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Old 09-15-2014, 01:29 PM   #1
Marlowe221
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"That is the Way for Us" - But Which Way?

Hi all,

I do a lot more lurking/reading around these forums than I do posting (I almost never post, sadly) but I thought I would put this small problem before the best Tolkien community on the internet as it has been bothering me for some time.

My favorite part of the whole trilogy is the first 5-6 (the party to Bree) chapters of Fellowship. I have read these chapters more times than any other part of the books and as I tend to be prone to over-analyzing things...

In Chapter 3, Three is Company, the Hobbits have their first encounter with a Black Rider. After the unsettling event, Frodo and Co. decide to proceed as quickly as possible, but not on the road for obvious reasons. As evening is coming on, the trio go back to the road. I will now quote from the text:

"The sun had gone down behind the hills at their backs, and evening was coming on before they came back to the road as the end of the long level over which it had run straight for some miles. At that point it bent left and went down in to the lowlands of the Yale making for Stock; but a lane branched right, winding through a wood of ancient oak-trees on its way to Woodhall. 'That is the way for us,' said Frodo."

But which way was the way for them? The road towards Stock? Or the smaller lane towards Woodhall? To me, the text at that moment makes it sound like they took the lane towards Woodhall. Just a few lines later, the narrator mentions "the lane" again, which I originally interpreted as meaning that they had taken the smaller lane to the right towards Woodhall.

But there are several clues that indicate that they, in fact, took the road to Stock.

Here is the map of a portion of The Shire included in almost every edition of the books I have ever seen:



I believe the map was not drawn by J.R.R., but later by Christopher (please correct me if I am wrong). It is entirely possible that this is not quite the way that J.R.R. would have drawn the map had he done so himself...

Personally, I believe that Frodo, Sam, and Pippin began to take the road to Stock before their second encounter with a Black Rider and their meeting with Gildor and subsequent change of course. Why have I come to that conclusion?

Well, after spending the night with Gildor and the Elves, Frodo proposes a shortcut to which Pippin famously objects, "short cuts make long delays." But Pippin also adds that he had "counted on passing the Golden Perch at Stock before sundown." Additionally, when proposing his short cut Frodo says:

"The Ferry is east from Woodhall; but the hard road curves away to the left - you can see a bend of it away north over there. It goes round the Marish so as to strike the causeway from the Bridge above Stock. But that is miles out of the way."

One more point. Later in Chapter 4, when Farmer Maggot has graciously given a ride to Frodo and Co. to the Ferry they are surprised (and relieved) to meet Merry just at the entry to the Ferry road. Merry says, "I was beginning to wonder if you would turn up at all today, and I was just going back to supper. When it grew foggy I came across and rode up towards Stock to see if you had fallen in any ditches. But I'm blessed if I know which way you have come."

Now why would Pippin hope to have a pint at the Golden Perch at Stock if they were never planning to go that way? Why would Merry ride north towards Stock from the Ferry if they had planned to go through Woodhall?

The only explanation I can come up with is this: Either they had planned and started out towards Stock when the Black Rider and Gildor diverted them...

Or the map of The Shire printed in the book kind of sucks.

When I look at that map I see a few things that don't really make much sense. For instance, why is there no road from Hobbiton to Tuckborough? Or from Tuckborough to Waymoot? We know that Tuckborough was one of the most important Hobbit towns and yet it would appear to be extremely isolated if the map with which the reader is provided is to be believed.

One can only assume that there must be such roads and that, for some reason, they do not appear on the map. Similarly, looking at the map, it seems difficult to believe that there would not be a road of some kind from Stock to Woodhall.

If such a road did exist, it might provide a more rational explanation for why the party would take the smaller lane to the right towards Woodhall. If this imaginary road took a traveler directly to Stock, then it would make sense for Pippin to have his beer at the Perch and for Merry to expect them to come from that direction.

Any way, this has bothered me for years. It's small. It's probably stupid. But it bugs the crap out of me. What do you all think? Am I right? Am I missing something obvious? Am I worrying about nothing?

Thanks for reading!

Last edited by Marlowe221; 09-15-2014 at 01:36 PM.
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Old 09-15-2014, 03:45 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Marlowe221 View Post
The only explanation I can come up with is this: Either they had planned and started out towards Stock when the Black Rider and Gildor diverted them...

Or the map of The Shire printed in the book kind of sucks.
Firstly, good to see you posting and not lurking, welcome!

Secondly, while I agree that it seems strange not to have a road between Hobbiton and Tuckbourough I do think that your first explanation is correct. Frodo probably planned to hit the road to Stock and the Ferry, but the encounter with the Black Rider made him change his mind and take the lane to Wood End instead since it takes them more out-of-the-way. If you look at that map The Short-Cut (To Mushrooms) make sense too. Taking the lane to Woodhall and cutting across the Marish makes the trip shorter in distance but not (as Pippin points out) time-wise, not least because they are hindered by the Stockbrook (which is mentioned in the narrative). If you need any more proof that they did not take the road to Stock, Farmer Maggot lives in the Marish, which is south of the Stockbrook (while the Road is well north of it). Hope that was of some help.

