Week 12: The Lord of the Rings, Book IV (The Two Towers)

two-towers-cover

Write about ONE theme in Book IV, demonstrating how it occurs with three pieces of literary evidence, OR analyze one character in terms of strengths, weaknesses and role in the plot development. Write TWO  questions on your assigned chapter. You must write the questions on your assigned chapter. Make comments in response to TWO questions.

Chapter 1: Carolyn, Eric
Chapter 2: Jessica, Diana
Chapter 3: Kristen, Sonja
Chapter 4: Carmen, Jaime
Chapter 5: Emily, Heather S.

Chapter 6: Jason, Heather G.
Chapter 7: Sierra, Lexi
Chapter 8: Miranda, Mysti
Chapter 9: Nuha, Chris
Chapter 10: Katelyn, Meredith
Chapter 11: Tarah, Anna

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51 thoughts on “Week 12: The Lord of the Rings, Book IV (The Two Towers)”

  1. Samwise Gamgee stands out as the most significant character in The Two Towers in terms of role and development. Sam in Fellowship is the uninteresting servant to Frodo, and this carries over initially in The Two Towers. When approaching the Black Gate in Chapter 3, Frodo is determined in his quest while Sam feels hesitation, ultimately deciding to go because he feels obligated since he “had stuck to his master all the way.” (Tolkien, 255). Sam even begins to contrast Frodo as he grows more and more wary about Gollum and questioning Frodo’s leadership. Sam’s relationship with Frodo goes beyond master and servant, as Sam affirms that he loves Frodo deeply as his best and perhaps only friend in Chapter 4, whether or not “he’s like that,” showing that his loyalty to him is above all, even if they disagree (273).

    As their situation becomes graver and Frodo is eventually incapacitated, Sam is able to stand up for himself, and he even takes the Ring for himself, but is able to fight off temptation. Sam takes the mantle from Frodo in many ways in the conclusion of the book. Sam is the one who defeats Shelob, something that would have been seen as impossible for the Sam of Fellowship to do. At the end of the novel, Sam is the focus, which is something that has never before happened to him, and it is significant as it ends with him being the hero, with Frodo’s fate unknown. My favorite exchange between Frodo and Sam which highlights how they value the bond between one another over their entire journey is when Sam and Frodo reflect on how their stories will be passed down in history among their people, with Sam emphasizing Frodo, but Frodo saying that Sam is just as important in the story, and there would be people who would say he is their favorite. And what does Sam say when he thinks Frodo is mocking him and that he meant it seriously? “So was I“(343). This bond between them, though it may falter, never breaks, and Sam will be just as important to the destruction of the Ring as the supposed sole hero Frodo. It reaffirms Tolkien’s assertion that anyone can be a hero, no matter how lowly they may be

    Questions for Chapter 1
    1. How do Frodo and Sam’s initial struggles compare/contrast with Pippin and Merry’s at the beginning of The Two Towers?
    2. Has Gollum changed since we saw him in The Hobbit?

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    1. I would say that Gollum has changed in that as he desires the Ring, his ways of malice and cruelty (even though he makes promises on ‘the Precious) only grow stronger as he leads Sam and Frodo closer to Mordor. He no longer deals in riddles. His intimate experience with the Ring makes him dangerous and ‘tricksy’ by far greater measure than when his character is first encountered in The Hobbit. Unlike Bilbo, whom Gollum considered a thief, Frodo is master of ‘the Precious’ and Gollum will do no harm to the one who bears what he holds most dear. Of course, the Ring corrupts anyone in its presence-even at a basic level, but due to the bond between Frodo and Gollum (the former’s understanding and pity for the latter), Gollum is not as blatant with his desire to kill in order to regain the Ring. He is clever and relies upon the inexperience of the hobbits to get what he wants. There is no bargaining, no games, no riddles in the dark. It is everyone for himself, in Gollum’s perspective.

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      1. I love your point about the lack of riddles. I saw something different about his speech but couldn’t put my finger on it. You’re so right! Gollum now speaks clearly and directly, however he may whine or pout. To be honest, during his errands and fetching for Sam, I found their interaction funny and cute. I even felt sorry for Gollum who really hasn’t had anything to eat during all of this. Sorry….wandering. Anyway, I agree with you regarding the riddles.

