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Copyright 2002

Created by Brian Thornton

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The Hobbit

Novel Study Guide

JRR Tolkien


Answer all questions in sentence form.


  1. Examine the map at the beginning of the book and discuss with your classmates.
  2. What are runes?
  3. Decipher the rune characters on the top of the first page.
  4. Decipher the message on the map located under the pointing hand.
  5. Explain the difference between a goblin and a hobgoblin.
  6. Construct a chart with the rune characters and the English translations.
  7. Translate the last message found in the introduction.
Research how messages are encrypted and deciphered.  Invent your own code for sending secret messages and see if any of your classmates can break the code.

Chapter One-- An Unexpected Party

  1. Write a short biography on J.R.R. Tolkien and present it to your classmates.
  2. Who is Bilbo Baggins?
  3. Give a brief description of a hobbit.
  4. Discuss the significance of the name Belladonna.
  5. What did Gandalf claim to be looking for when he arrived on Bilbo's doorstep?
  6. What does Gandalf do with the spike on his staff just before leaving Bilbo's home?
  7. Who began to arrive at Bilbo's home the next day for tea?
  8. Give proof that Gandalf has knocked very hard on Bilbo's front door.
  9. List the instruments the dwarves used to accompany their songs.
  10. What indication is there that Thorin is the leader of the dwarves?
  11. Explain why Bilbo lets out a horrible shriek and begins to shake like jelly.
  12. 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?
  13. According to Thorin what had happened to his family's wealth?
Vocabulary:  porthole, belladonna, absurd, discreet, scuttling, flummoxed, wretched, parlour, kindling, fetch, fender, audacious, conspirator, remuneration, obstinately, reverence, necromancer

Enrichment:  Make a complete list of the characters introduced in chapter one including their personalities when possible.  Working in small groups write the names on chart paper and then discuss with the class.

Create a title page for your novel study guide.

Keep a daily journal about what you think of the novel.  At the end of the novel reread your journal to see how your opinions and feelings have evolved.


Chapter Two-- Roast Mutton

  1. What evidence is there that Bilbo Baggins hasn't just been dreaming about a party?
  2. What indication is there in the note left by Thorin and Company that the adventure or quest may prove to be perilous for Bilbo?
  3. Who do the dwarves notice has gone missing?
  4. Describe what Bilbo Baggins sees as he approaches the red light.
  5. Explain the humour in the expression, "I . . . cook better than I cook."
  6. Explain what happens to the dwarves as they come to Bilbo's aid.
  7. How does Gandalf use his powers on Bert and Tom and William?
  8. How did Gandalf finally manage to open the big stone door leading to the trolls' cave?
  9. What did Gandalf and Thorin each take from the cave?
Vocabulary:  trifle, outlandish, fluster, mantelpiece, defrayed, esteemed, paraphernalia, ambled, obliged, cavalcade, primly, mutton, spits, detest, plunder, gnawed, trolls, stooped, suffocated, scabbards, sheath, larder, provisions, incantations, replenishing

Enrichment:  Do some research on trolls, dwarves, and wizards.  Provide illustrations and make a short presentation to your classmates.

Pretend you are either a dwarf or a troll and write a letter to J.R.R. Tolkien commenting on his novel, The Hobbit.


Chapter Three-- A Short Rest

  1. According to Gandalf, what lay hidden somewhere not too far ahead of the travellers?
  2. Who was Elrond?
  3. Explain moon letters.
  4. What is Durin's Day?
Vocabulary:  forded, solemn, dwelling, ravine, drowsy, faggots, reeking, bannocks, folley, parapet, bridle, palpitating, gruesome, ancestors, venerable, hoard, remnants, cleave, vexed, cunning, crescent

Enrichment:  Find rune fonts on the net and download them to your own computer.  Write a short note or letter to your classmates and see if they are able to decipher it.  They may be downloaded in a zip file.  Microsoft Word Programs use .ttf (true type fonts).  Check with someone knowledgeable about computer software before installing the fonts although they are usually installed in the Fonts subfolder located in the Windows folder.


