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Posts Tagged ‘Gandalf’

This ends now.

Home again.

Home again.

Sam, Merry, and Pippin ride home in silence. Merry and Pippin ride on ahead once they arrive back in the Shire, and Sam returns to Bag End. Rosie is waiting for him with dinner and his daughter. All is well.

That’s the end.

Admittedly, I find this post more difficult than what I have planned for tomorrow, because I’ve been thinking about those thoughts for quite a while. Today is, after all, just another normal post. Like the end of many chapters, it’s not even a full page, and the action is rather simple. If it weren’t the end of the book, there wouldn’t be much more to say. However, because it is the end, there’s more meaning.

I find the style of the narrative at the end very interesting. “And he went on, and there was yellow light, and fire within,” it goes. There’s a lot of “and” this, “and” that, and it feels like someone rambling on about unimportant events. It’s the start of Sam’s new life – the happy life he’s always wanted at home in the Shire. Things aren’t dramatic or epic. He can settle down to live happily.

This is part of the reason why Frodo had to leave. Frodo (like Bilbo) had a flair for adventure. Once dragged into the journey, he let it consume him. He learned an immeasurable amount about himself, but he was never able to shake the restless nerves that he grew to live with over the course of the tale. Frodo accepted that he must take the ring, and even volunteered to do so at the Council of Elrond. Sam, on the other hand, never really did that. He got lumped in with Frodo when Gandalf discovered him listening in, and Sam’s thoughts to keep him in good spirits on the road were almost always of home. He has an easier time slipping back to his good life at peace.

And so, the end isn’t a big deal. It’s the beginning of a new tale, but not one that will keep us gripped with excitement. We leave our heroes here.

...is the beginning.

…is the beginning.

Of course, this isn’t quite my end. I have a retrospective conclusion planned for tomorrow. What have I learned? What was it like? What are some cool/fun facts? What’s next? I’m going to post a big long bunch of thoughts tomorrow to say a lot about this experience.

Just over two and a half years ago, I sat down to write a blog. It went by incredibly fast. I regret to announce that – though, as I said, two and a half years is far too short a time to to write among you – this is the END. I am going. I am leaving NOW. GOOD-BYE!

No one dies today.

“‘Well, I’m back,’ he said.”

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I started to feel the first pangs of emotion when reading/typing today’s page. This probably won’t be startlingly hard for me, but something feels so final about this. Two more.

Frodo, Sam, Bilbo, and the elves ride up to the Grey Havens, where Círdan, the shipwright, greets them. Standing by a white boat is Gandalf, dressed in white and with his ring showing. Merry and Pippin ride up quickly behind the group, having been summoned by Gandalf. He doesn’t want Sam to ride back alone.

Friends are good!

Friends are good!

The time comes for those leaving to sail away. The ship dwindles into the horizon, and Frodo sees the white shores approach sometime in the night through the rain clearing into a sunrise. Sam stands back at the Grey Havens with Merry and Pippin long into the night.

First Mentions:

-the Far Downs: Hills far to the west of the Shire. Downs are all over the place.

-Narya: Gandalf’s ring of the Three, the Ring of Fire. “Wielder of the Flame of Anor!”

I’m a little struck by the timeline here, but I think it’s purposefully contracted. The narrative makes it seem like Frodo’s journey across the sea takes but one night. I don’t think that can be possible, but it could be true…with some magic. All things are well in the word, after all, and the winds and waves should be with them.

And one line has always stood with me from this page: “…he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.” For some reason, I had always thought that those were the last lines of the book. They’re not; I learned that some time ago, but it always feels more final than what the end truly is. In truth, there’s somewhat of a short “epilogue” to follow with Sam returning to the Shire, but I guess I feel like the story ends with Frodo’s departure.

Some people argue that Sam is the real main character in this huge story of many. I don’t disagree, but I just like that line so much. It does feel like the end to me, and it’s what made me just a touch emotional today.

Feels.

Feels.

Okay, okay, I wasn’t crying or anything, but it felt…weird.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-Narya

How cool is it, on the second to last page, that we’re still finding new things? Novel from beginning to end, this…um, novel.

We end tomorrow. (Conclusion to follow that.)

No one dies today.

“Beside him stood Merry and Pippin, and they were silent.”

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And so, he’s had enough. After Wormtongue is offered the chance to stay in the Shire, Saruman mocks him. The fallen wizard says that Wormtongue isn’t such a nice guy. Everyone’s wondering where Lotho is, and Wormtongue knows. In fact, Wormtongue killed him.

