Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin discover that their beloved homeland, the Shire, has been taken over by a “wicked fool,” who now seems to be in over his head as his “ruffian” allies seize power in his name.
Frodo is stunned at the news, but Merry advises him that “You won’t rescue the Shire…just by being shocked and sad.” They discuss strategy, and Pippin says they should hide for a while.
“No!” said Merry. “It’s no good ‘getting under cover.’ That is just what people have been doing, and just what these ruffians like. They will simply come down on us in force…No, we have got to do something at once.”
“Do what?” said Pippin.
“Raise the Shire!” said Merry. “Now! Wake all our people! They hate all this, you can see: all of them except perhaps one or two rascals, and a few fools that want to be important, but don’t at all understand what is really going on. But Shire-folk have been so comfortable so long they don’t know what to do. They just want a match, though, and they’ll go up in fire.”
Always been one of my favorite chapters.