The Hobbit – What Makes a “Good” Story

The Hobbit ends like all good stories do – the good guy wins and he restores that which was broken.  What makes that a good story?  I submit that what is good about it is the fact that it is the paradigm within which all things operate.  It is a paradigm we all recognize and hope for; when we read it, we resonate with it,

In the Reformed tradition of Protestant Christianity, we tend to think of everything through the lens of the Creation-Fall-Redemption-Restoration model.  It is the order of things you find in Scripture: God creates the world, man falls, Christ redeems, and in the end, He makes all things new.  All things, be it fantasy literature, art, music, politics, social networking, etc. fit into this model.  Someone creates them and provides order and structure.  They are fallen, in that sinful man who has sinful motives makes them.  There is hope for redemption for these things because of Christ’s death and resurrection, which not only happened to redeem fallen man, but his entire creation.  Lastly, Christ restores all things; he makes all things new and returns them to their original state of sinless perfection.  Scripture tells this story from cover to cover.  The rest of the world tells this story in one way or another, either because it knows it to be true, or because it longs for it to be true.

Tolkien’s The Hobbit is no different.  There is a created order to Middle Earth, and even a particular order presented with the history of the dwarves and their lives under the Mountain.  Smaug, the very embodiment of evil, disrupts that order by murdering the dwarves and hoarding their treasure.   The treasure belonged to the dwarves.  They are the rightful heirs.  In order to have that inheritance restored, they needed a redeemer.  Who is that redeemer?  Of course, it is none other than Mr. Bilbo Baggins.  His deeds restore the old order to the dwarven people, as well as to the men of Dale.  His deeds not only restored the people, but the land around them.  The prophecy of the dwarves homecoming said that the land would “be filled with new song and new laughter.”  What a picture of redemption and restoration!

One of the things I plan to do with this blog is as I finish a book, to trace this same pattern through the book.  My contention is that all books, whether those written by Christian authors (like Tolkien) or those written by staunch atheists (like Pullman) will sing this same song.  Tolkien knew his redeemed lived, and now rests with him.  Pullman longs for a redeemer, he just does not know it.  How great it is that he who created all things will see all things made new in the end!

I'd love to hear your questions and comments!