Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Another LOTR Read-Along: The Choices of Master Samwise (TTT 4, 10)
How far we have come. More specifically, how far Samwise Gamgee has come. He began as a humble gardener, a simple hobbit, but now, thanks to his "indomitable spirit" (p. 713) and his rage over what has happened to his dear Master Frodo, he not only faces down a terrifying monster, he prevails against her with "a fury... greater than any she had known in countless years" (p. 711).
And yet, once Shelob disappears, so does Sam's sudden transformation. "Sam was left alone," (p. 713) and as he kneels beside Frodo, he says what I think are the saddest words in this whole trilogy: "Don't go where I can't follow!" (p. 713). That gets to me every time. I'm tearing up all over again as I flip through the pages to write this post. Sam feels abandoned, bereft. Alone.
One thing I didn't notice the first few times I read this: Sam briefly considers trying to follow Frodo. "He looked on the bright point of the sword. He thought of the place behind where there was a black brink and an empty fall into nothingness" (p. 715). For a moment, Sam wonders if he's more an antique Roman than a hobbit, if he should just end his misery then and there. Happily, he instantly sees that "[t]here was no escape that way" (p. 715) and starts figuring out what he should do next.
Anyway, when Sam puts on the ring, Tolkien says, "[c]ertainly the Ring had grown greatly in power as it approached the places of its forging; but one thing it did not confer, and that was courage" (p. 717). How interesting that having power -- even awesome, earth-shattering power -- doesn't give you courage. Power is not courage. Such a cool observation.
And... we did it! We finished The Two Towers!!! I always feel like this is the hardest one to get through, and it's all getting more fun from here on out.
Random fun thing: When the paperback version of the trilogy came out in the '60s, the hippies fell in love with these books, and they started doing this crazy, silly thing. They ran around spray-painting "Frodo lives!" everywhere, wearing it on t-shirts and buttons, putting it on bumper stickers, etc. I find this extremely funny -- could you imagine walking down a grungy city street and seeing graffiti that just says, "Frodo lives!" Like this is a super cool fact we all need the world to know! Dunno, it just amuses me.
So anyway, Frodo lives, but he's been captured by the enemy, and isn't that just a terrible place for a book to end? Good thing we can dive right into the next one!
Sam did not wait to wonder what was to be done, or whether he was brave, or loyal, or filled with rage (p. 711).
"Will he?" said Sam. "you're forgetting the great big elvish warrior that's loose!" (p. 724).
When Sam learns that Frodo is still alive, he reprimands himself with this: "The trouble with you is that you never really had any hope" (p. 723). What on earth? Sam's the most hopeful character here! Does he not see that himself? What do you think this part's supposed to mean?
Leaving Frodo, his employer and friend, "was altogether against the grain of his nature" (p. 716), and Sam later berates himself for the decision: "Never leave your master, never, never: that was my right rule. And I knew it in my heart. May I be forgiven!" (p. 724). But... if Sam had stayed by Frodo, he probably would have been captured too, wouldn't he? Are there times when following logic instead of instinct can be a good thing?