Chapter 1 “The Taming of Sméagol”
1) Tolkien again presents the destructive force of nature; how is this storm similar to previous events? How does this sequence continue Tolkien’s water metaphors?
2) What does both the physical description of Gollum and his behavior tell us about him? Sam seems to be very wary about trusting Gollum whereas Frodo is more willing. Would you behave more like Sam of Frodo if you were in their position?
Chapter 2 “The Passage of the Marshes”
1) What could the lights be or symbolize? What does this passage say about mortality when the trio see elves, men, and orcs all rotting in the same place in the marsh?
2) Thinking back to Gandalf’s hope that even Gollum could be saved, is there evidence in Gollum’s monologue to suggest he can still change?
Chapter 3 “The Black Gate is Closed”
1) How are the teeth of Mordor and their former use representative of Tolkein’s relationship between good and evil?
2) Gollum claims to have ‘sworn on the precious’ that he will help Frodo and Sam find a way into Mordor. Do you feel the hobbits should be more concerned about the fact that he is clearly still deeply influenced by the power of the ring or are they right in trusting him because they have no other way?
Chapter 4 “Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit”
1) When Sam is watching Frodo sleep, he notices that the Ringbearer is looking much more more weary and aged than he was just a short time ago. Do you think that this is a product of carrying the ring or is it just the exhausting nature of the quest they are on?
2) Is Frodo’s insistence on keeping Gollum alive despite Faramir’s distaste for the creature an example of care for the creature, or is it just because Gollum is their guide and is much more experienced in the wild than the hobbits? Do any examples in this chapter point to either answer?
Chapter 5 “The Window on the West”
1) From Faramir’s questioning of Frodo, is there any association between the acceptance of Aragorn as the true King of Gondor and what group a character belongs to? Are there any biblical undertones in this?
2) How are Faramir and Boromir different? How are they alike?
Chapter 6 “The Forbidden Pool”
1) What is the significance of the pool? Why would even looking at it subject someone to the penalty of death?
2) Does Frodo’s acceptance of Faramir’s “doom” have any bearing or is it more out of courtesy? Would he be more liable to believe Aragorn’s friendship gains him access to parts of Gondor?
Chapter 7 “The Journey to the Cross-Roads”
1) As Frodo, Sam, and Gollum approach the Crossroads leading to Cirith-Ungol, the terrain around them becomes more blasted and desolate. How did the land come to be this way? Is this its natural state? Is this desolation a product of mere barbarism on the part of the Orcs or is the state of the terrain indicative of a deeper corrupting power?
2) At the Crossroads, Frodo sees a statue of an old king, defaced and beheaded by the servants of Mordor. However, a crown of blossoms decorate the fallen head of the statue. How is this shattered effigy significant in regards to the kingly line of Gondor?
Chapter 8 “The Stairs of Cirith Ungol”
1) Frodo and Sam witness a great host pouring forth from Minas Morgul. However, rank-and-file soldiery and brute force are not the greatest weapons of the enemy. What weapon do you believe is the strongest of Sauron’s arsenal? How does it serve him better than simple strength of arms?
2) While Frodo and Sam are discussing the possibility of a story being written about them in the future, Frodo asks Gollum if he’d like to be a hero. Unfortunately, he doesn’t answer as he is sneaking around elsewhere at the time. Do you believe Gollum still has the capability of being good? Or has the Ring well and truly consumed him?
Chapter 9 “Shelob’s Lair”
1) What is Shelob? Why does Gollum lead Frodo and Sam to her lair?
2) How does Frodo fight Shelob? What happens to Frodo? How does this event change Sam’s identity?
Chapter 10 “The Choices of Master Samwise”
1) How does Sam defeat Shelob? Describe his strategies and weapons.
2) What mistake did Sam mistake when considering Frodo’s plight after Shelob attacked? How does Sam realize his mistake? What does Sam decide to do about it?