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Old 06-12-2013, 06:01 AM   #1
Alfirin
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Of Hobbits and Boots

Hi all

In the Annotated Hobbit when commenting on the illustration of Bilbo facing Smaug Tolkien makes mention of an otherwise obscure fact; that, while in Rivendell, Bilbo was fitted with a pair of boots, but left them behind when he passed throgh Rivendell again on his way home after his adventure, presumably by choice (I cannot think of any good reason why the Elves would compell him to return boots they had made specifically for him. Especially as Bilbo's foot measurments would likey be so out of the norm for elves as to make his boots unwearable by anyone else in Rivendell!).
My question is as follows, if one assumes that this statement is canon (and, as it is by Tolkien himself and not contradicated by anything else Tolkine said, I see no reason why it should not be considered so) was the same courtesty extended to Frodo, Sam and the other hobbits when they were being prepped for the Fellowship's journey? It seems to me it would. There would have been plenty of time (it would be a matter of a few hours to take the Hobbit's foot measurments and make the lasts, a week or two at most to put the four pairs of boots together) and they would have likey been considered a good idea (if the Dwarves journey was considered sufficient to justify booting a hobbit, the Fellowship's which was going to be far longer and more arduous would certainly have been so.)
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Old 06-12-2013, 07:24 AM   #2
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Boots

Maybe it wasn't because Bilbo returned his and hobbits didn't like shoes very much.
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Old 06-12-2013, 07:37 AM   #3
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Tolkien's statement [from a letter but noted in the Annotated Hobbit] is curious here, as there is seemingly no [surviving?] reference to this booting in the drafts, now that we have The History of The Hobbit in print... but as you note, in any case Bilbo is booted in illustrations made by JRRT himself.

As for The Lord of the Rings, can we find some later reference[s) to Hobbit feet that would suggest no bootings for Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin?

I can't recall any at the moment, but it's a relatively long tale. It is noted [I think] that some Stoors wore boots in muddy weather, so in general it's not like no Hobbits ever wore boots.
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Old 06-12-2013, 07:56 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Galin View Post
As for The Lord of the Rings, can we find some later reference[s) to Hobbit feet that would suggest no bootings for Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin?

I can't recall any at the moment, but it's a relatively long tale. It is noted [I think] that some Stoors wore boots in muddy weather, so in general it's not like no Hobbits ever wore boots.
I don't remember any references in LOTR to any of the hobbits ever wearing any footwear.
That said, I've always wondered just how they got along barefoot in the snow while climbing to the Redhorn Gate.
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Old 06-12-2013, 09:00 AM   #5
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I actually meant: are there any references to suggest that the Hobbits in The Lord of the Rings are not wearing boots, or something, after Imladris... in other words, to set against the possibility that they might have been booted [as Bilbo in his tale] although the texts do not certainly refer to boots [as in The Hobbit I think].

Like a description of Sam looking at his toes... or something like that maybe
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Old 06-12-2013, 09:42 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Galin View Post
I actually meant: are there any references to suggest that the Hobbits in The Lord of the Rings are not wearing boots, or something, after Imladris... in other words, to set against the possibility that they might have been booted [as Bilbo in his tale] although the texts do not certainly refer to boots [as in The Hobbit I think].

Like a description of Sam looking at his toes... or something like that maybe
Right. However, since barefoot was the default state for hobbits. I would think that a presence of footwear would have been more noteworthy than the lack thereof, especially since the "authors" of LOTR were ostensibly hobbits themselves.

I do note that when Frodo and Sam were dressing as orcs at Cirith Ungol, there is no mention of either putting on any orc-boots or shoes.
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Old 06-12-2013, 12:39 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Ring Goes South
A great sleepiness came over Frodo; he felt himself sinking fast into a warm and hazy dream. He thought a fire was heating his toes...
Now he could also imagine the fire if he had shoes on, but the following implies they were barefoot:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Legolas, The Ring Goes South
And on the other side the snow suddenly grows less, while further down it is no more than a white coverlet to cool a hobbit's toes.
It's obvious that Tolkien never walked barefoot in snow though. It's incredibly cold, and if the snow is hard at all, two steps might scratch bleeding cuts on your feet.
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Old 06-12-2013, 01:29 PM   #8
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I was thinking there was something in the books about this subject, and I found a reference. When the Three Hunters were following the Uruk-hai, hoping to rescue Merry and Pippin, Aragorn spies hobbit prints.