Wormtongue won’t deny that, but he’s unhappy that Saruman made him do it. After Saruman kicks him in the face, Wormtongue lunges, pulling a knife, and slits Saruman’s throat. Wormtongue is killed as well by hobbit archers as he runs out.

Bag End sure isn't as nice as it used to be.

Bag End sure isn’t as nice as it used to be.

Saruman’s body decays rapidly, and his death creates a foggy smoke that rises above Bag End before being blown away. Again, he was a Maia, and in truth a very old and powerful being. We don’t get to see firsthand what happens with Gandalf’s “death” at the summit of Zirakzigil, but perhaps something similar occurred. Whatever it was, I find this line interesting: “For a moment it wavered, looking to the West; but out of the West came a cold wind, and it bent away, and with a sigh dissolved into nothing.” Saruman’s soul, or whatever it is, looks to the west, where the Valar dwell in Valinor. He hopes to return there, but is denied. His evils have taken their toll, and a force comes from the west to blow him away. It’s very symbolic, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this could be what happened.

And this brings an end to this chapter. I fully believe that only one remains. We have merely 11 more pages!

“‘And that’ll take a lot of time and work.'”

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Sam’s going off to go grab his father and bring him to safety. Our hobbits are splitting up!

Mitosis of hobbits.

Mitosis of hobbits.

That leaves Frodo and Merry, who listen to Farmer Cotton’s story of how Lotho Sackville-Baggins took control of the Shire.

It began shortly after Frodo and his friends left the Shire, with Lotho now entrenched as the owner of Bag End. He had quite a bit of money inherited from his father’s (Otho Sackville-Baggins) holdings of land in the Southfarthing. Lotho began to buy more property across the Shire, and Hobbiton in particular. He also started shipping goods out of the Shire, notably the pipe-weed. Hobbits started to be bothered by this, but that was when Lotho’s cavalry arrived in the form of the ruffians. They set about making rules and shutting the locals down. When the Mayor of the Shire, Will Whitfoot, had seen too much, he made up his mind to go to Hobbiton and have a talk with Lotho, but he was taken and locked up before he had the chance. Others soon followed him. Things got worse from then on, with Lotho ruling the Shire unchecked.

The structure of today’s page brings back something we haven’t seen in some time: storytelling! In the beginning, this was all over. Gandalf told stories of the earlier ages, and he, Elrond, and others told tales at the Council of Elrond. We got used to hearing stories of previous events in long form. It hasn’t happened so much lately, with little time to sit down and listen.

I got a little tired of the long tales early on, but now I welcome Cotton’s story. Storytelling is the root of all this, of course. Hey, don’t forget that the framing device of the entire novel is that it’s really being written down as Frodo’s memoir. It’s all just one big story-tell!

Did someone say framing device?

Did someone say framing device?

Finally, I want to have a little talk about political-economic themes. Yeah, let’s do that.

Lotho takes over the Shire with a simple act of capitalism. In a sense, he’s an old-money hobbit. He has lands to profit off of from his father, and it sounds like some of those must be some of the most profitable lands a hobbit could have: pipe-weed fields in the Southfarthing. When Saruman comes to power at Isengard, he needs an ally to supply his growing forces. He purchases pipe-weed, among other things, from Lotho, which makes Lotho a lot of money. Lotho then buys more land and goods. Saruman can then buy those goods from Lotho. The cycle continues until Lotho owns most of the Shire, and Saruman has himself a strong foothold there. He can send men to support Lotho when they no longer fit his needs at Isengard.

And so, Lotho buys the Shire. It’s all in the economics.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-Thank’ee

Yeah, the very first word of this page betrays us all.

No one dies today.

“‘There wasn’t no smoke left, save for the Men; and the Chief didn’t hold with beer, save for his Men, and closed all the inns; and everything except Rules got shorter and shorter, unless one could hide a bit of one’s own when the ruffians went round gathering stuff…'”

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Away from Bree, the hobbits are able to talk openly about their fears with Gandalf. Has something happened to the Shire?

Yes.

Yes.

But that’s okay! They have Gandalf! Everything will be just fine.

NO.

Gandalf means to leave the group, and instead have a long talk with Tom Bombadil. He has full faith that the hobbits can solve the problems of the Shire on their own. They’ve been through a lot worse, remember. Even though Gandalf’s pretty sure that Saruman is behind all of this, his time is over, and it’s the hobbits’ turn to shape their world.

