The Hobbit

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Sting Symbol Icon
Bilbo finds a dagger in the trolls’ lair, which is small for the trolls, but large enough to serve as a sword for him. Later, when Bilbo is rescuing his friends from the spiders in Mirkwood forest, he renames this sword Sting. It’s no coincidence that Bilbo gives his weapon a name at the same time that he’s discovering his own aptitude for adventure, deception, and fighting. In effect, Bilbo “renames” himself in the second half of The Hobbit — he goes from thinking of himself as a well-to-do, adventure-phobic hobbit to a bold, daring adventurer (when he talks to Smaug, he even gives himself new names). Thus, Sting symbolizes Bilbo’s changing nature, and proves that ordinary things —a dagger or a hobbit — are full of surprises.

Sting Quotes in The Hobbit

The The Hobbit quotes below all refer to the symbol of Sting. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Coming of Age Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Ballantine Books edition of The Hobbit published in 2012.
Chapter 8 Quotes

Somehow the killing of the giant spider, all alone by himself in the dark without the help of the wizard or the dwarves or of anyone else, made a great difference to Mr. Baggins.
He felt a different person, and much fiercer and bolder in spite of an empty stomach, as he wiped his sword on the grass and put it back into its sheath.
"I will give you a name," he said to it, "and I shall call you Sting."

Related Characters: Bilbo Baggins (speaker)
Related Symbols: Sting
Page Number: 156
Explanation and Analysis:

In this important scene, Bilbo kills a giant spider, using the sword he acquired during the course of his earlier adventures. Standing over his defeated opponent, Bilbo feels like a new hobbit: braver, stronger, and more independent than ever before.

It's important to note that although Bilbo has owned his small sword for some time now, it's only now that he chooses to give it a name. Bilbo's decision to name his sword reflects his emergence as a full-fledged hero: a brave, intelligent warrior who defends his friends (in this scene, the dwarves, who have been captured) from evil. Previously, Bilbo had the potential to become a bold adventurer (just as his sword had the potential to kill), but now his potential has become a reality, as reflected by his new sense of courage. Bilbo seems to be naming his sword, but he might as well be rechristening himself: he's a hero now.


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Sting Symbol Timeline in The Hobbit

The timeline below shows where the symbol Sting appears in The Hobbit. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8: Flies and Spiders
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
...him. Bilbo manages to free his sword and kill the spider. He names his sword Sting, and suddenly feels powerful and excited. (full context)