Chapter Four-- Over Hill and Under Hill

  1. Explain how the dwarves and the hobbit were able to find their way up the treacherous mountain.
  2. What did Tolkien mean by a thunder-battle?
  3. Describe what the stone-giants were doing.
  4. What indication is there that the cave might not be safe?
  5. Summarize Bilbo's dream that evening.
  6. Why was it fortunate that Bilbo had accompanied the dwarves into the cave?
  7. What happened when the crack in the wall snapped shut?
  8. Explain how the horses, ponies and donkeys all disappeared.
  9. Why were the Great Goblin and many of his soldiers so upset when they saw Thorin's sword?
  10. Who came to the rescue of the dwarves and what weapon did they use?
  11. What happens to Bilbo at the end of this chapter?
Vocabulary:  deceptions, infested, astray, splinters, guffawing, drenched, tinder, flint, jammering, rummaged, ingenious, devices, grudge, hospitable, hordes, scurrying

Enrichment:  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.


Chapter Five-- Riddles in the Dark

  1. Why was Bilbo so frightened when he regained consciousness?
  2. What does Bilbo find as he crawls blindly along the floor of the tunnel?
  3. Why was Bilbo comforted by his dagger or small sword?
  4. How was Bilbo able to see in the darkness?
  5. Why was Bilbo reluctant to wade in the water?
  6. Who is Gollum and where does he live?
  7. Explain the basic rules of the riddle game.
  8. Explain the power of Gollum's ring.
  9. Why did Gollum hurry right past Bilbo?
  10. Explain how Gollum unexpectedly aids the hobbit in his escape.
  11. Why are the goblins reluctant to pursue Bilbo Baggins once he is outside?
Vocabulary:  groped, breeches, dagger, glimmer, subterranean, wade, slinking, throttled, prowling, wits, morsel, sacred, antiquity, splayed, resolve, despair, smote, ajar, wedged, giddy

Enrichment:  Draw one of the characters from The Hobbit or illustrate a scene.  Place the illustrations in a booklet and place in the school library.


Chapter Six-- Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire

  1. What did Bilbo Baggins intend to do if he was unable to find Gandalf or the dwarves?
  2. What did the dwarves want to do when there was no sign of Bilbo?
  3. How might you use the power of the golden ring if you possessed it?
  4. Why did Gandalf encourage the adventurers to hurry on their way?
  5. What noise did they hear as they stepped into the clearing?
  6. Explain the significance of the title of this chapter.
  7. Why would the ring not protect Bilbo from the wolves (Wargs)?
  8. Who helped Bilbo escape into the tree?
  9. Why did the wolves alert the goblins to the adventurers who are hiding in the trees?
  10. Who rescued the party of adventurers from their perilous position in the trees?
Vocabulary:  abominable, reputation, shuddered, benighted, nipped, acquainted, dusk, trudge, thyme, sage, marjoram, intervals, boughs, glade porter, clamour, devouring, uncanny, lofty, shafts, bracken, bonfire, shrivel, cinders, talons, borne, tumult, flurry, pale, eyrie, precipice, rendered, yew, famished

Enrichment:  Create your own character for The Hobbit and discuss how you would introduce them to the novel.  Some readers might have already noticed the dearth of female characters in the novel.


Chapter Seven-- Queer Lodgings

  1. Why did Bilbo pinch the eagle?
  2. What announcement caused the dwarves to moan and Bilbo to weep?
  3. According to Gandalf what are two possibilities explaining the origin of Beorn?
  4. How does Gandalf prove himself to be a great manipulator when he is talking to Beorn?
  5. What information did Beorn glean in his travels to the wolf-glade?
  6. What gruesome sight did Beorn reveal to the adventurers when asked by Bilbo what had happened to the captured wolf and goblin?
  7. What warning does Beorn give the travellers about proceeding through Mirkwood?
  8. What shadowy form did Bilbo think he had seen on the third evening of their journey?
  9. What were Gandalf's final cautionary words as he bade farewell to the dwarves and Bilbo?
Vocabulary:  vain, pinnacles, spirals, outpost, plight, appalling, furrier, plodded, unimpeachable, refuge, heath, perils, veranda, vengeance, gnarled

Enrichment:  Give examples as to how Gandalf is able to manipulate various characters in the novel.


