Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Another LOTR Read-Along: A Conspiracy Unmasked (FOTR 1, 5)

I love the contrast between this chapter's title and the previous one. We go from the whimsical "A Short Cut to Mushrooms" to the rather ominous "A Conspiracy Unmasked." There's nothing truly ominous about this chapter, however -- just Frodo coming to realize he's not as clever as he thought.

And now I'm going to talk about Sam some more. Here, he's the first to leave his comfort zone, crossing the Brandywine for the first time and striking out into territory that, while still in the Shire, is unfamiliar to him. Frodo, Merry, and Pippin have been here before, so for them, it's not that big a deal, but to Sam, wow. Enormous.

But before you can get yourself all comfortable with the idea of Sam Gamgee as a simple, one-note country lad, you find out he's a spy! And granted, he's just been spying on Frodo in a fairly innocuous way, but I think it would be harder to spy on someone who knows you well than on a stranger. Not that I'd know anything about such goings-on, of course ;-)

And we learn what lovely, loyal friends Frodo has. Merry and Pippin and Sam, of course, but also Fredegar "Fatty" Bolger, who got cut out of the movies and isn't in the book a whole lot either, but is equally doughty when it comes to pitching in to help his friend. What marvelous hobbits they all are.

Finally, I really like the little song Merry and Pippin got ready for the occasion of their departure. It really does work with the tune used in The Hobbit (2012).

Favorite Lines:

Sam was the only member of the party who had not been over the river before. He had a strange feeling as the slow gurgling stream slipped by: his old life lay behind in the mists, dark adventure lay in front (p. 97).

"We can't begin life at Crickhollow with a quarrel over baths" (p. 99).

Discussion Question:

Merry describes friendship this way: "You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin -- to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours -- closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo" (p. 103). What do you think constitutes true friendship?

Quick Note:  This will probably be the only chapter I post this week, as I've just finished having company and will be hosting a big Thanksgiving meal on Thursday, so... I'm kinda swamped.  


  1. I LOVE how friendship is shown in this chapter! Merry, Pip, Sam, and Fatty are truly loyal friends. I think friends who are willing, as Merry said, to "stick to you through thick and thin" and help you grow as a Christian are the best kind of friends. That's the type of friend I hope to be. :-) I LOVE Pippin's bath song in this chapter. ;-D

    1. Excellent thoughts on friendship there, MEM. And yes, Pippin's bath song is so funny :-)

  2. They are indeed great friends. So far, I think this is one beautiful feature in this trilogy, how it potrays friendship and the importance it has in order to achieve the ultimate goal: to destroy the Ring and overthrow the Evil from the Middle Earth.

    I like Merry's words about friends sticking through thick and thin. My other favourite quote in this chapter is by Pippin: 'Dear old Frodo! Did you really think you had thrown dust in all our eyes? You have not been nearly careful or clever enough for that.' (p. 135). I laughed so much when I read it.

    1. Irene, I agree! The friendships in this are just beautiful, and they're of paramount importance.

      I get such a kick out of pretty much everyone in this chapter :-D

  3. And this is about where I start realizing Merry is my favorite Hobbit here after Frodo. The bit about having 3 baths so no quarreling just makes me grin. So practical. And Fatty is a lovely stalwart friend as well, who really does his part on the home front. I love how they figured out everything, even about the ring, and are so willing to go with Frodo into danger.

    1. DKoren, yes! Merry is so practical and sensible. So good at organizing and getting things done. No doubts about why I'm fond of him!

      Fatty needs more props because it could not have been easy to live in Crickhollow knowing you were purposely there to be a decoy for dangerous and evil things! I love the bit with him in a few more chapters. He's a smart one.


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