Wait, haven’t they done that already? Yeah, whatever.

There’s a weird hint here about Tom Bombadil that I haven’t heard anyone mention before. Gandalf calls him “a moss-gatherer,” (WAIT, THAT’S IT!), and Gandalf is “a stone doomed to rolling.” No, Tom isn’t just a moss-gatherer. It’s an analogy, but one that makes me wonder if Gandalf and Tom Bombadil are closer in relation than most people think. What if they’re two beings, much alike, but going about their business in opposite ways? Gandalf is the hands-on one, and Tom prefers hands-off. That would lead me to believe that Tom is some sort of Maia, but that’s about all that I could conjecture. I don’t even think I’m right. It’s just an interesting connection that Gandalf draws.

Connections: I make them.

Connections: I make them.

Tomorrow will bring about a short end to this chapter, and thus bring one more question: will it be the LAST chapter, or just the SECOND TO LAST?!

Be on your toes, ladies and gents.

No one dies today.

“He turned Shadowfax off the Road, and the great horse leaped the green dike that here ran beside it; and then at a cry from Gandalf he was gone, racing towards the Barrow-downs like a wind from the North.”

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Dare I say only 15 more pages? In about two weeks, I find my end.

Sometimes.

Sometimes.

Today brings us a description of the night’s events in The Prancing Pony as the people of Bree come out to see the hobbits and Gandalf. It’s a lively night in such a down and out town, and everyone wants to get their story in. In fact, people agree that Frodo should add a bit about Bree to his book. It’ll be boring otherwise, you know?

The night somewhat mimics the hobbits’ first night in Bree, though it is generally agreed upon that there will be no signing. Things ended strangely after that last time.

The group spends the night once more, and prepares to set out in the morning. The weather is still lousy, and they hope to make it to the Shire by nightfall. After some words of warning from Butterbur, they set off, once again surrounded by curious Bree folk.

It’s a full circle. The hobbits’ first night in Bree featured an uproarious night at The Pony, and then was followed in the morning by a curious and nosy crowd. No different here. Bree. Bree never changes.

That's a videogame quote popular enough that I always forget it's from a videogame.

That’s a videogame quote popular enough that I always forget it’s from a videogame.

And the folks’ questions bring about a question of my own: are we actually reading Frodo’s “addition” to his story about Bree? It does feel oddly pointed for this part of the tale. Since Frodo is supposedly writing all this, is this the part that he added to satisfy those in Bree who wanted a bigger part to play? Maybe. It’s super meta to think about, but it’s entirely possible.

Every time I try and think about the framing structure of this narrative, I get myself confused. How can we trust Frodo as a narrator? He wasn’t around for much of the story (while he and Sam were separated from everyone else), so how can he really know what happened? Assuming he’s going off of what he heard from his friends after the fact, the narrative is amazingly detailed. He’s either a fantastic writer, everyone else did an amazing job of relaying what happened, or we have to throw out the framing structure a little bit. Take your pick.

No one dies today.

“‘Whatever it is,’ said Pippin, ‘Lotho will be at the bottom of it: you can be sure of that.'”

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Butterbur finally realizes that it’s Aragorn – his mysterious Strider – that has become king of men. That elicits a lot of this:

WHA-

WHA-

This does seem to confirm that better times are coming for Bree. Butterbur is ready to turn in for the night when he remembers one more thing. Bill the pony, who Sam took along with them once upon a time ago, has returned! He found his way back to Bree, messy and hungry, but alive. Sam demands to see him.

The four hobbits and Gandalf stay in Bree the next day, and interest grows in their appearance. Butterbur’s business is good the next night.

I’m gathering that this means we’ll be moving on from Bree soon. I think we’ve exhausted the possibilities here. Butterbur’s story is tied up (and Bill the pony’s), and he’s ready for his happily-ever-after. Pretty much everyone else has had that moment. The hobbits just need to get back to the Shire to have theirs.

You get a happy ending! YOU get a happy ending!

You get a happy ending! YOU get a happy ending!

Unfortunately, it’s not like I see the end of the chapter approaching. I’m thinking we have one more left after this, but I guess it could be possible to squeeze two more in. We’re looking at 16 more pages, so two short chapters wouldn’t be crazy.

I know I could look this stuff up, but it’s about the journey!

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-horsethieving

Because that’s a totally necessary word. Why not?

No one dies today.

“For a while out of…”

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