Chapter Eight-- Flies and Spiders

  1. Why were the travellers unable to cross over the stream by bridge?
  2. Describe what happened to Bombur as he was about to step into the boat.
  3. Explain how Bombur's unfortunate incident slowed their travels.
  4. Explain why Bilbo and the dwarves strayed from the path.
  5. What did Bilbo discover was happening to him when he awoke?
  6. Explain the transformation of Bilbo Baggins' character as he renames his sword Sting.
  7. Why is Bilbo horrified when he stumbles upon the dwarves in a dark part of the Mirkwood forest?
  8. Explain why Bilbo was so adroit at throwing stones.
  9. Summarize Bilbo's rescue of the dwarves.
  10. What do the dwarves discover when they take a headcount?
Vocabulary:  lichen, ceased, bulbous, taut, falter, venison, lamenting, hart, baying, hind, fawns, disquieting, eerie, tuppence, parchingly, mirth, revive, pantries, stealthily, loathsome, quoits, infuriate, hobble, fortress, dungeon, tilling, sternly

Enrichment:  Pretend you are one of the characters in the novel and allow yourself to be interviewed by your classmates.


Chapter Nine-- Barrels Out of Bond

  1. Where did the Wood-elves take their captives?
  2. How did the dwarves react to their interrogation by the Elvenking?
  3. What does the Elvenking order his men to do?
  4. How did Bilbo learn that Thorin was being kept captive in the dungeon?
  5. Who played a key role in the escape of the dwarves from prison?
  6. Briefly describe their final departure from the palace.
Vocabulary:  haste, beeches, desert, clang, hewn, surly, realm, rouse, riot, remotest, nimble, ransom, portcullis, vineyards, butler, flagons, potent, vintage, blundering, adjoining, stowed, stifling, turnkey, casks, jostling, mead, kine, astride, eddying, pier, snivel, suppressed, commotion, fretted, fend


Write a short script of a conversation between two of the main characters; for example, Bilbo and Thorin and act it out in front of your classmates.

Recreate your own map similar to the one at the beginning of the book.  Include some rune characters.


Chapter Ten-- A Warm Welcome

  1. Describe the scene as Bilbo approaches the region where the trees ended.
  2. Describe the strange town at the mouth of the Forest River.
  3. What strange creatures inhabited the town?
  4. Why did the guards at Lake-town not keep a very careful watch?
  5. Why were the raft-men elves so astonished at the appearance of the dwarves?
  6. Why does the Master relinquish his own great chair to Thorin despite the fact that he is not completely convinced that the dwarf is who he claims to be?
  7. How appropriate is the title of this chapter?
  8. How did the Elvenking respond to the news of the dwarves' plans to slay the dragon, Smaug, and capture his treasure.
  9. Who was the only person thoroughly unhappy the day of the departure?
Vocabulary:  isles, loomed, dreary, bickerings, alluding, ominous, anxiety, shingles, swirl, promontory, drought, draggled, tassel, squabbled, tolls, gammers, comrades, vagabond, molesting, waylaid, enmity, quays, thronged, obscure, pampered, inspired, fortnight, gratitude, circuitous

Enrichment:  Pretend you are Bilbo and begin to keep a diary of your adventures.  Make an entry at the end of each chapter.  You may wish to add maps and illustrations.


Chapter Eleven-- On the Doorstep

  1. Why did the men of the town refuse to stay overnight where the dwarves disembarked?
  2. Describe their surroundings as the adventurers moved nearer to the Mountain.
  3. Which dwarf informs Bilbo that he was in the Dale the day the Dragon attacked?
  4. What did Bilbo and his companions see on their scouting expedition?
  5. Explain how Bilbo begins to take a leadership role in their quest.
  6. How does Bilbo finally unlock the riddle and the secret door?
Vocabulary:  disembarked, desolate, laden, slanting, spur, bleak, barren, waning, lair, vapour, quest, pondering, marauding, toiled, midday, lintel, threshold, implored, fragments, mishap, slender, reigned, crannies, enclosure, trill

Enrichment:  Pretend you are a journalist.  Write a news story about the band of adventurers journey and what you anticipate will happen in the days ahead.


