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Old 01-05-2013, 11:05 AM   #1
The Squatter of Amon Rdh
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Pipe Fattest of the Dwarves

It may not have been mentioned very often, so it's probably worth pointing out that fat Bombur, the fattest of the Dwarves, was immensely fat. From his enormous fatness (which caused him to be known as Fat Bombur) derives the humour of his being rather fat and unfit; always falling on top of other characters or needing to be carried; and always thinking, talking or dreaming about food. This is, of course, the only thing that fat people ever do, which makes it hilariously funny; and this is why Bombur (who as you may recall was somewhat portly) is so side-splittingly hilarious.

Why am I bringing this up now? Well, apparently there are still those who don't think that Tolkien rather labours the point that Bombur was fat. I have therefore looked up every reference to Bombur in The Hobbit, and will proceed to share them all with you, after which you too will be able to share in the bottomless well of cheap laughs that is a Bombur Fatty McFatfat sentence. Page references are from the George Allen and Unwin fourth edition hardback.

Bombur is first mentioned on page 18, arriving at Bag End with Thorin, Bifur and Bofur:
Quote:
This last [hood] belonged to Thorin, an enormously important dwarf, in fact no other than the great Thorin Oakenshield himself, who was not at all pleased at falling flat on Bilbo's mat with Bifur, Bofur and Bombur on top of him. For one thing Bombur was immensely fat and heavy.
Two pages later Bombur is mentioned to have produced a drum, after which no attention is paid him for twenty pages. In Roast Mutton he and Bifur are said to have "fought like mad, as dwarves will when cornered." (p. 40) At his next mention, however, he returns to corpulent form.

Quote:
'Why O why did I ever leave my hobbit-hole!' said poor Mr Baggins bumping up and down on Bombur's back.
Why, O why did I ever bring a wretched little hobbit on a treasure hunt!' said poor Bombur, who was fat, and staggered along with the sweat dripping down his nose in heat and terror.
As the company approaches Beorn's hall, Gandalf instructs the dwarves to arrive in pairs, finishing rather unkindly with the following (p.104).
Quote:
Bombur is fattest and will do for two, he had better come alone and last.
A few pages later, Bombur arrives:

Quote:
In came Bifur and Bofur. 'And me!' gasped Bombur puffing up behind. He was fat, and also angry at being left till last. He refused to wait five minutes, and followed immediately after the other two.
Crossing the enchanted stream in Flies and Spiders, Bombur is again appointed as tail-end Charlie, at which he protests (p. 126).

Quote:
'I'm always last and I don't like it,' said Bombur. 'It's somebody else's turn today.'
'You should not be so fat. As you are, you must be with the last and lightest boatload. Don't start grumbling against orders, or something bad will happen to you.'
This last pep-talk presumably comes from Thorin, whose innovative leadership style is already manifesting itself.

After he has fallen into the stream and been duly recovered by his companions, they indulge in some general reported grumbling about his clumsiness (unfair, given that he has been all-but knocked down by a leaping hart), and when he is again mentioned a couple of paragraphs later (p. 127) it is with yet another comment about his weight.
Quote:
Bombur slept on with a smile on his fat face, as if he no longer cared for all the troubles that vexed them.
On the next page, the point is driven home once more.

Quote:
...they were burdened by the heavy body of Bombur, which they had to carry along with them as best they could, taking the wearisome task in turns of four each while the others shared their packs. If these had not become all too light in the last few days, they would never have managed it; but a slumbering and smiling Bombur was a poor exchange for packs filled with food however heavy.
After a brief reference to the fact that he's still asleep on p. 129, Bombur finally awakens at p.130-1, predictably thinking about food.

Quote:
He could not make out where he was at all, or why he felt so hungry; for he had forgotten everything that had happened since they started their journey that May morning long ago. The last thing that he remembered was the party at the hobbit's house, and they had great difficulty in making him believe their tale of all the many adventures they had had since. When he heard that there was nothing to eat, he sat down and wept, for he felt very weak and wobbly in the legs. 'Why ever did I wake up!' he cried. 'I was having such beautiful dreams. I dreamed I was walking in a forest rather like this one, only lit with torches on the trees and lamps swinging from the branches and fires burning on the ground; and there was a great feast going on on, going on for ever. A woodland king was there with a crown of leaves, and there was a merry singing, and I could not count or describe the things there were to eat and drink.'
Thorin's testy reply to this concludes with "...you are no joke to carry even after weeks of short commons," but Bombur somehow fails to take the hint and continues to complain. At last he stops dead in his tracks and petulantly announces his intention to go back to sleep.

