Monday, February 26, 2018

Another LOTR Read-Along: The Taming of Smeagol (TTT 4, 1)

The first time I read The Two Towers, I barely made it through, to be honest. The second time, I'd read somewhere that if you pay attention to Sam and his character growth and arc, all this is a lot more interesting, and I tried that. It does help, and keeps me from bashing my head against a wall, at least.

By which I mean, if this next section makes you weary, or you wonder if it's ever going to end, or whatever -- don't feel like you're a bad person. Or a bad reader. Or even a bad Tolkien fan. However, you might find it fascinating, you never know! I know quite a few people who think this is the best part of the book.

After all, Tolkien is Making A Point with how long and tortuous and dull Frodo and Sam's journey is at this point. Being heroic isn't always exciting. So I slog through it dutifully.

So anyway, we have Gollum with us now, and I'll write more about him another time. Meanwhile, look how cheerful Sam is! Faced with climbing (or falling) down a steep cliff, he says lovely, heartening things like, "I suppose it's always easier getting down than up," and "Looking's better than climbing" (p. 592). Dear, dear Sam, the sturdy hobbit. It says later that, when they're climbing down using the rope, Frodo "had not quite Sam's faith," (p. 596), and I find that such a telling phrase. Sam believes wholeheartedly that they'll get where they're going, that they'll succeed. He believes the rope will hold, he believes they'll find a way into Mordor, he believes they can somehow find Mount Doom.

And when they capture Gollum, although Sam doesn't trust him one bit and hates having him around, when it comes to tying Gollum with a rope, "Sam was gentler than his words" (p. 603). Doesn't that phrase warm your heart?

Favorite Lines:

"I wish there was a clear path in front of us; then I'd go on till my legs gave way" (p. 598).

Discussion Questions:

Do you find the Frodo-and-Sam-wandering-through-Mordor parts hard to get through or fascinating, or a bit of both?  Or something different entirely?

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