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The Hobbit Literature Unit Part I:
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien is a great book to introduce the fantasy genre. The book is packed with high-interest, page turning material. There are also morals interlaced with adventure and consequences throughout.
Chapters 1 - 4
As with many classics, there are several versions of The Hobbit on the market. I have noticed that recently some abridged versions have been appearing for younger readers. This unit, however, is based on the unabridged version although you could certainly take some of the activities and use them with the young reader versions.
The complete literature unit:
The Hobbit: Introduction to the Unit
The Hobbit: Chapters 1-4
The Hobbit: Chapters 5-9 - COMING SOON
The Hobbit: Chapters 10-14 - COMING SOON
The Hobbit: Chapters 15-19 - COMING SOON
The Hobbit is not in the public domain yet (meaning that it is not available in the form of a free download), so you will need to purchase a copy of the book for this unit.
In addition to the brief chapter descriptions, I have included links to off-site chapters summaries for each chapter. Some of them are quite long and detailed, so long and detailed in fact that some students try to use them to get out of reading the actual book. I will sometimes use the chapter summaries to refresh memory, but only after I have made certain that the student actually read the text itself.
Chapter 1 Summary
[From Randomhouse] We are introduced to hobbits and to Bilbo Baggins, a stay-at-home, utterly respectable hobbit with a secret desire for adventure. Bilbo receives a visit from Gandalf the wizard. The next Wednesday Gandalf returns for tea, bringing with him a party of thirteen dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield. Despite misgivings on both sides, on Gandalf's recommendation the dwarves hire Bilbo as Burglar on an expedition to the Lonely Mountain, where they plan to recover their ancestral treasure from the dragon Smaug.
Chapter 2 Summary
[From Randomhouse]Thorin and Company set off on their expedition, and Bilbo joins them. At first things go well, but on the first rainy night they seek shelter and blunder into three trolls. Bilbo and the dwarves are captured by the trolls, but Gandalf outwits them and they turn to stone at daybreak. The expedition plunders the trolls' hoard. Gandalf and Thorin take swords, Bilbo, takes a small knife, and they bury the trolls' gold.
Chapter 3 Summary
[From Randomhouse] The expedition comes to Rivendell, where Elrond and his elves live in the Last Homely House. Elrond explains Thror's Map to the dwarves and identifies Gandalf's and Thorin's swords as the famous blades Orcrist and Glamdring, made by elves for the ancient goblin wars.
Chapter 4 Summary
[From Randomhouse] As they cross the Misty Mountains, a storm drives the expedition into a cave, where they are attacked by goblins. Bilbo and the dwarves are captured and driven into the goblins' underground halls. There Gandalf rescues them and slays the Great Goblin, but as they flee from the goblins Bilbo is knocked unconscious.
For each chapter you will see a list of words to use, usually in order of appearance in the chapter. I've also included a link to a puzzle and/or worksheet that you can use with each list of vocabulary words. If you are looking for interesting ways to use vocabuarly in your literature unit you may want to read Implementing Literature in a Unit Study where you will find several suggestions available.
Chapter 1 Vocabulary Words:
Hobbit Vocabulary Worksheet #1
Chapter 2 Vocabulary Words:
Hobbit Vocabulary Worksheet #2
Chapter 3 Vocabulary Words:
Hobbit Vocabulary Worksheet #3
Chapter 4 Vocabulary Words:
Hobbit Vocabulary Worksheet #4
Comprehension Questions for The Hobbit.
The comprehension questions below are divided up by chapter and are designed to be answered after the chapter has been read. Additional activities for chapters one through four appear in the section titled Additional Activities below.
Chapter 1 Comprehension Questions:
1. What is Gandalf's reputation?
2. What kind of mark does Gandalf put on Bilbo's door?
3. How many dwarves come to tea?
4. Why aren't the dwarves in possession of their treasure?
5. How does the dwarves' music affect Bilbo?
6. What does Thorin wear to distinguish himself from the other dwarves?
7. What two things does Gandalf give Thorin?
8. How did the dwarves lose their treasure and kingdom?
9. What about adventures awakens Bilbo's "Tookish" side? What causes his "Baggins" side to reemerge? Is the Baggins side timid or practical? Is the Tookish side heroic, curious or proud?