Quote:
All the same he suddenly refused to go a step further and flung himself on the ground. 'Go on, if you must,' he said. 'I'm just going to lie here and sleep and dream of food, if I can't get it any other way. I hope I never wake up again.' (p.133)
Later on the page, when Bilbo is found sleeping, his first talk is of dinner, at which his companions announce that he has "gone like Bombur," the first glimmer of a suggestion that the Elven magic might be causing all this somnolent feasting, and still later the Elven king is "very much as Bombur had described." The next reference to the Billy Bunter of Erebor is, however, another fat jibe.

Quote:
To the fattest of these bundles the spider went - 'It is poor old Bombur, I'll bet,' thought Bilbo - and nipped hard at the nose that stuck out. There was a muffled yelp inside, and a toe shot up and kicked the spider straight and hard. There was life in Bombur still.
Bombur's weight is again mentioned after the battle with the spiders (p. 140).

Quote:
Poor old Bombur was so exhausted - he was the fattest and had been constantly pinched and poked - that he just rolled off the branch and fell plop on to the ground, fortunately on to leaves, and lay there.
Having not been mentioned at all in the intervening pages, Bombur crops up again in A Warm Welcome, being removed from his barrel (p. 167): "Poor fat Bombur was asleep or senseless," after which he disappears again until the company is climbing up to its last camp on the Lonely Mountain in On the Doorstep. In an innovative new twist, here it is Bombur who complains about his size (p. 178).

Quote:
Bombur would not come up either the rope or the path.

'I am too fat for such fly-walks,' he said 'I should turn dizzy and tread on my beard, and then you would be thirteen again. And the knotted ropes are too slender for my weight.' Luckily for him that was not true, as you will see.
This looks very much to me like someone whose self-respect has been repeatedly undermined by incessant references to his weight problem. It calls up a frankly tragic image of poor Bombur eating a pork pie in the dark and crying, like a sad, fat dragon with no friends. See? It's not so funny now, is it, Ronald, you heartless swine? Maybe now everyone will show Bombur a bit of respect and support. Or more likely they won't.

In the following chapter, Bofur and Bombur are trapped in the valley as an enraged Smaug approaches (p. 187).

Quote:
Up came Bofur and all was safe. Up came Bombur, puffing and blowing while the ropes creaked, and still all was safe. Up came some tools and bundles of stores, and then the danger was upon them.
The more perceptive among you may have noticed that here Bombur is out of breath as usual and his weight is straining the ropes. This is because Bombur is, as may have been mentioned, the fattest dwarf, and therefore very heavy.

Bombur goes unmentioned again until p. 206 (Not at Home), where his comment on their situation is predictably of a gastronomic nature.

Quote:
'It's a cold, lonesome place,' said Bombur. 'There may be drink, but I see no sign of food. A dragon would always be hungry in such parts'
When Bilbo sneaks out with the Arkenstone, it's Bombur who's on watch. Amazingly he manages four whole sentences without mentioning eating, but then ruins it all by saying "I would give a good deal for the feel of a strong drink in my throat, and for a soft bed after a good supper!" Tolkien further says of Bombur that "he could sleep at any time, and ever since the adventure in the forest he was always trying to recapture the beautiful dreams he had then."

From then on, apart from being woken up as Bilbo keeps his promise to wake him at midnight, Bombur receives no significant mention. He survives the Battle of Five Armies (suggesting more martial prowess than his description thus far would appear to merit) and is much later encountered in LR, described by Glin as being too fat to walk to the table unaided and requiring the efforts of six young dwarves to share the load of carrying him.

Bombur appears or is mentioned The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings on twenty-three occasions, and on seventeen of those he is either described as being fat, talking or dreaming about food, or causing trouble by being too heavy. When he's not being hilariously fat he's being clumsy and oafish: falling over on Thorin, falling into the enchanted water or imagining a pratfall to his death on the Lonely Mountain. Were it not for his performance in the battle against the trolls and his assault on the spider it would be difficult to see what Thorin saw in him as a companion. Perhaps he was another of Gandalf's choices, or perhaps it was a case of nepotism. It does seem rather unfair, though, to drag him all over creation and drop him into all sorts of horrible situations for what threadbare scraps of amusement arise from so doing.

