Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 1/30: Finishing our essays

Sorry for the lack of updates, folks! By b!

Here’s everything you need to stay up to date:

1. Students finished their ACE-IT body paragraphs for their group essays. (Wednesday)

2. We learned how to write intros and conclusions. Here’s everything you need to know on W17: The Introduction ParagraphThe Conclusion Paragraph. (Thursday)

3. Next, we learned how to do a Works Cited entry by heart. (Parents, have your child sing you the song!) Here’s the notes sheet, W18: The Works Cited PageThe Title.

4. Groups came up with titles for the essay. A great trick for titles is to use the “Catchy Phrase: Description of the Essay” formula I learned from Ms. Austin in Virginia.

5. Finally, we double-checked everything with this final checklist, W19: Done with your essay final steps.

HW: Finish your essay by Monday morning.

Here is a stellar example about The Hobbit:

Expectations and Reputations: How Ancestry Affects Characters in The Hobbit

It is the beginning of what looks like a pleasant, summery day. A hobbit is lounging in his front yard, smoking his pipe after what must have been an extremely large breakfast, when a wizard stops by his door. After some conversation, the wizard offers him the opportunity of a lifetime. Surprisingly, the hobbit declines with a very strong no. When he is pushed further he flees into his house and slams the door, stuttering about teatime. If the reader knew that this hobbit was Bilbo of the proud Baggins family being offered a spot in an adventure, then perhaps his behavior would make more sense. His family are strict anti-adventurers, and the rest of the Shire expects him to act like his predictable father, Bungo Baggins. Bilbo Baggins isn’t the only character that is influenced by expectations to act like one’s ancestors, for in The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, characters are expected to act like their ancestors, but only at appropriate times.

Thorin Oakenshield, son of Thrain, is expected to act like his father but only at appropriate times. It is expected that Thorin will hold himself like his father, with strength and integrity. When the old wise crow Roac addresses Thorin as the “son of Thrain” (276), he is showing Thorin that his father was an extremely important figure and he has a big name to live up to. Thorin does show some of his father’s traits at appropriate times. When he is talking to the dwarves and Bilbo the night before the big adventure begins he says “we shall soon . . . Start on a journey, a journey from which some of us or perhaps all of us may never return”(20). When Thorin says this you can see that is aware of the struggles that lie ahead and he is bravely willing to take them on. This also shows that Thorin is a strong and brave leader just like his father. Whenever you inherit or show the traits of your ancestors it may not be the most opportune time, on page 297, when all of the armies are assembling around the mountain that is full of gold, Thorin is offered the Arkenstone which is a very large bright white priceless stone that means alot to him, because it was his father’s most prized possession. Thrain had all the gold that anyone could ever wish for and that stone was the single most important object he possessed. All the Arkenstone did was fuel the fire that was Thrain’s greed. This greed was passed down to Thorin from his father. He may not always act greedy, but when he does it is very easy to blame his actions on his father. When the old crow Roac is talking to Thorin about all the gold in the mountain,he says, “The treasure is likely to be your death, though the dragon is no more”(269). This could mean that the wise crow is expecting Thorin’s greed to overwhelm him much like his father.  Once Thorin realizes that the gold is his, he wants more, all of the gold in the cave is nowhere near as valuable as the Arkenstone. Thorin sees that Bilbo went behind his back and made a deal with the enemy involving the Arkenstone, he is enraged, he begins to scream and shout calling Bilbo and Gandalf “descendents of rats”. Thorin has obviously let the power go to his head at that point. Thorin’s father had done the same, maybe even for the same reason. Because Thorin’s father was such a well known and noble man, his son is expected to have a similar if not identical reputation. When Gandalf sees Thorin’s reaction to Bilbo’s undermining he says that Thorin is certainly “not making a very splendid figure as king under the mountain”(277).  Bard is also a man of noble birth, he is the in the line of Girion and he is expected to hold himself as is honorable ancestors did, he too has a few big names to live up to. This goes to show that whether you are of noble birth or your ancestors were well know people expect you to hold yourself just as they did, but only at appropriate times.

The Lake-men don’t expect Bard to act like his ancestor Girion, the prosperous lord of Dale, until they can see that it benefits them. Until that time, they expect him to act like a normal Lake-man, not a foreigner. When Bard is introduced, he is guarding the Lake-town at night. When the dragon flies down from the mountain in a fury to get at the Lake-town, his fire lights up the water, making it look like gold. All of the Lake-town guards except Bard think that the lake has been turned to gold by Thorin and begin to celebrate. Bard however is practical enough to know that it is the dragon’s fire and not Thorin that changes the color of the water. His fellow guards don’t appreciate his guidance. “You are always foreboding gloomy things!” they say. “Anything from floods to poisoned fish. Think of something cheerful!” (267). This tells us that Bard is “always” looking out for things that are potential dangers to his people. He probably inherited the fear of his home being destroyed from his father, whose kingdom was destroyed by Smaug the dragon. When the other guards use the phrase “always foreboding” and the word “gloomy,” they are hinting that they think Bard is being unnecessarily paranoid. Then they top it off by telling him to “think of something cheerful.”  That means that they don’t appreciate that he is looking out for their town and they don’t want him to act like his ancestor. They would rather have him act like a normal Lake-man. However, when the Lake-men understand how it benefits them, then they expect him to act like his ancestor.

