Chapter 4: A Short Cut to Mushrooms
-In the morning, the friends awaken to find the elves have gone.
-Frodo, Sam, and Pippin leave the main road and cut through the wilderness just in time before a Black Rider appears.
-The group ends up in Farmer Maggot’s house. He tells them that a dark stranger on a black horse is searching for Frodo.
-Farmer Maggot gets them to the ferry crossing in secret.
Short cuts make long delays.
Chapter 5: A Conspiracy Unmasked
-A short history of Buckland is given.
-A glimpse of a Black Rider happens as they disembark from the ferry.
-At Crickhollow, Merry and Pippin disclose that they know all about the Ring.
–It’s decided that Merry and Pippin will join the quest. They all break into song for the third time.
–Frodo has a disturbing dream that night.
This chapter reminds me much of The Hobbit: when the friends break into song unexpectedly during the bath and later after they decide to go together on the quest.
It furthers the characterization of Hobbits as childlike, innocent, natural creatures who are truly out of their depths in adventures. Only Frodo, in his dark and prophetic dream, seems to have a clearer understanding. It seems that maybe the possession of the ring has already affected him in ways that make him different, less childlike.
Chapter 6: The Old Forest
-The Hobbits enter the forest and find it a hostile, cunning place.
– The trees seem to watch the group and paths move or disappear, herding the little group away from their destination.
-They reach the Withywindle, a river edged and surrounded by willows.
-A spell renders the friends asleep.
-Merry and Pippin are swallowed by a crack in a willow. Frodo is dumped in the river by the tree he fell asleep on.
-Enter (singing) the ridiculously cheerful and colorful character Tom Bombadil, who saves the friends!
-They arrive as guests at Tom Bombadil’s house.
Once again, this chapter is also reminiscent of a children’s tale. The dangers and evil encountered are more like those found in the telling of a fairy tale. The forest shows malice, but it does little harm to the friends. Old Man Willow tries to eat Merry and Pippin, but he is easily derailed by Tom Bombadil’s spell singing. It is almost as if the Black Riders and the Ring have been left behind. The appearance of Tom Bombadil itself is rather comic and unexpected.