Rather more amusement can be derived from parodying Tolkien's use of Bombur, so I shall conclude by doing so once again.

Since Bombur was the fattest dwarf, being immensely fat, round, corpulent and morbidly obese, he was often known as 'Fat Bombur' or 'Bombur the Fat', by virtue of his enormous girth, fat face and the fact that he was really quite fat. He was immensely fond of pork pies, because that's what fat people eat; but he would eat them with salad in the belief that this would make them less fattening, because that's another thing that amusingly fat people do. As I may have mentioned, Bombur "of the Nine Bellies" was a bit of a porker, and repeatedly did amusing things that are quite typical of fat people in general, like complaining about small portions, falling over and generally being fatter than everyone else in a profitless and non-practical way. Also he was fat, which I'm not sure I mentioned before.

Did I mention earlier that our Tolkien conversations in Finland weren't often very high in the brow?
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Last edited by The Squatter of Amon Rdh : 01-06-2013 at 03:46 PM. Reason: I misquoted Kryten, which would never do
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Old 01-05-2013, 11:31 AM   #2
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Makes me wonder if instead of counting calories, dwarves count bomburs? bomburies? bombalories? And how would they measure it? You burn food to measure the calories of course, but can't exactly burn Bombur.
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Old 01-05-2013, 12:08 PM   #3
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Pipe

Dwarves don't need to measure calorific content because all of their food is inside Bombur, causing him to break furniture hilariously. They just weigh him and divide the result by the number of things missing from the larder.
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Old 01-05-2013, 12:19 PM   #4
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Maybe they took him along as..well bait isn't quite the right word ... more a last ditch diversionary tactic like when in the Big Bang Theory the physicists upset someone who threatens violence and Sheldon tells Leonard as they flee that he doesn't need to outrun their pursuer only leonard.
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Old 01-05-2013, 12:33 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by The Squatter of Amon Rdh View Post
Two pages later Bombur is mentioned to have produced a drum, after which no attention is paid him for twenty pages.
On absolutely serious note, I have been always wondering whether the choice of instrument had something to do with him being fat. You know, a drum is round, makes the sort of deep sound, so in general the connotations might sort of go together... what do you think?

Quote:
After he has fallen into the stream and been duly recovered by his companions, they indulge in some general reported grumbling about his clumsiness (unfair, given that he has been all-but knocked down by a leaping hart)
This is actually one interesting thing. Since he is so fat, he must be pretty difficult to knock down. If Tolkien wanted it to be really hilarious, he might have let the hart be knocked out by knocking Bombur. But it simply ran him over - so is it actually possible that the poor animal was, in fact, even fatter than Bombur? Remember, in the utter darkness of Mirkwood, it's hard to tell how fat an animal is.

Quote:
In an innovative new twist, here it is Bombur who complains about his size (p. 178).

This looks very much to me like someone whose self-respect has been repeatedly undermined by incessant references to his weight problem. It calls up a frankly tragic image of poor Bombur eating a pork pie in the dark and crying, like a sad, fat dragon with no friends
Indeed. This really seems like the moment when Bombur, who up to now had no reason to call himself fat, finally gives in, his will is utterly broken and he admits to being fat. If we are talking about character development - Bilbo becoming braver, the Dwarves becoming more appreciative of him and so on - here is a different way of character development, Bombur becoming, not perhaps fatter (even though one might have expected that after what we've seen*), but more conscious about his fatness.

*Of course, that was not possible because of the way the whole story develops. The Dwarves go from comfortable places around the Shire further and further into the wilderness, into more and more dangerous places with less and less resources, so they cannot, unfortunately, grow fatter and fatter, but rather the opposite. However, we can see that Tolkien did not let his dream disappear completely, and led it to an eucatastrophe with the remark in LotR, where Bombur, finally in the place of peace and plenty, has the room to become as fat as he can get.
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Old 01-05-2013, 01:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Legate of Amon Lanc View Post
On absolutely serious note, I have been always wondering whether the choice of instrument had something to do with him being fat. You know, a drum is round, makes the sort of deep sound, so in general the connotations might sort of go together... what do you think?
I forget what were the other instruments...clarinets, flutes, Thorin's harp?