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    2. Gollum has definitely changed since “The Hobbit.” When we see him with Bilbo, although creepy, he’s a bit more fun and almost playful. He’s desperate for the Ring, but he’s almost forgotten about it at moments. But in “LOTR,” he’s much more desperate for the Ring and will do everything to get it back. He’s had time without the Ring now, and its made him more aggressive and willing to do things he may have not back in the cave with Bilbo.

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    3. I think that you see a huge change in Gollum in the trilogy in comparison to him in ‘The Hobbit’. When we first met Gollum under the mountain, he still had the ring controlling him. By book four, Gollum has been separated from the ring for a solid period of time, giving Smeagol a chance to resurface and for some of the corruption to fade. You still see snippets of the corruption especially in the split personality, but I believe that there is a huge difference in between then and now.

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    4. I believe Gollum has changed since we saw him in The Hobbit. He has grown angrier and more obsessive over the loss of his “precious”. He has been tormented by his dual personality. While he is seen as having a more one-track mind in The Hobbit, Gollum seems a bit more focused and diabolical. He is also physically more animalistic than human in his mannerisms.

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  2. An overall theme in LOTR is Good versus Evil; however, this becomes clearer as the series continues in Book IV.
    An analysis I found online,

    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00437956.1980.11435688

    ‘A parametric analysis of antithetical conflict and irony: Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings’ explains well the ideology behind Tolkien’s distinction between these two forces.

    Author H.C. Mack writes:

    ‘Tolkien’s work is essentially concerned with the natures of Good and Evil, their manifestations, and their conflicts. He deals with these values at various hierarchical levels and by means of contrast, within the context of light-dark symbolism. Tolkien particularly analyzes the concepts of power and its relative potential for good and evil. Concomitantly, of course, he examines man’s capacity for free will in relation to the choices of Good and Evil and to the wielding of power.’

    Mack then delineates the structure of Good and Evil–a hierarchy built on war–no doubt drawn from Tolkien’s own experiences.
    He writes:

    Hierarchical structure of Good versus Evil. “What’s happened to the world?”
    “A Great Shadow has departed.”

    ‘Thus does Tolkien sum up the winning of a great war: the War of the Good against the Evil, ofthe Positive Principle against the Negative. It is in terms of light and dark that Tolkien presents his “macrocosm,” the work as a whole, and his “microcosms,” the individual parts ofthe work (i.e., plot, characters, and setting).’

    ‘Tolkien uses antonymic lexical pairs to show the opposition of two factors-in this case, one positive and one negative. He has set up his system of opposition hierarchically, from the simple opposition of characters to the more complex opposition of abstract ideas. On the lowest level Tolkien introduces characters set in contrast to each other. One pair consists ofSaruman and Gandalfthe Grey. Saruman, as head of the White Council of Wizards, is higher in standing and power than Gandalf. However, Saruman falls under the spell of the One Ring, succumbing to megalomania and then to treason. He leaves the path of goodness, rationalizing that, although the means-the possession and
    use of the One Ring-may be evil, the ultimate end-his ruling of the world- may be good. Gandalf, on the other hand, is horrified at the implications of using the Ring. In the end Gandalf, after passing through fire and death, becomes the White Wizard and Saruman become color- less (i.e., is divested of his position and power). What Saruman finally becomes, Gandalfmight easily have become; instead, Gandalfbecomes what Saruman should have been.’

    ‘Another oppositional pair is that of Boromir and Faramir, sons of Denethor of Gondor. Both are men of strength and bravery. However, while Boromir attempts to take the Ring by force in order to bring aid to Gondor and fails, Faramir realizes that the end does not justify the means- in this case, that aid to the West is not justified if it is brought about through the use of the Ring. As Sam says, Faramir “shows his quality.”‘

    ‘The most important opposition of characters is that of Frodo and Gollum. This opposition is very like that between Saruman and Gandalf. Gollum, long-time possessor of the Ring, has come almost totally under its evil sway. He is incapable of acting in a free way or toward a good end; he no longer belongs to himself. Frodo, too, possesses the Ring, although not for so long as Gollum, and gradually falls under its power; he must eventually become another Gollum.’

