The Hobbit


J.R.R. Tolkien

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The Hobbit: Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Back on the Lonely Mountain, Bilbo and the dwarves are trying to determine where Smaug is. They notice the thrush that told Bard about Smaug’s weak point. The dwarves complain however that they can’t understand what the thrush is saying; as a result, the thrush flies away and brings back an old raven, Rac, who Bilbo and the dwarves can understand, since they have a historic friendship with the birds. Rac tells the group that Smaug is dead, having been shot by Bard, and they are overjoyed with this news. Rac adds that the men of the lake, along with the wood-elves, are marching to the Lonely Mountain seeking some of Thorin’s treasure, and that Thorin should trust Bard, not the Master.
Tolkien quickly gets the plot exposition out of the way—now, both sides (men and dwarves) know that Smaug is dead, and thus that the dwarves’ treasure is up for grabs. Even though a conflict seems to be brewing between Thorin and Bard, it’s worth noting that the thrush tells Thorin to trust Bard—but here Thorin refuses, marking a break from his cooperation with nature and the emergence of his greed above all. In many ways, Bard is like Thorin: they’re both highly loyal to the people they lead. The difference is that Bard has already proven that he is willing to fight and negotiate on behalf of his people; it’s not yet clear if Thorin is as devoted to his fellow dwarves, or if he’s loyal, first and foremost, to his precious treasure.
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Thorin is furious to learn that others will try to take part of his treasure, and vows not to give away any of it. He tells Rac to fly to Dain, Thorin’s cousin who lives in the Iron Hills, to summon him to come with an army, and orders his own group of dwarves to fortify the Lonely Mountain. Bilbo points out that they have only a little food, and thinks to himself that their adventure is over, and that he’d like to go home now.
Bilbo is no longer sure of his role, since the task he was hired for—burglary—he’s already accomplished. Thus, he wants to return to his home as soon as possible. It’s as if Bilbo alone is unaffected by the huge amounts of treasure around him (though, of course, it’s worth remembering that Bilbo has already taken the Arkenstone for himself).
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