I would think his fingers were too fat to play such instruments, having small keyholes and requiring inhaling/exhaling to play, don't want Bombur to faint from it. And Thorin's string instrument would be too delicate for him. With a drum he could easily pull out and rhythmically bang away.
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Old 01-05-2013, 01:23 PM   #7
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Another thing is that to maintain his weight Bombur must have been snaffling far more than his share of rations when awake since heavier folk burn off more calories walking the same distance and should have lost weight even when unconscious. I don't care how big boned or slow metabolised he is.
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Old 01-05-2013, 01:51 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Legate of Amon Lanc View Post
On absolutely serious note, I have been always wondering whether the choice of instrument had something to do with him being fat. You know, a drum is round, makes the sort of deep sound, so in general the connotations might sort of go together... what do you think?
I had a similar thought when studying the first chapter of The Hobbit for Music in Middle-earth, but I found an interesting bit of information in The History of the Hobbit:
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Rateliff
'bombur' means drum in Old Norse
Tolkien must certainly have known that and I assume he used the name deliberately.

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Originally Posted by Boromir88 View Post
I forget what were the other instruments...clarinets, flutes, Thorin's harp?
Yes, and fiddles and viols as well.

Also, playing the drum need not have indicated clumsiness - he would actually have been the one responsible for keeping time so that all musicians would stay together.
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Old 01-05-2013, 01:57 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Estelyn Telcontar View Post
I had a similar thought when studying the first chapter of The Hobbit for Music in Middle-earth, but I found an interesting bit of information in The History of the Hobbit:

Tolkien must certainly have known that and I assume he used the name deliberately.
Whoa! Nice one. Well, that makes it clear, then. Not surprising from Tolkien.

Quote:
Also, playing the drum need not have indicated clumsiness - he would actually have been the one responsible for keeping time so that all musicians would stay together.
Of course. Drum, and drummers, are often underrated in the mind of a common, not specifically musically educated person, though of course they are of utmost importance and it is also nothing simple to play a drum, and a skilled drummer can do things many could dream of... But I think still, in the eyes of many, the simple association of drum with something is such one as "the drummer is unimportant, lazy guy sitting in the background and beating one thing repeatedly".
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Old 01-05-2013, 02:03 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Legate of Amon Lanc View Post
On absolutely serious note, I have been always wondering whether the choice of instrument had something to do with him being fat. You know, a drum is round, makes the sort of deep sound, so in general the connotations might sort of go together... what do you think?
It practically jumps out of the page at me. However, Esty has a better reason for it. In addition to Rateliff, Hammond and Scull point out in their reader's companion to LR (p. 208) that in Old Norse, bumba means 'drum'. Perhaps his name is related - meaning 'drummer', for example - but I haven't been able to confirm that.

Quote:
This is actually one interesting thing. Since he is so fat, he must be pretty difficult to knock down. If Tolkien wanted it to be really hilarious, he might have let the hart be knocked out by knocking Bombur. But it simply ran him over - so is it actually possible that the poor animal was, in fact, even fatter than Bombur? Remember, in the utter darkness of Mirkwood, it's hard to tell how fat an animal is.
I did say "all-but knocked down". The hart clears Bombur, but the shock of it makes him lose his balance. However, it's possible that it was rather an unfit hart, which would make it slower and easier for Thorin to shoot in a hurry. This would reinforce the opinion that Tolkien objected to the obese in more general terms. It would indeed have been much funnier if the hart had run into Bombur and fallen down stunned, but then Thorin would have been less epic, which would have annoyed Aganzir and spelled doom for us all.

Quote:
If we are talking about character development - Bilbo becoming braver, the Dwarves becoming more appreciative of him and so on - here is a different way of character development, Bombur becoming, not perhaps fatter (even though one might have expected that after what we've seen*), but more conscious about his fatness.
I differ from many of my contemporaries in not equating expansion with development. I think that Bombur, though a brave and undoubtedly fearsome dwarf, suffered from serious self-image problems that only manifest themselves here after a welter of snide remarks from authority figures like Gandalf and Thorin.

