Saturday, March 1, 2014

LOTR Read-Along: The Taming of Smeagol (TTT Ch. 12)

And now we enter what I tend to refer to as "the boring Frodo and Sam wandering around part."  Maybe 'boring' is the wrong word -- 'sleep-inducing' might be more accurate.  This chapter isn't so bad, but there will come a time when I will probably fall asleep reading parts of this section.  Is that a terrible thing to admit?

The first time I read The Two Towers, I barely made it through, to be honest.  The second time, I'd read somewhere that if you pay attention to Sam and his character growth and arc, all this is a lot more interesting, and I tried that.  It does help, and keeps me from bashing my head against a wall, at least.

And yes, I realize Tolkien is Making A Point with how long and tortuous and dull Frodo and Sam's journey is at this point, that being heroic isn't always exciting.  So I slog through it dutifully.  But I'm so glad that in the movies, Peter Jackson intercut the various sections so we didn't spend two hours trudging and then an hour doing the more interesting stuff.

So anyway, we have Gollum with us now, and I'll write more about him another time.  Meanwhile, look how cheerful Sam is!  Faced with climbing (or falling) down a steep cliff, he says lovely, heartening things like, "I suppose it's always easier getting down than up," and "Looking's better than climbing" (p. 592).  Dear, dear Sam, the sturdy hobbit.  It says later that, when they're climbing down using the rope, Frodo "had not quite Sam's faith," (p. 596), and I find that such a telling phrase.  Sam believes wholeheartedly that they'll get where they're going, they'll succeed.  He believes the rope will hold, he believes they'll find a way into Mordor, he believes they can somehow find Mount Doom.  

And when they capture Gollum, although Sam doesn't trust him one bit and hates having him around, when it comes to tying Gollum with a rope, "Sam was gentler than his words" (p. 603).  Doesn't that phrase warm your heart?

Favorite Lines:

"I wish there was a clear path in front of us; then I'd go on till my legs gave way" (p. 598).

Possible Discussion Questions:  

How do you feel about the "Frodo and Sam wandering around part" of this book?  

19 comments:

  1. Oh, I can't express in words how relieved I am to hear someone else honestly admitting that they find the Frodo and Sam section dull – I couldn't agree more! I've only gotten halfway through this chapter and I'm already thinking "It would work so much better if the Frodo&Sam story and the Rest Of The Guys story were alternated throughout the book." Honestly, I'm just looking forward to where Faramir comes in :P If I recall correctly from my previous read-through, that's where things got interesting again in my opinion.

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    1. Oh my goodness, I used to literally fall asleep while reading this section during lunch breaks at work. It is so very dull. Until Faramir arrives, yes -- then it's not bad through the end of the book. And then it gives you a big cliffhanger with all the Shelob stuff, and the next book begins back with Gandalf and Co, and it's all great fun until we wind up with Frodo and Sam wandering around in Mordor again, and it's dull again.

      The good news is, I checked the page count until Faramir arrives, and it's a lot shorter than I remembered.

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  2. My first read-through, I remember this being rather dull; however, I seemed to like it better the second time around. I like Sam as a character, but as I've said before, Merry and Pippin steal the show for me.
    -Dale

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    1. I think the first time anyone reads this, it just seems interminable because you don't know how long it's going to go on. Whereas once you know that by the time you hit "Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit" it's going to be more interesting again, it helps you power through it.

      I think if I didn't love Sam, I would skim/skip this part, to be terribly honest.

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  3. I've awarded you with the honorary Sunflower Blogger Award! :D But please don't feel like you have to do it...

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    1. BTW more about this on my blog... ;)

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    2. I just got this award from two other people and posted about it on my other blog. I will amend it to include your questions posthaste! Thank you!

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  4. Woops! You've caught up to where I left off reading, and I still have to go back and comment on book 3 chapters! Sigh. How did that happen.

    The first time I read this book, waaaaay back when, I remember being extremely frustrated in Book 3 because there was nothing about what was happening with Frodo and Sam, and to me, they were the heart of the book, and I got all ancy until I got to this chapter. Then I relaxed again, and settled in. I did not remotely find it boring or interminable. This is what I was reading the book for the first time through. I remember also being very tense throughout because of Gollum's presence, and I soooooo didn't trust him, so I would read faster to find out what he was going to do. Of course, I read this long before the movies came out, and I had no idea what was going to happen in the story.

    I can't remember my second read-through's reaction (also before the movies came out). I know it wasn't my favorite section, but I was still not bored. This is probably because I still carried those initial feelings of excitement? Or perhaps I still love this section because of all the solo hiking I do? I totally relate to all this.

    The funny thing is, I'm actually more apt to be bored in the movie when they're walking around than I am in the book. I think that's an imagination thing, though. I like the way I picture things from the book, and I feel and empathize differently when I read. But we'll see how I'm feeling by the time this book wraps up!

    So, of course, I'm the opposite again. LOL!

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    1. This is what makes the world go 'round: you and I being polar opposites on so many things!

      Of course, you know why this part doesn't appeal to me. It's 9/10 description. My eyes glaze over and I fall asleep. I start to skim without realizing it, then think, "This is Tolkien! I shouldn't skim!" and go back and read the last page or so over again. And then I start to skim without realizing it... takes me a long time to get through these chapters.

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  5. I've so often thought: why didn't Tolkien alternate the chapters in book 3 and book 4, like the stories are alternated in the movies? Looking at your post and the comments I am not the only one who thought that! But I guess Tolkien must have had a reason for writing it this way, probably related to what you wrote in the post.

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    1. Yes, that certainly would have made things more pleasant for the readers! Though maybe then we'd be tempted to skip these chapters to get back to the exciting stuff?

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    2. Maybe... but I at least have never yet skipped a chapter in a work of fiction

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    3. Not even on your sixth reading?

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    4. I don't remember ever reading a book six times. Maybe some children's book, but in that case, well, I just don't remember! Should ask my mum!

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    5. Wow, really? I love to revisit books. This is my sixth read-through of LOTR.

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    6. Sigh, I really do love it to, but I simply don't have (or make...) the time, with so many great books around I've not yet read!

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    7. Yes, it's a great conundrum. But some books I have to savor more than once. They're the ones I buy my own copy of, and don't just get from the library.

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    8. I always love these times when you have a 'real-time' conversation with an internet friend on the other side of the world!! It's almost 11 o'clock in the evening her now and I'm close to going to bed. You're in the middle of your day, I guess?

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    9. Yup, it was not quite 5pm :-)

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