Saturday, November 18, 2017

Another LOTR Read-along: A Short Cut to Mushrooms (FOTR 1, 4)

I absolutely love the title of this chapter. It makes me laugh, and it also alerts readers that this is going to be lighter than the previous one. I love mushrooms myself, so I'd definitely like to know of any shortcuts to get to some.

Pippin continues to be concerned about the Black Riders' sniffing, and rather put out that Frodo didn't ask the Elves about it. I'm amused.

This is the chapter where I start to really love Sam. It chiefly begins with this:
"If you don't come back, sir, then I shan't, that's certain," said Sam. "Don't you leave him! they said to me. Leave him! I said. I never mean to. I am going with him, if he climbs to the Moon, and if any of those Black Riders try to stop him, they'll have Sam Gamgee to reckon with, I said. They laughed." (p. 85)
Oh, Sam. How perfectly wonderful you are! I really feel like Sam has the greatest character arc in the whole book. He goes from humble gardener who's never been out of the Shire to a brave hero who helps save Middle Earth. Such an amazing guy. (Warning: I'm going to natter on about him a lot. He's my second-favorite character.)

Frodo notices that Sam is already growing and changing. Shortly after that bit,
Frodo looked at Sam rather startled, half expecting to see some outward sign of the odd change that seemed to have come over him. It did not sound like the old Sam Gamgee that he thought he knew. But it looked like the old Sam Gamgee sitting there, except that his face was unusually thoughtful. (p. 85)
The Sams, they are a-changin'.

Speaking of wonderful characters, isn't Farmer Maggot awesome? I read an internet discussion once where people tried to figure out who could have taken the ring if Frodo and Sam hadn't been able to, and it was almost universally agreed that Farmer Maggot could have done it too. But anyway, he's a great example of a pattern throughout the trilogy: reversed expectations. Frodo is scared of him, but he's friendly. His name sounds icky and rotten, but he's kind and lively. This is a huge theme for Tolkien -- I think it reflects the fact that he was a Christian. It really brings to mind those passages about how the wisdom of God is foolishness to man, or how the least will be greatest and the greatest will be least, and that the Son of God came to earth humble and poor.

So keep an eye out for that theme as we go.

Favorite Lines:

"I have something to do before the end, and it lies ahead, not in the Shire" (p. 85).

Discussion Questions:

Do you like mushrooms?

What other things can you think of from LOTR that go with the theme/pattern of reversing expectations? 


  1. Farmer Maggot is awesome! I definitely think he could have brought the Ring to Mordor if no one else could've. That is an amazing theme; I will keep an eye out for it in future chapters!!! Haha, I never really noticed how concerned Pippin was about the sniffing. XD I do like mushrooms. <3 I think that in LotR just the characters themselves go along with the theme of reversing expectations! Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin aren't the first people I would have chosen to go on the quest, but they were the ones appointed. :-)

  2. Farmer Maggot really is a sensible, sturdy hobbit :-)

    The whole reversing-expectations thing is pretty awesome. I mean, when you first meet Aragorn, you don't think "future king of everything" either.

  3. We eat mushrooms gladly around here too :)

    That's a very interesting theme, the reversed expectations. Thanks for hinting at it. This being the first time I am reading TLOTR, I was growing tense as I read about Mr Maggot and how he lured the small company into his house. I was kind of expecting him to be a shady character but he turned out to be a very decent one instead.

    1. Irene, I love mushrooms! Happily, so does my husband, and we've taught our kids to love them too.

      I envy you! My first reading was soooooo long ago. I'm teaching LOTR to my niece right now too -- she's a sophomore in high school -- and it's so beautiful watching her discover this story.

      But anyway, yup, that theme will come around a lot, so keep an eye out for it. And Farmer Maggot is awesome! Though definitely a bit fearsome, especially in Frodo's memory ;-)


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