DAY #3 - THE HOBBIT
In my desire to learn as much as possible about the strange little world that Tolkien created, I have read a whole lot of books about what The Hobbit is supposed to mean, and I have yet to run across a book by an author who actually knew what they were talking about. They all, sooner or later, retreat back to the the misunderstood and overused fact that Tolkien himself said that the story was in no way allegorical.
I know that he was not a person given over to telling untruths, neither was he being completely honest in this case; if anything, he was being lawyerly. The book is not allegorical because it is not anyway symbolic of life; it is life. It is written in code not allegory. It's a code that requires secret knowledge and pass words to reveal the mysteries that are in plain sight once you know where to look.
When I read it to my classes, I would use a transparency of Bilbo's little hobbit hole and ask them what it most resembled. When I turned the picture on it's side, I would invariably get the answer "a pregnant woman." Next, I would ask what would road leading away from the hole represent? Again, the invariable response, "Life."
It was a lesson about being born, and it always resurrected my belief in the ability of young people to understand literature, as I would never give away an answer but only ask leading questions, and they would never fail to provide the theme of the novel based on that one image mentioned on the very first page, "Life is an adventure and without the adventure there is no life."