Tuesday, March 18, 2014

LOTR Read-Along: The Window on the West (TTT Ch. 16)

This is more like it!  Finally, we're talking about Boromir again!

Okay, honestly, even if Boromir wasn't mentioned, I would be so happy with this chapter.  A brief reprieve from wandering around in the grey dismality of Almost-Mordor.  Food and rest for poor Sam and Frodo.  Whew.

And hello, Faramir!  It's weird, but I've never paid a whole lot of attention to Faramir before this reading.  I tend to just think of him as Boromir's little brother, and isn't it nice how much he loved his brother, etc.  But this read-through, I was really struck by just how grand Faramir really is.  He's like a knight out of a King Arthur story, chivalrous and honorable to a fault.  

And he listens better to the old stories than Boromir, for Faramir says of Lothlorien, "few of old came thence unchanged, 'tis said" (p. 652), while Boromir said, "it is said that few come out who once go in; and of that few none have escaped unscathed" (p. 329).  Aragorn, of course, corrected Boromir thus:  "Say not unscathed, but if you say unchanged, then maybe you will speak the truth" (p. 329).  

He's something of a paradox, this Faramir.  He's obviously a good warrior, since his followers told us in the last chapter that "he leads now in all perilous ventures" (p. 645), yet he himself says, "I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory" (p. 656).  Unlike Boromir, he doesn't enjoy deeds of valor for their own sake, but does them out of necessity.  

I used to feel like, if I liked Faramir a lot, I was somehow being disloyal to Boromir.  Yeah, I know -- they're fictional!  Machts nicht.  That's how I felt.  This is probably because I had friends who, when I saw the second movie, seemed to expect that I would suddenly throw off my love of Boromir and see that Faramir is far the superior person, blah blah blah.  And I've got that fiercely loyal thing going on -- Boromir was my favorite, he was going to stay my favorite, and if that meant dismissing Faramir as not particularly interesting, so be it.

But that's just lame!  I'm not Denethor, I don't need to be all "Boromir is awesome, and since Faramir is different, he's not awesome."  I despise Denethor for that very attitude!  So, from now on, I'm a fan of "this grave young man, whose words seemed so wise and fair" (p. 657).  I'll place him around Aragorn in my list of favorites.  Which now looks like this, then:

1.  Boromir
2.  Sam
3.  Gandalf and Eomer
4.  Aragorn and Faramir
5.  Merry and Pippin
6.  Legolas and Gimli
7.  Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth

Which makes that my top eleven now, but round numbers are overrated.  I cannot leave Prince Imrahil off!  He's so full of shiny awesome.  And yes, I have two people for four places because I like those two characters equally well and can't place one above the other.

Oh, and... Faramir has grey eyes!  Pattern still holds.

And then Faramir makes me want to hug him because he says of seeing Boromir's body:  "Whether he erred or no, of this I am sure:  he died well, achieving some good thing.  His face was more beautiful even than in life" (p. 654).  Aww.  Very sweet.  And then he says Boromir was "a man of prowess, and for that he was accounted the best man in Gondor" (p. 664).  

Okay, okay, I'll quit.  I just get so happy in this chapter over how appreciated Boromir was at home, especially since I keep feeling like a lot of people write him off as "a bad guy."  

Favorite Lines:

"We are a failing people, a springless autumn" (p. 662).

"Your heart is shrewd as well as faithful, and saw clearer than your eyes" (p. 666).

"...the praise of the praiseworthy is above all rewards" (p. 667).

He planted himself squarely in front of Faramir, his hands on his hips, and a look on his face as if he was addressing a young hobbit who had offered him what he called 'sauce' when questioned about visits to the orchard (p. 650).

Possible Discussion Questions:

Faramir says, "We are truth-speakers, we men of Gondor.  We boast seldom, and then perform, or die in the attempt" (p. 665).  Does that differ from what Eomer said back in "The Riders of Rohan," when he claimed that "the Men of the Mark do not lie, and therefore they are not easily deceived" (p. 424)?  Why does Tolkien place this great emphasis on truth-telling?

Anyone want to write a character post about Faramir?  It's been a while since we had a character post.


  1. Okay, you will laugh and laugh... cuz this chapter bored me so badly it took three sessions for me to get through it, and I was ready to just start skimming, just to get past it. Definitely my least favorite so far. They just won't shut up in this chapter! ROFL! Get me back to hiking on the dreary road! :-D

    But I do love the stuff you point out, particularly the comparison of lines about Faramir and Boromir and the stories. I dig that and would not have caught that myself.

    And I love when Sam speaks up at the end about the Elves, in particular how he describe Galadriel to Faramir. I love that whole section, and Sam's passion when he speaks. And I love when he says Frodo has an Elvish air, and Faramir has a wizardish air. It's such an interesting thing to say, but it fits, particularly with the way Faramir refuses the ring, as Gandalf does.

    1. Hahahahahaha! Whereas I was feasting eagerly on all this dialog and lovely character exploration and dreading going back to all that description-heavy wandering.

      This was the first time I caught the Faramir vs. Boromir about Lothlorien thing. And it's totally because I mentioned it in a blog post.

      Is it later in the book or the movie (or both) where Denethor accuses Gandalf of turning Faramir into his apprentice or something? There's something about that somewhere... can I vague that up for you a little? Hee.

  2. Yaaaay!!! I'm so glad you're liking him! :-) And ooohhh, I would absolutely love to do a character post on him! I'll have to see if it would work out...and I feel like I'd really be jumping in, but it would be so thrilling! Would there be a deadline for it...or would it work out any time in the next month or so? Would I be able to mention later events/developments? Or maybe I could do it during ROTK (after those events)?

    1. DO IT!!!! Yay! That will be totally cool. You can mention later stuff, absolutely -- I'm going with the assumption that people reading these posts are familiar with the whole story, either from the books or movies, but I do put a spoilage warning at the beginning of character posts just in case, and that way you can discuss character arcs as a whole.

      If you want to see the previous character posts, go here for Birdie's post about Aragorn and here for my post about Boromir.

      I tend to try to post them close to the first appearance of a character, so I think I'd rather have it sooner rather than later.

      Let me know when you've got something done, and I'll give you my email address. And if you have pictures you'd like included, you can send those too -- otherwise, I do have 5 or 6 good screencaps of Faramir I can use too.

    2. Sounds good! I'm super excited about the idea...so I'll get working on it and see what I can come up with! :-) I'll let you know as soon as I can.

    3. Cool beans. Actually, I think you already have my email address -- which reminds me that I have 2 stories left in your book and then I can finally respond to your messages and stuff!

    4. Yes, I do have it! And what with the recent discussion about *tidiness* I was laughing a little about my stories when you mentioned them. :-) The last one touches on that aspect...but I was definitely just trying to talk about the *big picture* of what a woman should be, not specific rules. We believe in cleanliness at our house, but we're not fanatics about it. ;-)

    5. Hee. I'm hoping to finish them tomorrow, but we shall see :-)


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