    Mack’s conclusion is thus:

    ‘Frodo’s quest is to destroy the Ring, but, in the process, it is destroying him. When Frodo is finally in a position to cast the Ring into the Crack of Doom, itis beyond his power to do so, and he claims it for his own. At that moment Gollum (driven completely mad by this claiming of his “precious”) attacks Frodo, gets the Ring, and in so doing inadvertently topples into the fires and destroys the Ring, as well as himself. When Frodo has finally become a Gollum and thus has failed the quest, it is Gollum who assumes Frodo’s role and succeeds (although unintentionally) in fulfilling it. As Zimbardo points out, “It is significant that the final destruction of the Ring occurs when Frodo and Smeagol
    [Gollum) are fighting for it. Frodo must conquer his own dark counter- part; the Ringbearer must prevail over his own image turned Ringwraith, before the destruction of that image, and with it the destruction of the Ring, can be accomplished. ” Frodo and Gollum are closely allied in background, as Gandalf indicates by recounting Bilbo’s encounter with Gollum. According to the narrator, “‘There was a great deal in the background of their minds and memories that was very similar. They understood one another remarkably well, very much better than a Hobbit would understand, say, a Dwarf, or an Ore, or even an Elf”‘ (I, 64); furthermore, the connection is reinforced because both of them are somehow “meant” to have the Ring fora while. Both are Hobbits (or at least related to Hobbits), both come from similar cultures, and both are surprisingly resilient for their size.’

    QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION, CHAPTER 11:
    1. What does it say about Sam when it is clear he is able to bear the weight of the Ring without being under its influence? Does this imply a weakness in Frodo, or does it show a different quality of resilience among hobbits?
    2. How does Sam’s resolve echo Tolkien’s belief that despair is a deceit?

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    1. I do think Hobbits have a strong resilience to the power of the ring mostly because they are innocent and simple creatures. They do not battle with evil and probably had not really seen any evil prior to leaving the Shire. I think the more exposure anyone has to evil, the more susceptible they become to its influence. People are good at justifying what they see as a norm, so when evil becomes a norm around them, they are more likely to engage in that behavior. As for Frodo’s possible weakness compared to Sam, I do not see it that way. Frodo has been carrying the Ring longer and it has had more time to influence and corrupt him. Frodo carried the Ring with no weight when he first received it. As time wore on, the Ring was able to ingrain itself into Frodo’s mind and with time, it would do the same to Sam.

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    2. Sam is able to bear the ring because it is new to him. I feel that eventually it would begin to have its own effects on him, but because he takes on the responsibility willingly, and in a time of need, he is able to carry it much like Frodo initially did at the beginning of his journey. And also, much like Frodo, Sam is using the ring for good, which is continuously represented as an important aspect of resistance to the ring’s corruption.

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      1. I agree with this 100%. I was starting to put Sam in the role of a mature child, having to watch over everyone else. Pure of heart and willing to help, full of innocence and a child-like wonder at everything outside the Shire. A host with no knowledge of evil would make corruption virtually impossible.

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    3. There is definitely a different quality among hobbits, resilience as well as dedication. Both Sam and Frodo are dedicated to the destruction of the ring as well as to each other. For this reason I think Sam is able to take possession of the ring without experiencing too much influence of evil from it. The idea of him relieving Frodo for a bit is what makes him stronger and less susceptible to the influence. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Frodo is weaker, he’s just been strong for too long and he needs to regain his strength to accomplish what they set out to do.

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    4. Sam plays into the role of the unlikely hero at maximum capacity. He was never a major driving force until Frodo is subdued by Shelob. Sam, wanting to restore power in their relationship, takes charge, and when Frodo ultimately recovers, the power will become balanced.

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  3. Gollum has a very large role in Book IV, and its the most “screen time” Gollum has really gotten since “The Hobbit.” He was following the party prior to this point, but here, Tolkien has him front and center as he leads Frodo and Sam to Mordor. Although Gollum has been considered a nuisance and sort of like a trickster, he’s actually very helpful towards the hobbits, particularly Frodo since he’s in possession of “precious.” Although as a reader we know Gollum is trouble, and the hobbits don’t fully trust him either, he doesn’t completely show his dark side most of the time. Gollum is very convincing when he appears to be helping the hobbits, as though he genuinely cares and wants to help them. However, he obviously has his own agenda, and that is to get the Ring and keep it for himself.
    If Gollum has a strength, its all about his ability to manipulate and how desperate he is for the Ring, which makes him willing to do anything and everything to get it, even put his life at risk. However, his desperation is also a weakness. Because he’s willing to risk his life, he could die, and Gollum, though creepy, isn’t very intimidating or strong. And if characters truly saw him as a threat, they would have done something about him. Instead, everyone underestimates Gollum, which leads to Frodo getting paralyzed and almost killed by Shelob.
    Ch. 8 Questions:
    1. Why do you think Gollum is almost loving and caring towards Frodo, instead of just trying to take the Ring while he’s sleeping?
    2. What is the significant about the conversation between Frodo and Sam, and how they may be in future poems/songs because of their role?