Chapter Twelve-- Inside Information

  1. How did the dwarves respond when Bilbo asked for volunteers to accompany him into the Mountain?
  2. What took away Bilbo's breath?
  3. Describe the dragon.
  4. What did Bilbo carry back to the dwarves?
  5. How do we know that Smaug kept close tabs on his treasure?
  6. What analogy does the author use when describing the dragon's rage?
  7. What indication is there that Bilbo is turning into a real leader?
  8. What can no dragon resist?
  9. What was Bilbo pleased to see when he tricked the dragon into displaying his underside?
  10. Why does Bilbo regret his comment about the Barrel-rider to Smaug?
  11. Why does Bilbo throw a stone at the thrush?
  12. How did the band of adventurers become trapped in the Mountain?
Vocabulary:  debated, chorus, treacherous, wisps, slumber, coiled, mail, vessels, belched, smouldering, guardian, lust, cowered, draught, cringing, dignity, scorched, perplexed, wrath, whiff, drooping, lore, flattered, sneered, scoffed, antiquated, skulking, roving, grievous, hither, cartage, wily, devastating, gloated, tenfold, flawless, spouted, ghastly, marrow, proverb, dubious, mythical, stratagems, prod, gilded, smithereens

Enrichment:  Compose your own poem about the novel and illustrate it.


Chapter Thirteen-- Not at Home

  1. Explain the significance of the title of this chapter.
  2. Why do the dwarves finally relent and make their way down the dark tunnel to Smaug's lair?
  3. What does Bilbo confiscate from the mound of treasure?
  4. How does Tolkien use the treasure to portray the dwarves in a negative light?
  5. What does Thorin offer Baggins as a reward for his assistance?
  6. In addition to the gems and gold, what else did the dwarves confiscate?
  7. Why did Thorin offer to lead the group of adventurers to the Front Gate?
Vocabulary:  tinged, pallid, wavering, timidly, swooped, fleeting, rekindled, mound, brim, studded, bewitchment, hailed, gaping, adornments, mouldered, furtive, tattered, fluttering, charred, channel, sobered, prosperity, steeple, dominion, perpetually

Enrichment:  Compare and contrast The Hobbit with other works of fantasy.  Use both ancient and contemporary works of literature.  Is there a particular age group to whom the fantasy genre appeals?  Explain.


Chapter Fourteen-- Fire and Water

  1. How do the townspeople taking a stroll on the quays, interpret the flickering light at the northern end of the lake?
  2. Conduct your own research to discover what a bard was.
  3. How do the townspeople react to the initial warnings from the Bard?
  4. How does the Bard save the day?
  5. What important role does the thrush play in the demise of the dragon?
  6. Why does the Master grind his chattering teeth?
  7. How does the Master redirect the crowds anger?
  8. What did the Elvenking think had happened to Thorin and the dwarves when he received news of Smaug's death?
  9. Who came to the Bard's assistance thus enabling the townspeople to survive the approaching winter?
Vocabulary:  blotted, forging, hotfoot, prophecies, rippled, foiled, quench, twanging, archers, foes, ablaze, thatched, hindered, descendant, foreleg, barb, waxing, mournful, slain, valour, eminent, benefactors, deposed, ample, recompense, widows, orphans, scowled, contrived, carcase, array

Enrichment:  In a short ten minute brainstorming session outline the qualities of a leader.  Break off into small groups of three or four and select two characters from the novel.  Using the various leadership traits discussed in the brainstorming session, compare and contrast their leadership abilities.  Characters might include: the Elvenking, the Hobbit, Thorin, Gandalf, and the Master

With some of your classmates act out a scene from the novel.  Use a camcorder to record the presentation and share it with other classes in your school.


