70 pages 2 hours read

J. R. R. Tolkien

The Hobbit

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 1937

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The Importance of Friendship and Companionship

At the start of the novel, the 15 members who make most of the journey—Gandalf, Bilbo, Thorin, and the other 12 dwarves—are not exactly “fast friends.” In fact, the group are relative strangers with currents of resentment and distrust, as Bilbo wrestles with feeling manipulated into joining the mission, and the dwarves are skeptical of Bilbo’s usefulness.

The group swiftly develop bonds of mutual affection and love as they overcome numerous obstacles and, on several occasions, face the prospect of death. Even when Thorin and Bilbo have a severe falling out over Bilbo’s theft of the Arkenstone, their bond proves ultimately unbreakable as Thorin exhausts the last of his strength to mend the bonds with his diminutive companion: ”Since I leave now all gold and silver, and go where it is of little worth, I wish to part in friendship from you” (237).

Even more prominent than deliberate and explicit friendship is the reality of simple companionship; even when the individual relationships among the group are strained or pushed to their limit by impatience, confusion, or pride, their companionship is a constant to which they can refer. In fact, this is how the group is first referred to in Thorin’s note to Bilbo: “Thorin and Company to Burglar Bilbo greeting!” (28).