Tuesday, February 25, 2014

LOTR Read-Along: The Palantir (TTT Ch. 11)

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.  


Favorite Lines:

"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?


  1. I absolutely love how you brought all that out! ...about temptation, sin, repentance, confession, and forgiveness. Sinful actions always have consequences, but forgiveness is real and beautiful. I also find it fascinating here, how Tolkien weaves it all together plot-wise. It was a mistake on Pippin's part (and really harmful), but a seemingly individual action can have far-reaching consequences.

    1. Thanks! I just noticed it this time through, and now I wonder how I missed it all these years!

  2. I just passed this chapter, and you made some really good points regarding the themes of temptation and forgiveness. I think that Pippin's actions, while wrong, may have at least served a purpose in aiding Frodo and Sam, because at least for a little while, Sauron thinks that Pippin has the ring. I might be wrong though, so feel free to correct me. :)

    1. Yes, I think in the end they did aid Frodo and Sam, as they helped keep Sauron's attention away from his borders. Also, when Aragorn later used the palantir to show himself to Sauron, no doubt Sauron thought the Ring was with Aragorn, thanks to Pippin's actions here.


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