Wood Is Flammable?
One of the most striking images produced in my mind while reading The Hobbit has been in the imagery of Lake-town. Now, the men of Lake-town are either the most dim witted people ever to have existed or some of the bravest. What part of living in a wooden town seems logical with a fire breathing dragon living so close? Is this to be taken as a great oxymoron? Not quite. While the idea of Lake-town seems absurd to the logical brain, it makes perfect sense. The Kings under the Mountain have not been in the area for a very long time. Building their town is the natural reaction of basic human experience. Because they personally have never seen Smaug, they don’t believe he really exists.
Similar situations have happened in the real world. Think of those that live near volcanoes, for instance. History and legend tells them that the volcano has erupted before, yet none of them can remember it happening. So what do they do? They build their towns along the base of the sleeping beast. They go about their daily lives in the naïve thought that they are safe.
Take a look no further than tornado alley. Year after year tornadoes rip that area apart. Entire towns are wiped out, hundreds of people are killed, and yet they continue to live there. They rebuild their towns, they pick themselves up, and they move on with their lives. Why? Because the human desire to live life without a thought to what could happen is engrained within us. I think it is probably our brain’s way of surviving. Could you imagine going through life knowing that at any moment you could die? I mean we could all die at any moment but we don’t go around thinking about it. We’d go insane.
At some point in time Lake-town will suffer a fire however, like reality, they will rebuild and go about happily in the wake of the disaster.