Quote:
However, we can see that Tolkien did not let his dream disappear completely, and led it to an eucatastrophe with the remark in LotR, where Bombur, finally in the place of peace and plenty, has the room to become as fat as he can get.
Perhaps at last by the time of FR, Bombur has come to terms with himself and decided to reject society's pressure on him to conform to a slim and agile body type. I like to think that this is what happened, but I fear it could be otherwise.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mithalwen
Maybe they took him along as..well bait isn't quite the right word ... more a last ditch diversionary tactic
This is the best explanation so far and by far the most likely. Anything that just wanted a meal would be content with catching Bombur.
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Old 01-06-2013, 04:11 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Squatter
I did say "all-but knocked down". The hart clears Bombur, but the shock of it makes him lose his balance. However, it's possible that it was rather an unfit hart, which would make it slower and easier for Thorin to shoot in a hurry.
This may be getting OT, but it seems unlikely that a wild hart, particularly one living in so inhospitable an environment as Mirkwood, would have much opportunity to become fat and unfit. Is it possible, then, that the beast was in fact a tame one, a member of a herd of pampered, overfed deer kept by the Wood Elves and released whenever the King and his courtiers felt like playing at "hunting"?
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:28 AM   #12
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Searching the History of the Hobbit forsomething about Radagast I have fpound the appendix on dwarf names Bomburr in the Voluspa is translated as tubby.
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Old 01-13-2013, 12:50 PM   #13
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1420! This is too funny

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Originally Posted by Legate of Amon Lanc View Post
If Tolkien wanted it to be really hilarious, he might have let the hart be knocked out by knocking Bombur. But it simply ran him over - so is it actually possible that the poor animal was, in fact, even fatter than Bombur?
---
If we are talking about character development - Bilbo becoming braver, the Dwarves becoming more appreciative of him and so on - here is a different way of character development, Bombur becoming, not perhaps fatter (even though one might have expected that after what we've seen*), but more conscious about his fatness.
---
However, we can see that Tolkien did not let his dream disappear completely, and led it to an eucatastrophe with the remark in LotR, where Bombur, finally in the place of peace and plenty, has the room to become as fat as he can get.
Consider yourself repped till I've been to eight more people's scales.

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Originally Posted by Boromir88 View Post
I would think his fingers were too fat to play such instruments, having small keyholes and requiring inhaling/exhaling to play, don't want Bombur to faint from it.
But then, many opera singers (who obviously have huge lungs) are fat too!
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Old 01-13-2013, 01:19 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Aganzir View Post
But then, many opera singers (who obviously have huge lungs) are fat too!
He can play the tuba!
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Old 01-13-2013, 01:39 PM   #15
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But then, many opera singers (who obviously have huge lungs) are fat too!
Careful now, or Katherine Jenkins and Alfie Boe will be on your case

What I like best about Bombur is that his existence means they have made a unique Lego minifigure that has a little belly as an accessory you can attach. Course this means Bombur can go on a miracle diet, or you can also make Fili and Kili (or any of the policemen in Lego City, or well, any minifigure...) look pregnant.
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Old 01-13-2013, 02:13 PM   #16
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Careful now, or Katherine Jenkins and Alfie Boe will be on your case
Hey hey I said some, not all!

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or you can also make Fili and Kili (or any of the policemen in Lego City, or well, any minifigure...) look pregnant.
This is amazing. I may have to get some Hobbit Lego figures now, just to prove what Thorin's penetrating gaze can do to the unwary.
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Old 01-14-2013, 04:04 PM   #17
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But then, many opera singers (who obviously have huge lungs) are fat too!


Really not so true these days since they are required to act rather than just stand and deliver, of course there isn't the same pressure as on actresses to be abnormally thin since the prerequisite is to be able to sing the role. They wouldnt tolerate someone eandering off mid duet for a glass of water like Pavarotti. And I hate to think what would have happened if Pavarotti had tried this
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQeX...e_gdata_player
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Old 01-14-2013, 04:13 PM   #18
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in a profitless and non-practical way
I detect a Red Dwarf reference! I suppose once he got hot and bothered after all that running and danger Bombur was at risk of becoming a red dwarf himself.
I've always been rather bemused by how many times the Professor feels the need to remind us that Bombur was fat.
Is it worth mentioning, however, the notion in the 1960 Hobbit that Bombur and his brother and cousin were Thorin's "attendants"? I've always had the impression that these three who were not of Durin's Line (and therefore seemingly a bit more "common" and "working class" than the majority of the company) were potentially present in something of a more professional capacity. Perhaps this can explain why Bombur was present despite the fact that, as Professor Tolkien is eager to remind us, he was fat.
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Old 01-14-2013, 05:07 PM   #19
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This is amazing. I may have to get some Hobbit Lego figures now, just to prove what Thorin's penetrating gaze can do to the unwary.
I now have some unsavoury ideas of things to do with Lego and davem's stop-motion film camera android app thingie...