Chapter Fifteen-- The Gathering of the Clouds

  1. Why would the presence of carrion birds suggest that a battle is imminent?
  2. Who is Roac?
  3. What news does Roac bring to the dwarves?
  4. What course of action did Thorin choose after hearing the news?
  5. How does the Bard justify his claim and also that of his men to Smaug's treasure?
  6. What conditions did Thorin insist on before he would negotiate any terms of settlement with the Bard?
Vocabulary:  carrion, afoot, perched, decrepit, croaked, alighted, abroad, caper, fortifying, quarriers, yore, parley, heir, kindred, succoured, repent, sires, quivering, truce

Enrichment:  Write and perform with some of your classmates a song that tells the story from the perspective of one of the characters.  Be sure to employ a variety of instruments.


Chapter Sixteen-- A Thief in the Night

  1. What does Thorin vow to do to anyone who withholds the Arkenstone?
  2. Who was the "thief in the night"?
  3. How was Bilbo able to escape?
  4. Why did Bilbo give the Arkenstone to the Bard?
  5. Who delights Bilbo with his presence just as the hobbit is preparing to depart the camp for his return to the Mountain?
Vocabulary:  avenged, siege, spluttering, sentinels, deduct, betraying, thrice, escort

Enrichment:  Explain the expression, "I may be a burglar. . . but I am an honest one".  Explain the phrase, "Honour amongst thieves".

Is stealing always wrong?  Defend your answer.


Chapter Seventeen-- The Clouds Burst

  1. How does Bilbo defend himself against Thorin's accusation that he has stolen the Arkenstone?
  2. Why were Dain's people refused entry to the Mountain?
  3. Why did the dwarf attack against the Bard and the Elvenking end as quickly as it had begun?
  4. What role does the hobbit play in this fierce battle?
  5. What is the "gleam in the gloom" and how does it turn the tide of the battle?
  6. What happens to Bilbo at the end of this chapter?
Vocabulary:  embassy, idle, heirloom, league, literally, disposed, forbear, redeem, deceit, wary, hauberk, mesh, mattocks, plaited, encircle, astir, tarry, reconciliation, colonies, assault, sufficient summon, multitude, vanguard, feint, onslaught, heedless, scimitars, vampire, levers, restrain, stricken, hideous, corpses, hemmed, hurtling, helm

Enrichment:  Debate the following statement with your classmates.  Fantasy is a waste of time for most teenagers and adults.  Fictional literature should for the most part be limited to children below the age of 12 as it serves little purpose other than to entertain.  At the conclusion of the debate, conduct a vote and announce the results.


Chapter Eighteen-- The Return Journey

  1. Who has sent a man in search of Bilbo?
  2. Who has been mortally wounded?
  3. What protagonist from earlier in the story reappears to do battle with the forces of evil?
  4. Describe Thorin's final resting place.
  5. How do we know that Bilbo was well guided and well guarded on his way home?
Vocabulary:  notched, hoarse, wept, sorrow, dislodged, bore, fray, fugitives, perished, captivity, mortal, restored, overthrown, abode, hospitality, gravely, Yule-tide

Enrichment:  Are the dwarves basically good or basically evil?  Write a short essay defending your position.

Create a poster that promotes the novel.  Make sure your poster is colourful yet simple.


Chapter Nineteen-- The Last Stage

  1. Explain why Gandalf had to leave the party of adventurers near Mirkwood?
  2. What did Gandalf and Bilbo do with the troll's gold?
  3. Explain the commotion that Bilbo discovers as he arrives at his home.
  4. Gandalf tells Bilbo he is not the hobbit he once used to be.  Do you agree or disagree?  Defend your response.
  5. How does Bilbo Baggins still make use of his magic ring?
Vocabulary:  brink, cherish, hearth, gloaming, banished, lullaby, auction, affection, memoirs, refounded

Enrichment:  Give a book talk to your friends describing what you enjoyed about the book and what you have learned from it.

Write a new ending or add a new chapter to the novel.

Pretend that you wish to create a fan club for Tolkien's works.  Create a web site outlining why you admire Tolkien's books and don't forget to include some of your own illustrations.  Contact us and we will link it to this activity.


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Copyright 2002

Created by: Brian Thornton, Capo Creations, Box 1411, Haileybury, Ontario, CANADA POJ 1KO

Not to be used or copied in any manner without specific written consent of the publisher All Rights Reserved

Complete List of Novels