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    1. I think that Gollum finally came to the realization that he is not stronger or more clever than the hobbits. He spends so much time trying to get the ring back, until he finally accepts that he is not able to. So instead, he is trying to keep the ring safe. He is protecting his precious and therefore protecting Frodo. Additionally, I think that it is entirely possible that Frodo has brought out more of Smeagol by this point in the trilogy. I think that Frodo’s kindness to Gollum has eased away some of the distrust that Gollum has against everyone. But I also believe that the moments of sternness (IE: whenever Frodo pulls sting out on Gollum) show Gollum that there is similarities between the two of them. That the ring is having its affects on Frodo just like it had on Smeagol. So there is a sense of understanding in Gollum for what Frodo is going through.

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    2. The conversation that Frodo and Sam have about future stories and songs that may be written about them and their journey in the future is a moment when Tolkien is addressing the reader. Tolkien is expressing his own hope that his story and creation will live on after him, and because it has, this moment has elements of dramatic irony. The reader knows that Frodo and Sam are in a story, and that their journey is being retold, despite the fact that in this moment, they are unaware of it. It is also a moment in which Tolkien is emphasizing the importance of the reader in any narrative, and it adds an added realism to his universe. In terms of the characters, the conversation highlights the passion that Frodo and Sam have for story telling, and myth making, and an understanding that their journey is greater than themselves. They sometimes doubt whether they will be returning home, and the idea that they will live on as heroes in a story comforts them in a time of need, and it gives them hope.

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    3. The significance of Frodo and Sam’s conversation about future songs and poems is not only that their roles are bigger than themselves and therefore something to commemorate but also the fact that their actions are working towards a future, the future of middle earth. I think this conversation continues to give them hope that there is a future and that there is something to look forward to. When one hears songs about past events it makes the listener feel as if it was a far away time something so distant and almost fairytale like despite it being a perilous journey. I think it allowed them to remove themselves from the now and escape into the promises of a future.

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    4. I think Gollum being somewhat kind of caring to Frodo is simply an act. He wants to fake his way into friendship, which might be the only way to possibly get close to the ring without the repercussions of stealing it while Frodo sleeps.

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  4. Book IV Chapter 10:
    In this chapter Shelob is wrapping Frodo in her web and we see great character development in Sam. He has shown bravery in courage in his words and actions, but in this chapter he becomes a true warrior. While Frodo is being wrapped, Sam takes Sting and starts stabbing Shelob in her eyes and does not cease his blows. The strength of his heart is reflected in the Phial of Galadriel how its light and power grows with Sam’s determination to save Frodo. When Sam believes Frodo cannot be saved because of the coldness of his body, again we see the strength in Sam as he decides to finish the task of destroying the ring on his own. This is great character development for Sam because it shows he is not corrupted or enchanted by the rings power when he takes it; he does it out of love and loyalty to his friend. Sam is the only person who bears the burden of the ring by knowing that it corrupts but proving his heart is stronger than that power. Also when he realizes Frodo is alive, he overcomes the power of the ring to save his friend, rather than leaving because he has the ultimate item. Sam is an amazingly strong character who instills hope in the reader of teaches them the goodness of true friends.

    How is Sam able to withstand the power of the ring?

    What is the symbolism of having Sam destroy Shelob and use the Phial of Galadriel?

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    1. Sam is able to brush off the power and temptation of the ring because it seems like he feels there are more important things to worry about than power and all that comes with it. Yes, he is tempted at first, but he had the strength and courage to give it up because the power was not worth the corruption that came with it.

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  5. I believe that Gollum becomes an important character in this book. We are now back to following Frodo and Sam on their journey to Mordor and Gollum is their guide. I find in incredibly significant that they have chosen to have Gollum not just join, but dictate the path of their journey. The Gollum/Smeagol split personality adds for a heightened sense of concern that nothing is as it seems. However, in Chapter two, you begin to see the Hobbit start to trust Gollum a bit more. The Hobbits do not really see him as an equal, but they do see him has having a use. and the marsh that they travel through would not have been a feasible route without Gollum. I think that have someone who has lived many, many years under the corruption of the power of the ring, leading them into Mordor to destroy it, is poetic. I think that Gollum serves as a guide, and a remembrance of what could be. Frodo and Sam keep pushing on and continue through the Dead Marshes following the a path that the ring has already corrupted.