10. Name some of the characteristics of dwarves that we have seen thus far in chapter one.
11. In your own words, tell the important events of this chapters in the sequence that they happened.
12. What did Gandalf claim to be looking for when he arrived on Bilbo's doorstep?
13. What does Gandalf threaten to do if the assembled dwarves refuse to accept his choice of Bilbo Baggins as the fourteenth man for their expedition?
14. Why is An Unexpected Party a good title for chapter one?
15. What were in the various ways that Bilbo used the word phrase "good morning"?
Chapter 2 Comprehension Questions:
1. What are the terms of Bilbo's contract?
2. How does Bilbo know that the three people are trolls?
3. How is Bilbo caught?
4. How does Gandalf rescue Bilbo and the dwarves?
5. What do they take from the trolls' hoard?
6. Why is it important that Gandalf is not present when the expedition meets the trolls?
7. Sometimes in literature a change of clothing is symbolic of a new role. What do you thing Bilbo's change of apparel might mean?
8. How does life on the trail differ from the life that Bilbo is used to in the Shire?
9. How does the speech of the dwarves and the speech of the trolls differ?
10. Of the various characters that you have met thus far, consider whether or not their names fit their descriptions. Give a brief explanation of why you do or do not feel this way.
11. What indication is there in the note left by Thorin and Company that the adventure or quest may prove to be perilous for Bilbo?
12. Who do the dwarves notice has gone missing?
13. Describe what Bilbo Baggins sees as he approaches the red light.
14. Explain the humour in the expression, "I . . . cook better than I cook."
15. Explain what happens to the dwarves as they come to Bilbo's aid.
16. How does Gandalf use his powers on Bert and Tom and William?
17. How did Gandalf finally manage to open the big stone door leading to the trolls' cave?
18. What did Gandalf and Thorin each take from the cave?
Chapter 3 Comprehension Questions:
1. Why is Rivendell hard to find?
2. When is Durin's Day?
3. What is the difference between the way Bilbo and the dwarves react to Rivendell? How does Elrond feel about the expedition, and what does he say about the dwarves' love of gold and the wickedness of dragons? What values are important to the elves?
4. Who is Elrond? What is the effect of giving a detailed history of a minor character
5. An elf gives the company a choice of singing or eating. How do their reactions fit their characters? What would you have done and why?
6. What does Elrond think of the dwarves? Why would you say to him about this?
7. How does the stop in Rivendell help the dwarves move toward attaining their goal?
8. According to Gandalf, what lay hidden somewhere not too far ahead of the travellers?
9. What are moon letters?
10. Compare and contrast (find out how they are similar and different) Gandalf and Elrond.
11. Based on the elves' poem, how would you describe them?
12. What month is the company travelling in?
13. The dwarves don't seem to care for the elves very much. Why? On the other hand Bilbo seems to enjoy their company. Why?
14. Briefly describe the bridge that appears in this chapter.
Chapter 4 Comprehension Questions:
1. Why does the expedition take shelter in the cave?
2. Why isn't Gandalf captured?
3. What do goblins usually do with their prisoners?
4. How does Gandalf rescue Bilbo and the dwarves?
5. Explain how the dwarves and the hobbit were able to find their way up the treacherous mountain.
6. What did Tolkien mean by a thunder-battle?
7. Describe what the stone-giants were doing.
8. What indication is there that the cave might not be safe?
9. Summarize Bilbo's dream that evening.
10. Why was it fortunate that Bilbo had accompanied the dwarves into the cave?
11. What happened when the crack in the wall snapped shut?
12. Explain how the horses, ponies and donkeys all disappeared.
13. Why were the Great Goblin and many of his soldiers so upset when they saw Thorin's sword?
14. Who came to the rescue of the dwarves and what weapon did they use?
15. What happens to Bilbo at the end of this chapter?
Additional Activities for The Hobbit:
Remember to check the unit introduction for some general activities that you can work on while reading The Hobbit.
1. What does the word hobbit make you think of? (The possibilities include rabbit, hobby, Babbit, habit and hob. The word is probably best seen as a blend of rabbit and hob, an obsolete British word meaning "a rustic, peasant" or "sprite, elf.") How does Bilbo resemble a rabbit in chapter one? When you finish the book, review your answer and ask yourself if he still reminds you of one.
2. Essay Question: What is an adventure? Is it something that happens, or is it the way we react to what happens? Can we live without adventures?
3. Create a "What I know, What I think I know, What I want to know" chart about dragons. As you read The Hobbit see if you can add or move around entries in your chart. Then compare this information to the character of Smaug.
