What are the differences between the Tookses and the Baggineses?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Very good question and one which centers on the internal conflict within Bilbo Baggins himself - as a Baggins, he is respectable and "normal", but the Tookish part of him makes him yearn for adventure and danger.

The Bagginses are described on the very first page of the novel:

This hobbit was a very well to do hobbit, and his name was Baggins. The Bagginses have lived in the neighbourhood of The Hill for time out of mind, and people considered them very respectable, not only because most of them were rich, but also because they never had any adventures or did anything unexpected: you could tell what a Baggins woul say on any question without the bother of asking him.

However, we are soon told about the relation of the Tooks to Bilbo. His mother was called Belladonna Took and she was one of three daughters of the Old Took:

...certainly there was still something not entirely hobbitlike about them, and once in a while members of the Took clan would go have have adventures. They discreetly disappeared, and the family hushed it up; but the fact remained that the Tooks were not as respectable as the Bagginse, though they were undoubtedly richer.

There you have it then. We are presented with a world where tradition, respectability and social standing are based on wealth but also not doing anything unexpected and predictability. The Took clan, based on this definition, were not respectable because of their rather disconcerting tendency to go off and have "adventures" - and this of course mirrors the internal conflict within Bilbo himself.