    Question One: Is the trust in Gollum symbolic of giving into the corruption of power? Or does it show something about the nature of Hobbits?

    Question Two: What to the Dead Marshes symbolize? Is there a significance to the stinking pools of ghostly images from battles past surrounding the land around Mordor?

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    1. The Dead Marshes symbolize the dead bodies and trench warfare of WWI and the trauma of the land expresses the trauma Tolkien felt during his time in the War. The Dead Marshes shows how no one is able to penetrate the black gates and Suaron’s power is strong.The Stinking Pools are symbolic of how Tolkien had to walk through dead bodies during the War but he continued on to something different (and better) in life whereas the ghosts could not. The stench of evil and death is giving a sensory affect to ward people away from Mordor. The smell of corruption is enough to keep most people away and for those who are not kept away, they end up dead in the Marshes.

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    2. I don’t necessarily believe the trust in Gollum is symbolic of giving into the corruption of power. I believe Gollum, himself, represents that idea. The Ring, which is powerful and corrupts even the most good-hearted, is the thing that corrupted and changed Smeagol and Gollum emerged as a result. The trust in this corrupted creature shows how Hobbits want to see the good, and they hope for redemption even in the darkest of circumstances.

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    3. I think that the trust in Gollum is a mixture of desperation and shows the “good” nature of the hobbits. As you mentioned, Gollum is a reminder of what could happen if they become corrupted but in a time of need for them to get where they need to, he is a valuable asset to the group. In times of need, it’s not necessarily about making friends, but more about using what you have to survive. It also shows that hobbits are compassionate about others even if there is a malice in their actions.

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    4. I feel like the trust in Gollum is symbolic of giving into the corruption of power but I also feel that is in the nature of the Hobbits. I feel that the Hobbits at all times need someone or something to help them and guide them when it comes to certain situations, and they do not really care who it is, as long as they are being helped. I also feel that they are being corrupted because again, they are so corrupted by power that they do not care who they are following.

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  6. In Book Four we learn a lot about the type of ruler Sauron is through his Orcs. The most interesting of the Orcs to me is Shagrat, a Mordor orc, along with Gorbag, whose conversation is overheard by the eavesdropping Sam. Shagrat is a Cirith Ungol orc who thinks his duties are worse (and he complains about them a lot) since he has to deal with Shelob. Shelob eats some of his Orc buddies and scares them (with good reason). Gorbag serves with the Nazgûl, and he complains that his job is worse as the Nazgûl, who terrify him, give orders, but never shares any information. In addition, the followers of Sauron kill and beat on each other. From their complaints about their job duties and the fear they express, we see that “serving” Sauron leads to fear and hate. It also comes with many life-threatening and dangerous tasks, which if are not completed will lead to their certain death. Sauron uses fear to manipulate the behavior of others, which explains his lack to trust. No one acting in fear can truly be loyal and so Sauron must be completely isolated by his desire for power and his tactics to obtain it. This drives the plot as those willing to face death to avoid being ruled by fear stand up in the face of incredible odds. The evil of Sauron brings forth the courage and selflessness of those that are willing to oppose. At the same time, it also brings forth allegiance from those who value their life over their freedom and a fearless life.

    “The Taming of Smeagol”
    Question One: Do you think Sam tied a poor knot on the stump of Emyn Muil or that the Elf rope came at Sam’s request from the top? Was Frodo too harsh with Sam at the ropes falling?

    Question Two: Pity, mercy and death are considerations every time Gollum is with a Hobbit. Bilbo chose to be merciful and show pity for Gollum in the Hobbit, which was relayed to Frodo. If Frodo had not remembered (or ever had) the conversation with Gandalf about Gollum, Gollum’s end may have been different. Gandalf said “Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give that to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice…” Is this a commentary on the death penalty by Tolkien?

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    1. Frodo was harsh at Sam in regards to the rope. I believe it came down at Sam’s will. It foreshadows Sam’s strength and resolve that comes into play later on.