4. Essay Question: The trolls are evil, bestial, and disgusting. But do they seem mostly human or nonhuman?
5. What does Tolkien tell us about goblins? (Their sounds and actions, but nothing about their appearance except that they have hands, heads, teeth and flat feet.) Because he does not describe their appearance, we must use our imaginations, and this involves us more actively in the fantasy. Discuss what you think goblins look like, and what in the book gives you that idea. [--discussion question suggested by Randomhouse]
6. As you read through each chapter make a list of what is realistic or possible in our world and what is imaginary or impossible in our world.
7. Most stories have a plot, a design. A plot can usually be divided into five main parts: exposition, complication, crisis, falling action, and resolution. As you read The Hobbit use the Plot Worksheet to determine where each chapter falls in the plot.
8. The setting of an event plays an important role in how a reader "sees" actions in the story. The setting plays a large part in setting the "mood" of the narrative. Some parts of the settin that can effect the mood are time of day, season, physical surroundings, weather, etc. Make a list of at least one setting in each chapter and tell how it affects the mood of that chapter.
9. One of the activities for the unit introduction was to keep a folder of drawings of characters. If you chose to do this activity, be sure to add include Gandalf, Bilbo, at least one of the dwarves, and at least one of the trolls to your folder.
10. List the instruments the dwarves used to accompany their songs in chapter one. This is not the only place in the first four chapters where music is important. What is another place? How does the music affect the mood of these two parts of the story?
11. Research trolls, dwarves, and wizards and how they appear most often in folklore and fiction. Are the trolls, dwarves, and wizard that appears in The Hobbit typical of such creatures that appear in other pieces of fiction? If not, how do they differ?
12. Using the Rune Worksheet 1 make a secret message to share with someone else.
13. Tolkien has the trolls speaking with a Cockney accent. Research Cockney Rhyming Slang and give some examples. Discuss why rhyming slang was used and invent some of your own rhyming slang.
14. Write an essay comparing and contrasting elves and trolls.
15. Point of view is a very important part of writing. Look for the following types of passages in the story thus far:
(a) Find three passages that ahve the second person point of view and describe what you think is the narrator's tone toward the reader.
(b) Find a passage that shows the narrator's access to Bilbo's inner thoughts and feelings.
(c) Find a passage that shows the narragtor's access to Gollumn's inner thoughts and feelings.
16. After reading the first four chapters of The Hobbit look back at the predictions you made from the activity in the unit introduction. Which of those predictions have come true? Make predictions for the remainder of the book based on what you have now read.
17. After reading the first four chapters, what is your favorite moment of the story thus far? Explain why.
18. A limerick is a light, fun verse of five lines. Develop your own limerick about any part of Bilbo's adventure thus far.
19. Foreshadowing is a literary device that suggests something is to come later by giving hints and clues. J.R.R. Tolkien takes a great deal of time to describe the difference between a thunderstorm and a thunder battle. Why do you think he did this?
Below I've included links to other on-line ideas to use with this unit. More specific links will be included in the chapter sections of the unit.
Dwarf Runes in The Hobbit: http://ring-lord.tripod.com/runes/hobbit.htm
Hobbit Rune Generator: http://derhobbit-film.de/rune_generator.shtml
Replica of Middle Earth Map: http://www.indyprops.com/pp-hobmap.htm [Note: this map is being sold by a non-EFS vendor. EFS is in no way connected to it, however I thought it was interesting enough to include in these links.]
Runes document: http://greenbooks.theonering.net/ostadan/files/writing.pdf [Note: large, 13 page, .pdf document on the runes used in Tolkien's books]
Elves of Middle Earth: http://www.middleearthelves.com/
Middle Earth: http://www.freewebs.com/imaladrisevenstar/
Biographies of the Elves of Middle Earth: http://www.tuckborough.net/elves.html
Who Ate What in Middle Earth: http://www.hobbitfood.republika.pl/ethnic.htm
Additional areas of study: orienteering, runes, the mythology of fantastical creatures (i.e., trolls, elves, etc.).
You may wish to incorporate a cooking lesson into this unit by making tea scones, seed cakes, etc. Some simple recipes for these items are available on the Hobbit Recipes hand out.
Additional activites for The Hobbit with a distinctly Christian Worldview are available by clicking here.
Modeling the Classics
Integrated Language Arts Lessons from The Hobbit