Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Another LOTR Read-Along: The Passage of the Marshes (TTT 4, 2)

Drearily we stumble along, stumble along, stumble along...

As Tolkien himself says here, "The next stage of their journey was much the same as the last" (p. 611). Sam continues to suspect Gollum/Smeagol of ulterior motives, and to help Frodo by "supporting him if he stumbled, and trying to encourage him with clumsy words" (p. 617). Everything is ugly and horrible and ghastly.

And then we get to the Dead Marshes and discover that they're not just called that because nothing much grows there, but because there are dead bodies -- or the image of dead bodies -- under them Sooooooooo creepy. One of the creepiest things I've ever read, really. There was a big battle here many years ago, during the Last Alliance of Men and Elves when they tried originally to overthrow Sauron. The marshes were there before the battle, but smaller. After it, the marshes expanded to cover the graveyard gradually. Gollum says the dead bodies aren't really there, they're just images. Totally creepy.

This is where Aragorn found and captured Gollum back when he and Gandalf were hunting him -- remember hearing about that back in FOTR? Aragorn caught Gollum and brought him back so Gandalf could question him, and then they entrusted Gollum to Legolas' father Thranduil to keep him prisoner, but he escaped. That's why Legolas was a Rivendell, to bring the news that Gollum had escaped.

And here we learn that Gollum has a sort of dual identity crisis going on. Bad Gollum and Good Smeagol are warring inside him, a sort of literal representation of our Old Adam and New Adam in some ways. We shall see who wins out in the end.

Favorite Lines:

"Day is near," he whispered, as if Day was something that might overhear him and spring on him (p. 607).

Dead grasses and rotting reeds loomed up in the mists like ragged shadows of long-forgotten summers (p. 612).

Discussion Questions:

What do you think the lights above the dead things in the marsh might signify or represent or mean or whatever?

Frodo doesn't think that he and Sam will survive this, as we learn when Sam worries about how much food they have left. Do you think Sam believes that too now?

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