Quote:
Really not so true these days since they are required to act rather than just stand and deliver, of course there isn't the same pressure as on actresses to be abnormally thin since the prerequisite is to be able to sing the role. They wouldnt tolerate someone eandering off mid duet for a glass of water like Pavarotti. And I hate to think what would have happened if Pavarotti had tried this
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQeX...e_gdata_player
And you need something to stick to your ribs if you're going to stick out one of Wagner's epics. More than a bowl of watercress soup! And that's just the audience
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Old 01-14-2013, 06:40 PM   #20
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Well, as a great Wagnerian responded when asked what was the secret to singing Wagner, comfortable shoes
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Old 01-15-2013, 07:04 AM   #21
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Really not so true these days since they are required to act rather than just stand and deliver
Fair enough. I was just trying to disprove Boro's point about Bombur's size leading to his incapability to breathe well enough to play a wind instrument.

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Is it worth mentioning, however, the notion in the 1960 Hobbit that Bombur and his brother and cousin were Thorin's "attendants"? I've always had the impression that these three who were not of Durin's Line (and therefore seemingly a bit more "common" and "working class" than the majority of the company) were potentially present in something of a more professional capacity.
You're quite right - Bifur, Bofur and Bombur were descended from the dwarves of Moria. I wasn't aware of that addition before - do you have the exact quote anywhere? Also, as I believe Squatter mentioned, he and Bifur (and Thorin) were the only dwarves who managed to fight the trolls even a little bit, and he also caused some damage to the spider that tried to eat him.

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I now have some unsavoury ideas of things to do with Lego and davem's stop-motion film camera android app thingie...
Please. Do.
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Old 01-15-2013, 07:58 AM   #22
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Well, apparently there are still those who don't think that Tolkien rather labours the point that Bombur was fat.
One of 'those' in question would be me I reckon

Well, I may argue that for the 19 chapters worth of story for [younger] children that's not that much (but I actually won't, let it stand)

I have another point to make (as I've pondered the issue the very day I raised my doubts with regards multitude of instances of mentioning Bombur as fat. For it seems to me it's well-reasoned (as I've mentioned in my comment to Squatter's post on FB) - based on my own experience of bedtime reading to my kids - you have to constantly remind them about certain facts - even if they do seem already well established to yourself - so I see the reason of constantly stressing that particular fat guy's fat

(I'm reading (or re-reading rather, for 10th time on end it seems now) Roverandom currently to my elder kid, so we are repeatedly rehearsing which of the Rovers is the oldest, and what dreams Man-on-the-Moon makes and on and on and on )
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Old 01-16-2013, 10:51 AM   #23
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I now have some unsavoury ideas of things to do with Lego and davem's stop-motion film camera android app thingie...
How much custard does it involve?
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Old 01-20-2013, 04:59 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwend
I now have some unsavoury ideas of things to do with Lego and davem's stop-motion film camera android app thingie
It's now very important that the most unsavoury of these becomes film as soon as possible. It's nice to see these moots continue to spawn inappropriate art projects weeks after they end.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zigr
I detect a Red Dwarf reference!
I like to refer to popular culture occasionally to dispel rumours that I am a stuffy old fuddy-duddy who has done several crosswords too many.

As Aganzir pointed out, Bombur is one of the few dwarves to put up a decent fight anywhere on their adventures, so there's probably a bit more to him than appears on the surface. Given that Thorin is reasonably intelligent, I would guess that an ability to fold hoods or make soup would not be a sole requirement for members of his company. I never picked up any class distinctions between the dwarves in The Hobbit other than Thorin's status as the leader, and as John Rateliff mentions in The History of the Hobbit, here 'attendants' is more likely to mean courtiers or an honour guard - hardly traditionally working-class occupations. Of course, even using terms like 'working class' suggests an anachronistic social structure: Thorin and his companions form something more like a comitatus, which would normally suggest a similar status for all, much as Thorin's company appears on the page.

