LOTR Read-Along! Fellowship Chapters 16-End

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Hobbit and LOTR Read-Along is hosted by Little Red Reviewer and Geeky Daddy

Welcome to the Third and Final part of Fellowship of the Ring.

Part One Part Two

I'll respond to a few of the discussion suggestions below, but first, another anecdote:

Once upon a time, in 1999, in the lands known as Massachusetts, there was a shiny new college student who lived in a dorm. Many such students lived in single rooms in this dorm, and the halls were filled with bright decorations. One day this particular student was walking with some new friends, and they went one floor higher than they normally did, to stop at one particular door.

On a piece of white paper, mounted on this door, was printed: Pedo Mellon a Minno.

The student who lived behind this door asked if the others remembered the phrase, and joked that they had to know the password, which, of course, was "Friend". The new student thought this was marvelous, because while she loved Lord of the Rings, she hadn't thought to put it on her door. (Let's not forget, this is two years before the movie made LOTR popular again everywhere.) In fact, when she came into the room, she found much about the inhabitant to like, including a well-loved copy of LOTR itself, as well as other books, decorations and interests. The two became friends, and then good friends, and, at the turning of the year, became a couple. And she bought him a new hardcover edition of Lord of the Rings, so that the paperbacks could be returned to his parents.

That's the copy that I'm reading. We've been together for almost twelve years now. Lord of the Rings is one of those things that has become even more important to me over time.

Okay, enough sappiness! Discussion topics!

Galadriel and her Ring. She knows the Ring of power must be destroyed, but with its destruction comes the de-powering (is that a word?) of her Ring as well. The Elves must leave Middle Earth or forget who and what they are. For her, this is a no win situation. Frodo's success effectively means the banishment of the Elves in Middle Earth. I wonder if that makes him more likely to do everything in his power to succeed, or less?

I'd forgotten how much frank discussion there is of the impact on the Elven Rings, and how tied that is to the closing of the Age, dwindling of the elves, etc. Although, in a way, the elves were also banished (by their own doing) to Middle-Earth in the first place, so leaving is both a sadness and a homecoming. Or so it seems to me; in Galadriel's song she seems to doubt that they will be able to sail away from Middle-Earth, and it grieves her. While I'm talking about Galadriel, I want to note that I also forgot that there's a nice piece of Aragorn's story here if you're looking for it, which touches on courting Arwen. Heads-up for those coming in from the movies: Aragorn and Arwen's story isn't told in full until the Appendix.

After spending some time in Lothlorien, Sam realizes the Elves aren’t quite as scary or as strange as he first thought. I wonder if when he gets back to the Shire if he’ll realize the Hobbits in the next town aren’t quite as strange as he once thought. I really don’t think this is an overt “message” story, but I do wonder if Tolkien didn't mind throwing in a little message of “those folks in the next valley aren’t as different as you think”.

Sure, there's a lot of cross-culture and cross-race friendships: Legolas and Gimli, Hobbits and everyone, alliances between Elves and Men. In the later books it becomes a little more problematic, as "evil" humans are hardly ever portrayed in a complex or sympathetic light. (After the whole Read-Along, I'll tell you guys about The Last Ringbearer, which I read this past spring. It was fascinating.)

I only stared reading fantasy a few years ago, and I keep running into this undercurrent of choice. Bilbo has to choose to give up the Ring. Frodo has to choose to take on the quest and be the Ring bearer. Even Boromir is choosing how he feels about the Ring and what it could bring him. In the end, this is all coming down to how we choose to live our lives from moment to moment.

What I love, what I've always loved about both Fantasy and Science Fiction, is that by putting characters into extreme situations, you can really dig deep into ideals of morality, nobility and, yes, choice.

And the obligatory: what was your favorite part of this section?
It was all so good! Moria, Lothlorien, the river-journey... too hard to choose! I really felt for Boromir on this read, though. His entrapment by the siren song of the Ring is so well handled, understandable from his history and his point of view, and his grief after realizing how close he came to fully falling is so complete.

Next Time: The Two Towers!

4 comments:

Lynn said...

I really liked your personal story! Not sappy at all.
I agree with you about Boromir. I think he is a bit misunderstood and I ended up feeling sorry for him.
I loved the chapters in the mines, so well written, just made me tense reading it!
Lynn :D

Carl V. said...

Ah, I LOVE the personal anecdote! Thank you so much for sharing that. What a wonderful thing for you both to share.

I liked the little mention of Aragorn and Arwen in the fellowship's time in Lothlorien.

I too think that some of the remaining elves, particularly Galadriel and Elrond who have a deeper role in events, wonder if they will be able to leave Middle-earth. I also think they wonder if they should leave now or stay and try to have some impact on the events that are rapidly unfolding. There is something deeply bittersweet about the elves as we meet them in the times of these events and it makes me feel so strongly about them.

I was really happy to see how quickly Legolas and Gimli become friends in the book. It is nice to see them quickly rise above their faces' distrust of each other. I also find myself really touched by the way in which Lothlorien affects Gimli, particularly because of Galadriel.

I couldn't agree with you more about what Science Fiction and Fantasy does in allowing the examination of deeper human ideas, ideals, etc. They talk about this a great deal in the extras on the Extended Editions of the LOTR films.

I'm with you all the way on Boromir, it was well-handled and I think he represents humanity so well. Haven't we all been there where we made a decision that in retrospect was much about our own self interest while convincing ourselves it was for right and even noble reasons?

Lindsay said...

Thanks Lynn and Carl! I thought personal stories were pertinent to the read-along, because there's such a difference between coming at a book for the first time and coming at it for the fifth or sixth time and having had the work as a presence in one's reading and personal history.

Alice said...

I read these books ONE time, and it was right before the movies, as I would've felt bad if I hadn't read them first.

That being said, I mainly remember the movies. So I have to say HUZZAH FOR BOROMIR! Ah, complex characters. Also Galadriel also kicks ass, but there I mean more BookGaladriel and not GlowingCateBlanchettGaladriel.

And that was a super-cute story. Books, you wily things, helping bring people together.

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