Edit: I'm kind of tired and didn't quite understand what you meant, now I think I do. But in the quote you gave us Frodo says plainly that the way for them is the lane towards Woodhall, doesn't he? Pippin though he was a bit crazy taking that route, and he wanted that pint at Stock but the company certainly took the lane nevertheless.
"The sun had gone down behind the hills at their backs, and evening was coming on before they came back to the road as the end of the long level over which it had run straight for some miles. At that point it bent left and went down in to the lowlands of the Yale making for Stock; but a lane branched right, winding through a wood of ancient oak-trees on its way to Woodhall. 'That is the way for us,' said Frodo."
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Last edited by skip spence; 09-15-2014 at 04:01 PM.
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Old 09-15-2014, 04:20 PM   #3
Marlowe221
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Originally Posted by skip spence View Post
Firstly, good to see you posting and not lurking, welcome!

Secondly, while I agree that it seems strange not to have a road between Hobbiton and Tuckbourough I do think that your first explanation is correct. Frodo probably planned to hit the road to Stock and the Ferry, but the encounter with the Black Rider made him change his mind and take the lane to Wood End instead since it takes them more out-of-the-way. If you look at that map The Short-Cut (To Mushrooms) make sense too. Taking the lane to Woodhall and cutting across the Marish makes the trip shorter in distance but not (as Pippin points out) time-wise, not least because they are hindered by the Stockbrook (which is mentioned in the narrative). If you need any more proof that they did not take the road to Stock, Farmer Maggot lives in the Marish, which is south of the Stockbrook (while the Road is well north of it). Hope that was of some help.

Edit: I'm kind of tired and didn't quite understand what you meant, now I think I do. But in the quote you gave us Frodo says plainly that the way for them is the lane towards Woodhall, doesn't he? Pippin though he was a bit crazy taking that route, and he wanted that pint at Stock but the company certainly took the lane nevertheless.
"The sun had gone down behind the hills at their backs, and evening was coming on before they came back to the road as the end of the long level over which it had run straight for some miles. At that point it bent left and went down in to the lowlands of the Yale making for Stock; but a lane branched right, winding through a wood of ancient oak-trees on its way to Woodhall. 'That is the way for us,' said Frodo."
That's true but if memory serves, Frodo does not come up with his short cut plan until after they meet Gildor and go for an un-planned hike way up into the hills with the Elves.

When the Hobbits come to that fork in the road, they make that turn (left or right) without knowing that they will meet the Elves in a little while.

Edit: Oh, I see what you're saying. Perhaps Frodo altered his course because of the first encounter with the Black Rider? That's interesting; I have never considered that before. I will have to go back and look at the text again and see if there are any hints of this theory.

Last edited by Marlowe221; 09-16-2014 at 08:46 AM.
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Old 09-15-2014, 11:14 PM   #4
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This is a very interesting thread, and when I have more time, I will certainly go back and read through those chapters and give my opinion.
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Old 09-16-2014, 10:11 AM   #5
skip spence
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Edit: Oh, I see what you're saying. Perhaps Frodo altered his course because of the first encounter with the Black Rider? That's interesting; I have never considered that before. I will have to go back and look at the text again and see if there are any hints of this theory.
Yep that's what I meant. Mind you, I'm going by memory here but that seems about right to me.
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Old 09-17-2014, 02:36 PM   #6
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Pipe

After seeing the black rider, Frodo and Sam are uneasy and make more of an effort at concealment. "They kept now a stone's throw to the left of the road, and kept out of sight as much as they could." This is naturally harder going than walking on the road, so it's only natural that at a fork Frodo would choose the less travelled path as it offered more chance of concealment. Any pursuit would be more likely on the road to Stock.

After they fall in with Gildor, the company travel with him to "the woods on the hills above Woodhall", which leaves the whole company the following morning some half-way between the road and the Stockbrook. Pippin obviously expects them to head back to the road, but Frodo's plan is to cut directly across country to the ferry, as I suspect he had already intended before meeting Gildor. Pippin isn't to know what Frodo intends, though, and it's clear that he still isn't as concerned as his companions from the fact that he's still talking about pubs and beer. To him this is a simple walking party, whereas Frodo and Sam - who are older and wiser - have begun to realise that they're in danger. Hence the only mistake is Pippin's of imagining that Frodo would decide to rejoin the road so that he could follow the CAMRA trail.

The map of the Shire is, indeed, the work of Christopher Tolkien. In the first edition you can see his initials at the bottom left of its title box. This is not a sign of potential inaccuracy: CRT has a good eye for inconsistencies and was no doubt asked to draw the maps because he's good at it. There was plenty of time between the completion of the LR narrative and publication (a manuscript version was in existence in 1949) for father and son to talk at length about all the maps to be included. While there may be some mistakes, completely misdirecting an entire road would be a big enough one to warrant paternal admonishment.
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Old 11-17-2014, 06:50 PM   #7
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If they had followed the Stock Brook all the way the morning after meeting Gildor they would have ended up much closer to the Ferry. They would then have had a choice of the Ferry or the Hay Gate. But the downsides were being possibly more exposed to the Black Riders and/or being delayed in the Golden Perch in Stock.
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Old 11-23-2014, 04:49 PM   #8
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CRT's maps were based on originals by JRRT; unfortunately since the originals were 'working maps' they had been much corrected, erased, overdrawn and smudged, so CRT at times misinterpreted what he was copying.

He discusses the LR maps at some length in HME.

------------------

In The Scouring of the Shire, Pippin volunteers to ride "over the fields" to Tuckborough from Bywater, implying that there is no direct road.
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