Quote:
[Aragorn] ran quickly to the right, away from the main trail; for he had seen footprints that went that way, branching off from the others, the marks of small, unshod, feet.
TTT The Riders of Rohan

So, unless the Orcs had some use of their own for hobbit-sized boots, I think we can say that those in the Fellowship were barefoot.

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Originally Posted by Aganzir View Post
It's obvious that Tolkien never walked barefoot in snow though. It's incredibly cold, and if the snow is hard at all, two steps might scratch bleeding cuts on your feet.
I know! Those "natural, leathery soles" must be more like Pirelli radials.
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Old 06-12-2013, 03:17 PM   #9
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Oh yes that too!

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Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
So, unless the Orcs had some use of their own for hobbit-sized boots, I think we can say that those in the Fellowship were barefoot.


Perhaps hobbit feet are like animal feet, the soles being almost like pads and the hair covering the rest of it so thickly they don't feel the cold.
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Old 06-12-2013, 04:28 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
I do note that when Frodo and Sam were dressing as orcs at Cirith Ungol, there is no mention of either putting on any orc-boots or shoes.
Actually, while nothing is said, that point seems the most likey to assume that they do put on footwear for the simple reason orcs do and they are trying to pass for orcs as much as possible. They are already running a risk of being recognized due to having the wrong sort of faces and not exactly the right kind of build; being barefoot when they should be shod would draw addional attention (both from patrols who might get suspicios about why two individuals were running around Gorgoroth barefoot, and from random orcs who might see them as two recently robbed orcs and either try to come and see if they can help (assuming that some orcs have a cerain amount of camaradarie amongst each other, enough to help a fellow soldier in need when convenient) or more likely to see whats left to take from an easy mark.)