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  7. Gollum is perhaps one of the most dynamic and important characters in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings mythology. In Book IV of The Two Towers Gollum becomes an immensely valuable character, which gives added weight to Gandalf’s advice to Frodo in Book I of Lord of the Rings:
    Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give that to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends (58).
    In “The Taming of Sméagol” Frodo is reminded of these words (although slightly different in his memory), and he has pity on Gollum by showing him mercy rather than killing him with Sting. In this respect, Gollum is not only important to the plot, but his character continuously tests Frodo’s character and virtues, and works as a powerful vehicle through which Tolkien can integrate themes of forgiveness, corruption, hope, and fear. Ultimately, through Gollum, Tolkien successfully conveys the potential power of moral and ethical goodness, and the practice of his own understanding of true justice.
    Gollum shows many unforeseen strengths in Book IV of The Two Towers which work to complicate the binary theme of good and evil that threads throughout the whole series. Gollum responds to Frodo’s pity and mercy, and promises to help him and be his guide. He seems to initially understand the importance of a binding promise or troth, even if it is made by something that is ultimately bad for him. He takes Frodo’s advice and swears by the ring, rather than on the ring, which shows that he has an understanding of the power of words, and the powers of what he is committing to. These small details work to show another side of Gollum that he has forgotten. And the fact that Frodo begins to refer to him as Sméagol shows that Frodo recognizes a former identity in Gollum that he hopes to bring to the surface. Through Frodo’s appeal to Gollum’s former identity, Sméagol, the more wicked side of Gollum begins to come into conflict with a repressed personality, and Gollum becomes a character that is split, and at odds with himself.
    Gollum is perhaps the only character that could have guided Frodo and Sam to Mordor virtually unnoticed. Through a unique interplay of Gollum’s lonely, fearful, and corrupt personality, and the greater task that is at hand, Tolkien demonstrates how the most unlikely of characters can be beneficial to the ultimate good. And there are moments along the journey when Gollum genuinely helps and saves Frodo and Sam from danger and death with his advice and guidance. In the dead marshes and at the black gate, Gollum helps Frodo resist the ring wraiths and their power over the ring. While his ultimate goal is keep the ring for himself, Gollum proves to be a worthy protector and guide until he leads Frodo and Sam into Shelob’s Lair.
    Gollum’s weaknesses are characterized through the power that the ring has over him. Gollum is binded to the ring above Frodo, and no mercy or pity can relinquish the control that the ring has on his mind, body, and spirit. Because of the ring’s power over him, Gollum resembles a scared animal that can only react to his environment. As Frodo gets closer to Mordor, Gollum becomes more fearful of losing the ring, and the corrupted aspect of his mind overpowers any potential good that he has left within him. But there is an inherent irony in Gollum’s weaknesses because they ultimately work to further the plot of the narrative, and to assist Frodo and Sam in their own respective character development.
    Gollum is at the center of the plot of Book IV. His actions and guidance directly or indirectly lead to every subsequent action within the narrative. Gollum not only successfully guides Frodo and Sam to an unwatched entrance into Mordor, but his plan to have Shelob murder them fails, and through a chance turn of events, they are lead closer to their destination. The turn of events that occurs in Shelob’s lair works to empower the other forces that are at work within narrative, including Sam’s amazing courage, strength, and loyalty, and Galadriel’s spiritual power. But none of this would be possible without Gollum’s inherent weaknesses, and his selfish devotion to the ring, which characterize his importance to the plot of the story. Gollum is an inherently tragic figure because he has become so spiritually empty through his attachment to the ring. But he is not by any means a disposable figure, or a an unnecessary figure, and for this reason, Tolkien’s writing of Gollum into the narrative complicates conceptions of ultimate good and ultimate evil. Gollum provides a grey area in which reason and morality must work simultaneously to assess an anomaly. It appears that through Gollum, Tolkien wishes for his readers to contemplate what inspires evil actions, and to understand, like Frodo and Gandalf, that there may always be a sliver of hope in the hopeless. And despite the choices that any individual may make, each person has a presence in the world that impacts something greater than themselves.

    Questions for Chapter 4:
    1. What is significance of the light that Sam sees “shining faintly within” Frodo?

    2. In what ways are Sam and Gollum positioned in contrast to one another in this chapter through their interactions and attitudes towards Frodo? How do each of their actions add to the plot or to other themes in the text?

