The Bigger Reason We Enjoy the Shire
by John Pletcher

Brilliant flowers. Colorful fruits and vegetables. Impressive rocks.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, three gorgeous gardens graced my grandparents’ backyard. In the center of their fenced lawn stood a young, flourishing tree. As children of summertime, my cousins and I romped our way into every manner of adventure in their yard. We climbed the tree, played cutthroat wiffleball, and built forts. Those hot lazy days now supply idyllic memories, the sort of summers when it seemed like time stood still. My grandparents’ backyard was amazing.

Out in Tolkien’s tremendous story yard, we encounter the beautiful, famous hobbit-hole, deliberately placed in a similarly vivacious realm. In opening pages of The Hobbit, Tolkien described Bilbo’s splendid house: “The best rooms were all on the left-hand side (going in), for these were the only ones to have windows, deep-set round windows looking over his garden, and meadows beyond, sloping down to the river.” With such description, Tolkien intentionally invites us to see through the hobbit’s window and gain a hobbit’s view.

Don’t miss it. Tolkien planted a beautiful garden . . .

[1] Tom Shippey. J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century, 59-60.
[2] The Fellowship of the Ring, 19.
[3] Ibid., 41.
[4] Hobbits, Elves, and Wizards: Exploring the Wonders and Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, 22. [5] On Fairy-stories, 67.
[6] Ibid., 69.
[7] Letters, 235.
[8] J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, 180.
[9] Letters, 288.
[10] Letters, 239.
[11] Ibid., 110.
[12] Tolkien’s Theology of Beauty, 33.
[13] The Silmarillion, 8.
[14] Ibid., 11-12.
[15] Ibid., 28-29.
[16] The Return of the King, 306.
[17] Ibid., 316.
[18] Ibid., 330
[19] The Silmarillion, 30.
[20] Coutras, 77-78.
[21] The Return of the King, 337-39.
[22] Shippey, 219-221.
[23] Coutras, 79-80, analyzing J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth,” in Morgoth’s Ring, 316-318.
[24] Wood. The Gospel According to Tolkien: Visions of the Kingdom in Middle-earth, 160-161.
[25] For additional insights on Tolkien’s treatment of death and immortality, see Dan Cruver’s article of March 25, 2020 at “J.R.R. Tolkien’s Redemptive Signature.”

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