The Hobbit Study Guide Chapters 11-15 Chapter 11: On the Doorstep

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The Hobbit Study Guide Chapters 11-15

Chapter 11: On the Doorstep

1. Why do the company’s spirits droop at the beginning of Chapter 11?



The landscape becomes gloomy and depressing. Dark birds follow them. Winter is coming and the signs of the old desolation brought by the dragon are evident everywhere.


2. What further discouragements do the adventurers face after they finally find the door?




Their tools are useless in opening the door.

3. How do the travelers get the door open at last?



An old thrush reminds Bilbo of Elrond’s advise about the thrush knocking. When the thrush trills, a piece of the rock on the door flakes off and a keyhole is revealed.


Chapter 12: Inside Information

4. Why does Tolkien describe Bilbo’s final steps down the tunnel as “the bravest thing he ever did”?



The fear of the unknown is often worse than the known. Bilbo knows he is about to encounter Smaug, but he doesn’t know what to expect. Still, he continues on into the tunnel.

5. How does Tolkein create suspense in his description of the dragon?


Tolkien reveals details about the dragon little by little. Drawing out the information about Smaug creates greater suspense than telling all information at one time.

6. What is Bilbo’s chief thought after he steals the cup? What does this thought reveal about his character?



He has been trying to prove his worth to the dwarves during the trip. He thinks, ”I’ve done it! This will show them!” Though he cares about his friends, his thoughts show that he has a desire to triumph over them and prove their thoughts of him are unfair.

7. What has Smaug guessed about Bilbo’s mission? What still puzzles the dragon?



Smaug knows that Bilbo is a thief working with the dwarves. Bilbo’s description of “barrel-rider” leads the dragon to believe that Lake-town is involved in the scheme. Smaug is still puzzled at what Bilbo is since Bilbo is wearing the ring and Smaug has never sniffed a hobbit before.

8. How does Smaug describe himself to Bilbo?



Smaug uses figurative language to convey the sense of power and terror he possesses.

9. What do Bilbo’s final words to Smaug show about his character development?

Success breeds confidence, and confidence sometimes leads to arrogance. Biblo’s final words are sassy causing an angry reaction from the dragon. The burn from the dragon serves as a reminder that there are dangers of overconfidence.

10. What is the Arkenstone?

The beautiful white gem at the heart of the Lonely Mountain. It is the treasure in Smaug’s lair that Thorin and the dwarves value highly.


Chapter 13: Not at Home

11. What plan does Bilbo propose when the dwarves discover that the door is blocked? What does Bilbo’s proposal and his execution of that plan reveal about him?



Bilbo suggests that all the dwarves come with him into the dragon’s lair. The only way out is through the lair and they are not sure if the dragon is even there. Bilbo offers the plan with logic and calm courage. This is in contrast to his previous behavior of being flustered in tight situations. He leads the dwarves through the tunnel and offers warnings/guidance, which demonstrates his courage.

12. What does Bilbo find as he investigates the treasure hoard alone? What does he do with this object, and how does he justify his actions?



Bilbo finds the Arkenstone. He is dazzled by the gem and pockets it. He justifies his action to himself by recalling the dwarves’ words that he could pick his own share of the treasure. However, Biblo realizes that the offer probably doesn’t include the Arkenstone.

13. What finally caused the dwarves to step into Smaug’s den?



Startled by a bat, Bilbo drops his torch. He calls for help since the cave is totally dark. The dwarves set out to rescue the hobbit.

14. How does the treasure affect the various members of the company?



The dwarves are caught up in the “bewitchment of the hoard”. They are so consumed with the treasure, they forget their fear of Smaug. However, Bilbo is not as taken with the treasure as the dwarves.

15. Why do the travelers leave the Front Gate? Where do they decide to make camp?


The group decides it would be unwise to camp on Smaug’s “front step”. The dragon uses the Front Gate as an entrance. They move on to an old lookout post at the southwest corner of the mountain.



Chapter 14: Fire and Water

16. Who is Bard of Esgaroth? How is he able to kill Smaug?



Bard is a captain of archers and a descendant of the Lord of Dale, Girion. He is known for his strength and bravery. He is the first to warn of Smaug approaching. Bard courageously fights on to the last moment and aims carefully to bring down the dragon. He is aided by the thrush who informs Bard of the bare spot in Smaug’s armor, allowing Bard to kill the dragon.

17. Why does Tolkien postpone the news of Smaug’s death until Chapter 14?



Smaug is killed while the dwarves are exploring his lair. If Tolkein would have told us of the death of Smaug the suspense and tension would not be there.

18. How does the Master further prove to be a poor leader in this chapter?


The Master does not help in the fight against Smaug. Indeed, he is only interested in saving himself during the attack. Then, after the attack, he diverts the crowd’s desire to depose him in the favor of Bard by turning their opinion against the dwarves. They, so claims the Master, are the real cause of the present troubles. His diversion proving successful, the Master settles back to selfishly fill his own needs, seeking food and shelter. He ignores the plight of the sick, wounded, and homeless. The final proof of the Master’s weak leadership abilities is his decisions not go to the Mountain. He prefers to remain safely behind.

19. Why would Bard make a better leader than the Master?



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Bard’s bravery and leadership skills are apparent not only in his battle with Smaug. After the battle he shows concern for the welfare of the citizens and does not display the selfish instincts typical of the Master. Moreover, with his organizational talents, Bard is actually able to set up housing and protection for the helpless citizens. And it is his messengers who bring lifesaving help from the outside.

Bard’s selfless, brave, and effective action make him a vivid contrast to the Master and an inspiring leader.

20. How do the elves react to the news of Lake-town’s destruction?



Through his own messengers, the Elvenking learns of the commotion at Lake-town. He sets out in force for the Mountain, believing a war to be brewing. A messenger from bard meets them halfway, with a request for help. The Elvenking quickly responds, sending goods ahead of water. Then he leaves some of his troops in Lake-town to help rebuild shelters.



Chapter 15: The Gathering of the Clouds

21. What function to the plot is served by the raven, Roac?



The introduction of Roac is an exposition device, permitting the dwarves to discover some very vital news. Through the raven, the company learns the story of Smaug’s demise. They also hear of the approach of the men and elves. Finally, Roac’s ravens allow the dwarves to summon their kinsmen to the defense of the old stronghold and its treasure.

22. What preparations do the dwarves make after they hear news of the approaching men and elves?



The dwarves fortify the Front Gate, repair the road, and alter the river bed to make a pool. They also round up three ponies that escaped the dragon. Since the ponies are still carrying bundles of supplies, the company now has food for several weeks.

23. What are Bard’s arguments for claiming a share of Thorin’s treasure? How does Thorin react to Bard’s arguments?





Bard argues that he killed Smaug, which allowed the dwarves to regain the treasure. Plus, the men of Esgaroth helped the dwarves when they needed assistance, and now the situation is reserved. Bard also points out that not all of the treasure belongs to the dwarves. Mingled in with the riches are valuables which belonged to the men of Dale.

Thorin rejects bard’s arguments. He says he intends to repay the Lake-men for their assistance. However, he adds, “ ‘But nothing will we give, not even a lof’s worth, under threat of force.’”




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