Tolkien spends most of his time absorbed in two narrow scopes of study, ancient languages and mythology, and becomes an expert on both. He loves to figure out ways to blend the two, and takes his subjective experiences and sensory impressions and twists them into unique characters, situations, and stories. He keeps at this obsession with languages faithfully, creating his own dialects and words, heavily “stealing” from Finnish. He also takes from stories his mother told him, to shape his work. Tolkien astounds his friends by memorizing entire sections of books, and reciting them in class after they steal his book. Though intensely creative, Tolkien isn’t always good at seeing the big picture – Edith must remind him it’s not how a word sounds, but its history, that makes it powerful. (“Cellar door… the door that opens into something magical, a door that leads to anywhere.”) His linguistic professor teaches him something similar, to focus on the essence of an “oak” and what it means in actuality. When Tolkien loses his scholarship, he assumes that’s the end of his college career. It takes a friend to point out to him he could change courses to linguistics and get a scholarship for languages. His one passion is languages and he focuses so much on developing them, he forgets the emotional component – as Edith tells him at lunch, knowledge and interpretation are nothing without emotional meaning. “Hand” is not memorable because of its components, but because you can touch the things you love with it. He maintains high grades, and takes a pragmatic view of his losses – when believing his career is at an end, Tolkien laments that he must now find a proper job somewhere. He puts aside his personal feelings for Edith to pursue his grades, after his priest reminds him of his moral responsibilities. Tolkien can often be unintentionally blunt, but he’s also apologetic about it. At his heart, he’s an incurable romantic, who falls deeply in love with Edith and finds it hard to say it (though every glance screams the truth). He values his friends so much, he tries to find one of them on a war-torn battlefield.

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Tolkien’s life is about avoidance through his imagination and in doing what he believes is right. He gives up his girlfriend because a superior tells him to do so, even though it goes against his better nature; and he is concerned when she misbehaves in a café, but then adapts to her and starts throwing around sugar cubes as well. He’d rather read than make new friends, and only warms up to them when he realizes their shared appreciation for life, beauty, art, and knowledge. He shows the whimsical, romantic side of a 9 in his intense imagination, in which he conjures up characters and ideas that keep him removed from the real world and the horrors of war during his fevered state in the trenches (he numbs himself to them and “ignores” what is going on around him). He claims giving up Edith was “not a choice,” but as his friend points out, he chose college over the woman he loved. He’s deeply private and individualistic, withdrawn and must be drawn out of his shell by others, but also forms an instant “love at first sight” attraction to Edith that never fades. He’s easily emotional and sometimes, easily angered, but doesn’t like to misbehave, feels shame about getting drunk and making a fool of himself, isn’t interested in casual relationships, and can be something of a perfectionist in his literary efforts and college efforts.