This chapter is such a beautiful representation of the cycle of temptation, sin, repentance, confession, and forgiveness. Pippin knows he shouldn't touch that glass ball, and even as he gives in to the temptation and tries to take it while Gandalf is asleep, his conscience is warning him not to. Gandalf later reprimands him for not listening to his conscience here, saying, "You knew you were behaving wrongly and foolishly; and you told yourself so, though you did not listen" (p. 584). Pippin picks it up and thinks it's not really the palantir, but just a bundle of Gandalf's effects or something, and feels "a strange sense of relief" (p. 577). And yet, he gives in to that temptation still more, unwrapping it and then covering it again and sneaking away to hide his sin, not letting anyone see him.
But like all sin, what at first seemed attractive, fun, even harmless has dangerous effects. Pippin not only hurts himself, but puts all his companions and friends in potential danger. And once he realizes how he has transgressed, Pippin cries out, "Gandalf! Forgive me!" He knows he has erred, is sorry he's done so, and wants to be assured he will not be cast away as a result.
But before Gandalf grants him forgiveness, he first demands that Pippin confesses what he has done so Pippin will recognize its harmfulness and ask his help to never do that again.
Only once Pippin has realizes the seriousness of what he has done does Gandalf say, "I forgive you. Be comforted!" (p. 580). He tenderly carries Pippin to his bed and tells him that if he ever feels tempted to touch the Palantir again, to ask Gandalf for help in overcoming the temptation. If only Pippin had done that in the first place, he would have been saved much grief and pain.
"All Wizards should have a hobbit or two in their care -- to teach them the meaning of the word, and to correct them" (p. 574).
"Perilous to us all are the devices of an art deeper than we possess ourselves" (p. 583).
Possible Discussion Questions:
If Pippin had not used the palantir, do you think that would have aided or hindered Frodo's quest?