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5101Hobbit ages (was: Review)

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  • David S. Bratman
    Feb 12, 2002
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      At 10:26 AM 2/12/2002 , Michael Martinez wrote:
      >The tweens and coming-of-age-at-33 tradition were Shire conventions.

      But they're based on something.

      >Hobbits are really no different in that respect. I think the coming-
      >of-age at 33 issue is taken too seriously by many people. It should
      >not be identified with a biological point of maturity.

      I do not say that non-Shire hobbitoids had the same concepts of coming of
      age, or the same ages if they do. (We can't make up our own minds between
      18 and 21.) And I certainly don't maintain the .7 figure as a rigid
      calculation: it's a useful rule of thumb, no more. But I think that the 33
      is one piece of evidence in a consistent case that Hobbits age more slowly
      than we do, across the board. Here's some relevant biological and
      behavioral facts:

      1) Hobbits reach a hundred as often as not, so their aging process
      definitely differs from ours in an extended direction. Tolkien says Bilbo
      was "old even for Hobbits."

      2) Pippin seems awfully immature for 29, by our standards.

      3) Bilbo and Frodo both go on their Adventures at about 50. Both of them,
      notably Bilbo, who didn't have a Ring until then, seem awfully young and
      spry for 50, by our standards.

      4) If there's a human society that has its coming of age as great as 33, I
      don't know of it. Indeed, many societies (especially primitive and rural
      ones) often have comings-of-age that seem surprisingly young to us.

      This isn't proof: Hobbits don't exist, so nothing is proof. But it's a
      solid argument.

      David Bratman
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