Niggle the little painter has to make a long journey. But when his rapturous devotion to his unfinished masterpiece prevents him from making any preparations, he finds that he has a lot to learn about life, painting, and even his grumpy neighbor Parish.
Tolkien's style in this story is simple, but the moral truths strike the reader between the eyes. Niggle makes mistakes--the kind of mistakes that all of us make--and he is forced to learn from them in a way that is admirably suited to his character.
Though Tolkien professed a "cordial dislike of allegory", this story is surprisingly allegorical in many aspects. Many reviewers have considered Niggle's "long journey" to mean life's last journey of death, including Purgatory and Heaven. The First and Second voices most likely represent God, though it's hard to say.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Crude or Profane Language or Content
Niggle says "D--n" and "Curse it!" on two instances when he is irritated.
Simple as this story is, it brought home to me the smallness of myself and the greatness of God in an unexpected way. The ending, especially, is both heartbreaking and gloriously happy.