The book The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, is about the goal of a group of dwarves to win back their treasure from an evil dragon. With the help of Gandalf, the wizard, they set off on their adventure. Gandalf recruits Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit to join them on their journey. Throughout the first half of the book the dwarves are constantly questioning Bilbo's presence because they see him as more of a hassle then a help. However, Gandalf always defends Bilbo's importance. Why is it that Gandalf chose Bilbo to accompany the dwarves on their mission?
Being the smallest one in the group by far, Bilbo did not show much help to the dwarves in the first half of the book. In fact, I think he created more trouble for them. For instance, he was used to eating about six meals a day, so it was a great shock for him when he had to eat small amounts of food. He created a burden for Thorin and Gandalf, because the curious Hobbit was always questioning everything. Additionally, since he was so much smaller, his athletic abilities were behind that of the rest of the dwarves. For instance, he walked slower, could barely run, could not climb trees and could not carry a lot. A favorite pastime of his was blowing smoke rings, but his in no means compared to the ones Thorin and especially Gandalf could blow. Bilbo "blushed to think how proud he had been... of the smoke-rings he had sent up over The Hill." (p.13). This shows that Bilbo is timid and unconfident because he felt like he did not compare to the others. He creates more trouble for them when he is caught by the trolls as he tried to steal from them. Additionally, while running in the tunnels from the goblins in the mountain, Bilbo endangers the group because he must be carried since he can not keep up with the group. This proved to be a problem because "Dori, [was] now at the back again carrying Bilbo" (p. 67) and then the goblins caught up with him. However, despite all of these setbacks, Gandalf always defended Bilbo's importance on the adventure.
Slowly, the reader begins to understand why Bilbo was needed for the group. He has done some things that prove to be important to the group. One important quality he carries as a hobbit, is the ability to creep very quietly without being heard. This will allow his to spy and be the group's burglar. He again proves a help when the group is sleeping in a cave in the Misty Mountains. Since Bilbo is having trouble sleeping, he sees the goblins when they attack the group which allows Gandalf the time to react to their being attacked. Then while they are in the cave, Bilbo at first seems a hassle, because he gets separated from the group. However, by finding the invisible ring, it is apparent that he should greatly help the group in the second part of the book, because if he can be invisible he should have the capabilities to do all sorts of things. Additionally, when he tells the dwarves the story of his escape from the tunnels, without mentioning the ring, he proves to have brains intellectually. Soon after, Gandalf deserts the dwarves because he can travel with them no further. It is at this point where Bilbo really shows to be important. As they begin to travel through Mirkwood Forest, it is Bilbo's eyesight that is proving a great help, as it was lightly important in the past. For instance, when they reach a river in the path, only Bilbo is capable of seeing the wooden boat on the other side of it. Additionally, when they cross the river it is Bilbo who sees Bombur has fallen in from the deer and he causes the dwarves to take action in fishing him out by shouting "Bombur has fallen in! Bombur is drowning!" (p. 144). Gandalf has just left the group and already Bilbo seems to be emerging as a leader. I expect that in the second half of the book he will prove to help the dwarves in the journey to get their treasure back in many ways. With the help of his invisible turning ring, powerful eyesight, quick thinking and gaining confidence he should get the dwarves far.
With all of Bilbo Baggin's ways of helping the group increasing, it is evident that Gandalf was right in choosing Him for the expedition. I suspect that more reasons will soon show exactly why Gandalf always defended Bilbo.