Why didn't Bilbo visit Hobbiton one last time?

Discussion in '"The Lord of the Rings"' started by BalrogRingDestroyer, May 11, 2018.

  1. BalrogRingDestroyer

    BalrogRingDestroyer Member

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    This one has always bugged me. Bilbo said "Today, I pass up the Old Took." and he was going through the Shire to get through the Grey Havens. Why didn't he go to Hobbiton to celebrate his 131st birthday, which, for all we know, could well have been a historic event given his great age?


    Also, it would have cleared his name, as they could then know that he didn't die in his "joke" 20 years earlier.


    BTW, I can't for certain, but, other than Gandalf, who himself had actually die once, was Bilbo by this point the only living member left of the quest to Erebor? (I know that Balin, Thorin, Kili, Fili, and two other of the dwarves had died already by this point and know that, sometime after the War of the Ring, Gloin passed away of old age and the others couldn't have been any younger either, as the two youngest, Kili and Fili, had died in the Battle of Five Armies.) Also, I believe that Dain Ironfoot was killed in the Second Battle of Erebor too (and so was Bard's grandson).


    (BTW, the wording of the Hobbit, it does appear that Bilbo did , at some point, die in the Undying Lands, because it says "To the end of his days, which were quite long, Bilbo......" meaning that he did die at some point. Was he so close to that point that stopping in the Shire one last time for a bit would have meant that he'd have died before reaching the Undying Lands?


    I just can't think of any practical for him not to have stopped there one last time. Leaving Hobbiton while the Ring existed was the right thing to do, but after it was gone, I don't see why he shouldn't have returned, at least to say goodbye, if nothing else.


    (At least I don't think that Mr. Bilbo Baggins was alive in the Undying Lands by the time that Sam and Gimili came, though Frodo might have been as he was about Sam's age.)


    Of course, Merry and Pippin chose to spend their last years in Gondor instead of the Shire, so maybe Bilbo's decision was just something personal like theirs was.
     
  2. Alcuin

    Alcuin Registered User

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    This was the end of Middle-earth for Bilbo and Frodo. Since I’ve already dragged out Letters of JRR Tolkien tonight for another post, we can reference it for this one to get at both questions.

    In Letter 256 written in 1963, Tolkien wrote,
    Bilbo was “was old and confused”: this was, as Arwen foretold to Frodo in Minas Tirith, his one final journey in life. Bilbo also got to see Sam before he left Middle-earth; Hobbiton and the admiration (or envy) of the locals were no longer of any concern to him; indeed in his Farewell Speech many years earlier, he told his relatives and neighbors, “I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.” He was no longer interested in dealing with them, and while in Rivendell he evinced a keen interest in Hobbiton and its inhabitants in his initial conversations with Frodo, that was at a distance.

    Given Tolkien’s note, I think we can safely say that Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, and Gimli all died in Tol Eressëa. (Eldamar along the coast of Valinor and Tol Eressëa in the Bay of Eldamar were exposed to the winds of Middle-earth.) When Sam left Middle-earth after his wife Rose died, he and Frodo spent what remained of their years together in Tol Eressëa.
     

  3. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Lurking in the Chetwood

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    Good points. Structurally (yes, that again) Bilbo was in the position of the character who, rather than changing the absurd society, simply walks out of it, leaving it as it is.

    And it is absurd, at the beginning of the story; despite its attractive aspects, it also, as Tolkien said in several letters, has fallen into a kind of complacent, self-satisfied provincialism. This is well represented by Ted Sandyman: "Ah, they're both cracked".

    To the OP, ask me again when I'm 131!