Bilbo Baggins is also guilty of expecting Bard to act like his ancestors, but only at times when it benefits others. When Bilbo is trying to prevent a fight between the dwarves, the Lake-men, and the elves, he goes to find Bard because he expects him to act like his ancestor Girion because of what he heard from the thrush. Notice that this is a time when Bard’s Girion-like behavior would benefit others. Bilbo tells the elven guards that “Bard will remember [him] and it is Bard [he] particularly want[s] to see!” (292). Bilbo is willing to count on the fact that “Bard will remember [him]” because he expects him to be practical, like any good leader, and remember that there is a fourteenth member of the party, however small and insignificant that member is. He “particularly want[s] to see” Bard because he knows that Bard is descended from the line of Girion, the prosperous lord of Dale. Kings and lords of prosperous towns and kingdoms are generally accredited with traits of justice, so Bilbo is stereotyping Girion and expecting that Bard inherited his sense of justice.

The Master of the Lake-town also expects Bard to act like Girion, because then Bard will rule over Dale instead of taking the Master’s position as leader of the Lake-town. After Bard kills the dragon, the people want to make him king, but the master uses Bard’s lineage to convince them otherwise. The Master tells the people, “Girion was lord of Dale . . . let ‘King Bard’ go back to his own kingdom– Dale is now freed by his valour” (272). When the Master states that “Girion was lord of Dale” he is treating Bard like Girion. It benefits him because if Bard inherits the kingdom of his ancestor, then the Master retains leadership of the Lake-town. In fact, he’s already counting on Bard inheriting the kingdom from Girion, because he refers to the kingdom as “[Bard’s] own kingdom.” I the reader acknowledges that Bard is expected to act like his ancestor Girion, the prosperous lord of Dale, but only when other people could see that it benefited them, then the peer pressure that he felt to act like a normal Lake-man, and then to be a hero and leader like his ancestor Girion can now be understood. This sliding scale of expectations can also be connected to Bilbo Baggins.

Bilbo Baggins, too, is expected to act like either a Took or a Baggins at the appropriate times for the benefit of others. In the beginning of the novel, Bilbo is in the Shire explaining how Bagginses normally keep to themselves because it is proper. Being that he is in the Shire, he has no use for adventures for that very reason. The Shire is Bagginses territory, and they frown upon such things.  Bilbo says, “we are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures” (7). The phrase “no use” emphasizes the fact that Bagginses couldn’t care less about adventures of any type. By saying this, Bilbo shows his Baggins side. Bilbo also acts like a Took, but also only at the appropriate times. Towards the middle of the novel, the elves are picking on Bilbo by saying things such as “mind Bilbo doesn’t eat all the cakes…he is too fat to get through the keyholes yet!’” (57). This quote shows that they pick on him for his size, but little do they know that being a plump ol’ fellow, comes along with being a Baggins, who “are inclined to be fat” (2).  Later in the book, Bilbo shows even more Baggins traits.  The narrator says, “For Thorin had taken heart again hearing how the hobbit had rescued his companions…” (190). The fact that he “rescued his companions” shows the Took side of Bilbo, because he is risking his life to save others.  At the end of the novel, Bilbo has come back from his adventure, and is witnessing all of his possessions being sold.  The narrator says, “Indeed Bilbo had found he. . .lost his reputation”  (327). The fact that he lost “his reputation” shows that he did careless things unlike a Baggins, showing his took side. Since he is in the Shire, his actions are being frowned upon because the Bagginses are strictly against adventures and Tookish-ness. It is understandably difficult for Bilbo to know when to follow which side of his family.

By recognizing how, at appropriate times, the characters in The Hobbit are expected to act like their ancestors. The reader can then understand one of the reasons a character acts the way they do. This applies to Thorin Oakenshield, who is expected to be a very brave and honorable leader just like father and grandfather were. This also applies to Bard, who is at first expected to act like a normal Lake-man, but when the Lake-town needs him, he is expected to act like his ancestor Girion, the prosperous Lord of Dale. Ancestor’s reputations may also be applied to Bilbo Baggins, who is expected to act like either a Took or a Baggins depending on those around him and what sort of society he is in. When the reader acknowledges the pressures passed down from the characters’ ancestors, they can understand them on a more personal level. If the reader chooses to ignore this, they will then fail to appreciate the wide variety of Tolkien’s characters, and only think of them as two-dimensional characters with few goals in mind. This would greatly take away from the reading experience and perceptions of the values handed down to the characters in the book.

     Work Cited

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Hobbit. 1937. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001. Print.