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  8. Chapter nine opens up with Gollum leading the group through a smelly cave is guaranteed to guide them into Mordor. Although everyone is feeling uneasy about the cave, they still listen to Gollum and travel through the darkness. This demonstrates the theme of authority within the novel; although things seem to be leading towards disaster, the group still follows Gollum’s directions (they fear him). As the chapter carries on, Sam and Frodo lose track of Gollum and begin to hear the sounds of something hissing. Filled with fear, the two try to escape and just when they finally begin to see the literal lights of Mordor, towards the end of the tunnel, they run straight into a mess of cobwebs. The entire “adventure” meticulously planned by Gollum, of course! The end of this chapter demonstrates another theme of betrayal. Sam and Frodo feared Gollum and felt that if they respect him as a leader, he will guide them through the right direction. Obviously, Gollum can never be trusted and everyone needs to just join forces and take him down!!

    Question one: What is the cave called?
    Question two: Why does Gollum never say the name of the cave? Would things have been different if he had told them which cave they were in?

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  9. Jason C Warren

    Book 4 THEME: FATE

    1) “It’s my doom, I think, to go to that Shadow yonder, so that a way will be found. But will good or evil show it to me… Is it the will of the Dark Tower that steers us?” (Ch. 1) Frodo acknowledges that it is his “doom” to take the ring to Mordor, but he believes that help will come in the way of good OR evil. What he finds is something neither good or evil, but rather, both. Smeagol shows he is capable of some degree of humanity throughout Book 4, but has been so deeply corrupted by the Ring that he is mostly wicked at this point, however, Tolkien does an interesting job at making the character of Smeagol complex enough to keep the hobbits and the reader guessing as to whether the good or evil nature within Gollum will win over in the end.

    2) “I will trust you once more. Indeed it seems that I must do so, and that it is my fate to receive help from you, where I least looked for it, and your fate to help me whom you long pursued with evil purpose” (Ch. 3) Frodo has now realized that it was no mere coincidence that brought together Gollum and the hobbits. Gollum has knowledge of Mordor that no others possess save those loyal to Sauron. The irony is that Smeagol is unwittingly assisting the hobbits in destroying the thing that will free his soul/mind. They are in essence assiting one another for the greater good of all concerned.

    3) “It would have been better had Boromir fallen there with Mithrandir… and not gone on to the fate that waited above the falls of Rauros” (Ch.5). Fate is perceived as an all-powerful, unchanging thing. Although many wish their fate to be altered, there is no such power that exists thus far to do such a thing. So many people’s fate seems to lead them to despair that Tolkien takes to calling one’s fate their “Doom” which connotes the tragedy that seems bound to the fate of those of middle-earth.

    CH. 6 “The Forbidden Pool” QUESTIONS

    1) If Frodo had figured out some other way of saving Gollum without getting him captured by the men of Gondor, would Smeagol have won out against Gollum and proven true by warning Frodo of the danger of Cirith Ungol or was his lust for the ring too powerful to come back from being Gollum?

    2) Faramir ends the chapter with “Until that time, or some other time beyond the vision of the Seeing-stones of Numenor, farewell!” (Book 4, Ch. 3, 302) Although this is a lighthearted goodbye, the mention of the Palantir is somewhat ominous. Does mention of these corrupted stones forebode some ill turn for the people of Gondor? Could the people of Gondor have a palantir, which is why Faramir is familiar enough with them to reference them in his salutation?

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  10. If I had to identify a theme in Book 4, it would be difficult, as there are several good ones mentioned above. But I believe mine is Pity.

    The more I read this Book, the more I pity Gollum. He was never a strong being to begin with. He is only “fueled” and strengthened by one extreme emotion or the other. He is anxious to please, almost joyful, when circumstances permit it, or promote it. But he is also cruel and deceptive, if he believes it is necessary due to outside threats or any deception on the part of his companions. Being a dual-sided creature, he is more aware of the duality of hobbits or men or any other being than anyone. His obsession with the Ring matches only Frodo’s obsession with destroying the ring. The two determinations are at subtle heads, as both characters are aware of the other’s agenda. I want to believe Gollum may have been able to redeem SOME portion of his character. He is permanently twisted, but there is some part of him that wants praise and pretty words, as perhaps any animal would. His cunning mind only goes so far, as it’s limited in regards to honor and truth at their deepest levels. If someone tells him to do something, and asks NICELY, he will do it willingly and to the best of his ability. There go again his extremism: ask nicely, and he’ll work hard to complete the task and “please Master.” Treat him unfairly, and he’ll be absolutely useless, stubborn, and on his way to being deceptive. The world gets no other treatment from him. Despite this disturbance, he also comes across as pitiable, I believe, because it’s clear that he has no other purpose to live for. His need for the Ring is on par with his need for himself. I don’t know any other way to put it.

