under the genteel covering. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised.

  2. Hi Jon,

    Glad you like it! It is meant to be a view into a past that the hobbits themselves barely remember. They were nomads and pastoralists for much of their history prior to settling in the Shire. The “Fallohide” strain is noted for being hunters & herdsmen in preference to farming. So, how would that translate? Wintermark is the border between their nomadic past and their settled present, when the lived on slaughter, roamed widely, and admired valor. At the same time, they had their children to defend, and a desire to burrow and be safe. Their “goddess” is the Delver (Yavanna) who provides bounty and fertility, but also Nessa, a Diana figure who is goddess of the hunt.

    It’s a time when the women’s authority over fertility is openly acknowledged, and the men have to woo and supplicate to get what they want. They provide, they contest, they show their strength – then the women pick.

    But, yes, hobbits are much tougher and aggressive than they seem at first glance.


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