And yes it is said that Stoors will wear shoes. However this is noted as odd for a hobbit, and there is a lot of implication that they picked up the habit from living with Men so much (just like the fact some can frow facial hair may indicate the stoors had some Mannish blood in thier population.)
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Old 06-12-2013, 04:44 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Alfirin View Post
Actually, while nothing is said, that point seems the most likey to assume that they do put on footwear for the simple reason orcs do and they are trying to pass for orcs as much as possible. They are already running a risk of being recognized due to having the wrong sort of faces and not exactly the right kind of build; being barefoot when they should be shod would draw addional attention (both from patrols who might get suspicios about why two individuals were running around Gorgoroth barefoot, and from random orcs who might see them as two recently robbed orcs and either try to come and see if they can help (assuming that some orcs have a cerain amount of camaradarie amongst each other, enough to help a fellow soldier in need when convenient) or more likely to see whats left to take from an easy mark.)
In that case, what would be the likelihood of Frodo and Sam coming across shoes or boots small enough to fit them? Orcs were generally smaller than Men, but not hobbit-sized. And outsized footwear is much more difficult to deal with than cloaks or tunics.
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Old 06-12-2013, 05:57 PM   #12
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In that case, what would be the likelihood of Frodo and Sam coming across shoes or boots small enough to fit them? Orcs were generally smaller than Men, but not hobbit-sized. And outsized footwear is much more difficult to deal with than cloaks or tunics.
A valid point. I guess I've always sort of assumed (probably from all the cartoons) that hobbits had big feet for thier stature. If it was mannish footwear I could say they could cinch them in (I've always assumed that, as ME is roughly medieval level in weapons tech, they're more or less medival in clothing tech, which means most "shoes" and boots are really more like leather socks, with buskin like footwear also pretty common (which would simply require tieing the thongs tighter). But the hobnails mentioned in the Rohan chapter lead me to think orc shoes are probably pretty hard soled, similar to the standard Roman soldiers sandal (though possibly with a boot top, since I doubt orcs would leave thier toes exposed.) and those are fixed fit.
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Old 06-12-2013, 08:18 PM   #13
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But there could be different orc boots. There could be some leather underneath and metal on the outside, so they could take out the leather. And it was quite dark - even their faces weren't recognized - no one really bothered looking at their feet. Plus, they had shields to cover those when they sat, and later no one really inspected them...
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Old 06-12-2013, 10:06 PM   #14
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At this point, I think you are getting the events of the story (what actually happend) confused with Frodo and Sam's presumed stratagy (what they thought would likey happen).UIt's not like Frodo and Sam were planning to join up with the orc army, that was just bad luck. The disguises were primarily there for two reasons, so that Frodo would not be walking around Mordor stark naked (rememeber all of his own clothes were either in the packet Shagrat was currently carrying to Barad-Dur or destroyed) and in the hope that it would disguise them from long distance viewers (the eye,Nazgul on fell beasts,and orcs on patrol) It is almost certain Frodo and Sam never planned for thier disguises to hold up to close scutiny; they knew that would be all but impossible. when it did happen, they were just very, very lucky it was when it was dark, it could have just as easily happened in broad daylight at which point they probably would have been sunk. While I still maintain that orcs noticing they were barefoot might have given them away, that was a lesser risk to orcs noticing their barefoot tracks. The former would likey only happen if they let orcs get really really close (which they wouldn't voluntarily); the latter could easily lead to a curios orc patrol actually tracking them.
Though actually, I realize the argument is predicated on two points which are less than certain. One is that the hobbits would leave tracks; given how dry and stony much of Mordor is a lot of it is probably land where one could travel without leaving identifiable footprints. The second is that being barefoot would elicit any notice in the first place. As you point out, the orcs might have several sorts of footwear, so by extension, how do we know wearing footwear at all is a universal orcish trait. we know some orcs wear shoes becuse they find one in Rohan; but for all we know that's a "some orcs" thing "not an "all orcs" thing. Maybe I'm wrong and there are barefoot orcs wandering around too (maybe the scout forces, who would need a little extra agility and stealth that clomping around in iron soled footwear wouldn't provide. Or the sappers, who might mostly travel on the carts and not need high durability marching gear.)
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Old 06-13-2013, 06:18 AM   #15
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Right. However, since barefoot was the default state for hobbits. I would think that a presence of footwear would have been more noteworthy than the lack thereof, especially since the "authors" of LOTR were ostensibly hobbits themselves.
I agree. I was only wondering in consideration of the example of The Hobbit, Bilbo's tale, where he doesn't seem to mention boots in the text (but had them according to Tolkien) -- but still, I would lean to default state, even so.

Anyway, nice find on the citation [Aragorn and so on]; exactly what I was thinking of.


I do think some orcs were at least close to Hobbit size in any event, as a side point.
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Old 07-17-2013, 10:53 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
I don't remember any references in LOTR to any of the hobbits ever wearing any footwear.
That said, I've always wondered just how they got along barefoot in the snow while climbing to the Redhorn Gate.
That´s an interesting Topic. Well I guess they never had cold feet. Maybe like ducks which have a Counter-currant heat Exchange systhem (ha, I always wanted to Quote that!) and so get very well along...

Also anatomical: Maybe there is a reason that they don´t wear boots. Sweaty feet? In that case it would have been catastrophal the Moment Bilbo took his off!
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Old 07-17-2013, 05:44 PM   #17
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That´s an interesting Topic. Well I guess they never had cold feet. Maybe like ducks which have a Counter-currant heat Exchange systhem (ha, I always wanted to Quote that!) and so get very well along...

Also anatomical: Maybe there is a reason that they don´t wear boots. Sweaty feet? In that case it would have been catastrophal the Moment Bilbo took his off!
As for the cold, it's the thick soles again, they'd block the cold. There are groups of people who have no trouble walking barefoot on snow all the time, like some Tibetan ascetics (whose footprints are sometimes cited as a possible "real" origin for yeti tracks.)
As for the sweat thing, it's hard to tell. Thick calluses tend to block the openings of sweat glands so probably not on the soles. But the insteps could have quite a few, and they probably do smell a bit worse than mannish ones (if only because the fur like hair would catch a lot more of the sweat.) Though that would only apply on the trail; at home, I'm sure Hobbits are very careful about making sure their foot fur is well washed.
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