To quote Frodo, I'm glad to have my fellow readers with me, here at the end of all things. Well, not all things, but the end of this read-along and these books. I'm still rather amazed that we finished the whole thing! Granted, it took us longer to read them than it took Frodo and Sam to walk all the way to Mt. Doom, but still, we did it.
But enough about us. This is such a quiet, soft, melancholy chapter, isn't it? It reminds me of the little coda to Disney's The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh, when the narrator tells Pooh, "All stories have an ending," and Pooh replies, "Oh, bother." I would cheerfully spend another hundred or so pages reading about life in Hobbiton, and Merry and Pippin's visits to Rohan and Gondor, and Sam's children growing up, and Faramir and Eowyn setting up their household and trying to keep Ioreth from visiting all the time to dispense gossip, and...
But all stories have an ending. And, as Sam's Gaffer says, "All's well as ends Better!" (p. 999). I'm not really sad about how everything ends, just the fact that it does end.
Okay, so, on to a few less-pensive thoughts about this chapter. Tolkien writes that "there were thousands of willing hands of all ages" in the Shire, ready to rebuild! Thousands! I honestly tend to think of there being maybe, I dunno, five hundred hobbits all told, but if there were thousands of hands, then there had to be at least a thousand hobbits! Wow.
I love Sam replacing beloved trees, using his magic dust from Galadriel to better the whole Shire, not just Bag End, or even just Hobbiton. And then he spends the winter being "as patient as he could, and tried to restrain himself from going round constantly to see if anything was happening" (p. 1000). I get that way too, wanting to encourage things to grow somehow :-)
And how happy I am that Sam and Rosie get married and move in with Frodo! What could be better? Well, okay, Frodo not being changed beyond return would be better, but... I love Sam, and he's happy, so I'm happy.
Or I would be, if the story wasn't ending.
But doesn't it have the best last line ever?
He drew a deep breath. "Well, I'm back," he said.
Brilliant. Wonderful. "I laughed! I cried! It moved me, Bob." (That's from some VeggieTales or other, I can't recall which. It's what my college friends and I always said about movies and books we greatly enjoyed.)
Also, notice that it's almost exactly what he said to Farmer Cotton when he returned in the last chapter. And that waaaaaay back when he stood outside Shelob's lair and debated whether or not to follow Frodo to the tower full of orcs, "[h]e felt that if once he went beyond the crown of the pass and took one step veritably down into the land of Mordor, that step would be irrevocable. He could never come back" (p. 878).
But yet, he does get to come back. And Frodo does not, or he doesn't get to stay back. Hmm. I think there's something profound here, but it's not quite clicking for me tonight. Possibly because I'm tired and have strep throat again. How about you?
And no one was ill, and everyone was pleased, except those who had to mow the grass (p. 1000).
"I have been too deeply hurt, Sam. I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them" (p. 1006).
Possible Discussion Questions:
Did you discover anything new during this reading? Any little nugget of wisdom, new favorite line, character you suddenly "get," theme you never saw before?
I have an announcement to make!
I'll be hosting another giveaway to celebrate the end of this book! And it will be a bigger giveaway than before, because we finished not just one book, but the whole trilogy! However, like I said, I have strep again, and I'm tired, so the giveaway will start tomorrow, not tonight, as I need to get to bed. Something for you to look forward to tomorrow :-)