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Originally Posted by Heren Istarion
I have another point to make (as I've pondered the issue the very day I raised my doubts with regards multitude of instances of mentioning Bombur as fat. For it seems to me it's well-reasoned (as I've mentioned in my comment to Squatter's post on FB) - based on my own experience of bedtime reading to my kids - you have to constantly remind them about certain facts - even if they do seem already well established to yourself - so I see the reason of constantly stressing that particular fat guy's fat
This is a good point, but it's still very striking that almost every time Bombur appears his fatness is singled out for special mention. I think that Tolkien overdoes it, but I have less experience than he (or you) in reading stories to children. It's a good explanation, but that doesn't detract from the humour to be derived from saying that fat Bombur, who was stout for a dwarf and even inclined to be somewhat tubby, was sometimes regarded by his companions as being a little overweight.

Interestingly enough, I was reading The Hobbit this week and found another reference to Bombur that I missed before. It comes as the party has just descended the loose scree in Out of the frying-pan and into the fire (p. 88 of my edition).

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'Well, that has got us on a bit,' said Gandalf; 'and even goblins tracking us will have a job to come down here quietly.'
'I daresay,' grumbled Bombur; 'but they won't find it difficult to send stones bouncing down on our heads.'
Although here we have Bombur engaging in his usual role of grumbler, I note that here there is no mention either of food or his weight. Also he makes a valid tactical observation, which does slightly deflate my original contention that his only purpose is to supply comic relief of the bumbling, oafish variety. Never mind, though: there are still a lot of mentions of the poor chap's waistline.
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Old 01-21-2013, 06:57 PM   #25
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I never picked up any class distinctions between the dwarves in The Hobbit other than Thorin's status as the leader, and as John Rateliff mentions in The History of the Hobbit, here 'attendants' is more likely to mean courtiers or an honour guard - hardly traditionally working-class occupations. Of course, even using terms like 'working class' suggests an anachronistic social structure: Thorin and his companions form something more like a comitatus, which would normally suggest a similar status for all, much as Thorin's company appears on the page.
All I meant to suggest was that if Bifur, Bofur and Bombur were Thorin's courtiers or honour guard, and given that they were "descended from the Dwarves of Moria but were not of Durin's line", so presumably not members of the nobility, I was prone to speculate that their presence in the company possibly had a more direct purpose, ie a specific personal duty to Thorin in their capacity as "attendants". I do not mean to say that their status within the company was any less, or indeed that the other Dwarves had any less duty to Thorin either, just that there might be a difference in meaning between the presence of Thorin's close relatives in the company and these attendants. Given how little we know of Dwarven social structure, though, that is of course pure speculation on my part, and is perhaps a touch of over-analysis symptomatic of trying too hard to read the more serious accounts of things in the Appendices and the revision in relation to the humorous derring-do of the published version of The Hobbit.
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Old 01-23-2013, 04:01 PM   #26
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How much custard does it involve?
Oooh, I could also involve pudding in my unsavoury animations! Stand back, EL James, I'm here and I have custard and Lego!
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Old 01-31-2013, 11:41 AM   #27
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Sting Fat but ferocious!

While I laughed at Bombur when first reading The Hobbit, I was impressed even then at how he, and all the other dwarves, turned from merchants into ferocious fighters at the Battle of Five Armies:

Out leapt the King under the Mountain, and his companions followed him.
Hood and cloak were gone; they were in shining armour, and red light
leapt from their eyes. In the gloom the great dwarf gleamed like gold in a
dying fire....Wolf and rider fell or fled before them.


Go Bombur! I was also impressed that there was armour among the hoard that could fit such a fat dwarf.
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Old 01-31-2013, 05:57 PM   #28
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Go Bombur! I was also impressed that there was armour among the hoard that could fit such a fat dwarf.
Indeed. Given everything that's been said above, I'm surprised Tolkien didn't make the point of "and so the Dwarves armed themselves, because the armories of the former King Under the Mountain contained a host of armours, even one big enough for Bombur..."
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