Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Another LOTR Read-Along: The Window on the West (TTT 4, 5)

This is more like it! Finally, we're talking about Boromir again!

Okay, honestly, even if Boromir wasn't mentioned, I would be so happy with this chapter. A brief reprieve from wandering around in the grey dismality of Almost-Mordor. Food and rest for poor Sam and Frodo. Whew.

And hello, Faramir! It's weird, but for many years, I never paid a whole lot of attention to Faramir. I tended to just think of him as Boromir's little brother, and isn't it nice how much he loved his brother, etc. But during my previous read-through, I was really struck by just how grand Faramir really is. He's like a knight out of a King Arthur story, chivalrous and honorable to a fault.

And he listens better to the old stories than Boromir, for Faramir says of Lothlorien, "few of old came thence unchanged, 'tis said" (p. 652), while Boromir said, "it is said that few come out who once go in; and of that few none have escaped unscathed" (p. 329). Aragorn, of course, corrected Boromir thus: "Say not unscathed, but if you say unchanged, then maybe you will speak the truth" (p. 329). Faramir got it, but Boromir didn't. Interesting.

He's something of a paradox, this Faramir. He's obviously a good warrior, since his followers told us in the last chapter that "he leads now in all perilous ventures" (p. 645), yet he himself says, "I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory" (p. 656). Unlike Boromir, he doesn't enjoy deeds of valor for their own sake, but does them out of necessity.

Oh, and... Faramir has grey eyes! Pattern still holds.

Favorite Lines:

"We are a failing people, a springless autumn" (p. 662).

"Your heart is shrewd as well as faithful, and saw clearer than your eyes" (p. 666).

"...the praise of the praiseworthy is above all rewards" (p. 667).

He planted himself squarely in front of Faramir, his hands on his hips, and a look on his face as if he was addressing a young hobbit who had offered him what he called 'sauce' when questioned about visits to the orchard (p. 650).

Discussion Questions:

Faramir says, "We are truth-speakers, we men of Gondor. We boast seldom, and then perform, or die in the attempt" (p. 665). How does that differ from what Eomer said back in "The Riders of Rohan," when he claimed that "the Men of the Mark do not lie, and therefore they are not easily deceived" (p. 424)?

Why does Tolkien place this great emphasis on truth-telling?

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