    His insistence that because Master Frodo did not explicitly ask him to lead them to ANY entrance to Mordor, he failed to tell them about other entrances other than the Black Gate. “Master says so; Master says: Bring us to the Gate. So good Sméagol does so,” even though he claims he knew the hobbits couldn’t enter Mordor that way. He continues, saying, “Master did not say what he meant to do. He says ‘Sméagol, take me to the Gate’–and then good-bye! Sméagol can run away and be good.” Whether or not he means to take the ring or genuinely does not want Sauron to have the ring remains to be seen. But at this point of the story, it seems to be the latter. At this point, a good question would be: Did Gollum intend to “run away and be good” without taking the Ring with him? I believe Gollum is desperate to control the situation due to wanting the Ring, and wanting to protect himself. Those two things are the only things he places value and loyalty to. That incites pity.

    Another example of pity is Faramir’s choice to spare Gollum after questioning. But I find more pity in the simplicity of Gollum seeking food and water, and wondering where his masters had gone. Once he knows the fish is not for eating, he drops it. Once he knows he is under scrutiny, he drops all arguments. Once he realizes that he needs Frodo to escape his situation, he humbles himself. I pity him simply because he IS utterly defenseless and by all rights, can only see the neglect and abandonment of his masters.

    It isn’t until the very end, at the stairs of Cirith Ungol, that the reader finally catches a glimpse of Gollum’s real pain:

    “Gollum found them hours later…Gollum looked at them. A spasm of pain seemed to twist him, and he turned away, peering back up towards the pass, shaking his head, as if engaged I some interior debate.”

    Later, it seems that Gollum was torn between his task to feed Shelob, and his desire to remain with Frodo and Sam. Coming across the hobbits in a state of relaxation and peace, I believe, causes him to remember his old life and to succumb to his fatigue of character. He’s tired and sad; he seems to despair that he will not know the peace and companionship that the hobbits know.

    Questions for Chapter 3:

    1. Sam guesses that Gollum’s two halves have common purposes: neither wanted Sauron to have the Ring; both want to protect Frodo; to keep a watchful eye on their Precious. His summations are quite accurate. Why do you think Frodo takes longer to come to this realization?

    2. Gollum reveals that he was instructed to find the Ring and bring it back to Sauron, but he has another plan: to search for the Ring and keep it for himself. He has gone through a lot of trouble to hide this information. Why is he now revealing it to the hobbits, as they still have not revealed their own plans to him?

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    1. I think that it takes Frodo longer to figure out Gollum because he is less attuned to the people around him than Sam. Sam is like the ultimate Hufflepuff, he’s friends with everyone and he pays a lot of attention to the members of his group. Frodo is understandably distracted by being the Ring barer, and doesn’t expend all that much energy on worrying about Golllum’s motives.

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  11. The reoccurring theme that I recognized in Book four was the difficulties with finding who to trust amidst the constant battle between good and evil. In the beginning of book four, Sam and Frodo must make a quick and difficult decision about whether they are able to trust Smeagol or not as their guide to further their quest. This decision was no easy feat for them, but Frodo believes in the hope of redemption since it was what he has seen in his own experiences with the Ring. Another example where figuring out who to trust is key is when Sam and Frodo encounter Faramir and his men. This instance is interesting because there is a lack of trust among both parties that can be seen at this point in the section. They must both prove themselves worthy of the other’s trust even if it means sacrificing the trust of someone else (Gollum). The last point in the novel where trust comes into play is when Gollum leads Sam and Frodo up the stairs of Cirith Ungol and into his trap where Sam and Frodo are left to face Shelob. This is where the difficulties with finding who to trust becomes clear. Sam and Frodo thought they could trust in Smeagol’s ‘swearing on the ring that no harm would come to them’ was valid considering his obsession with it. Their trust in Gollum failed them, and they were left to battle Shelob where they both almost lose their lives.

    Questions for Chapter 6- The Forbidden Pool:
    1) Why do you think Frodo saves Gollum from being killed by Faramir’s men? Based on what we know about the ending of this section, was this a wise decision?
    2) What is the significance of Faramir’s reaction to Frodo’s question about taking the ring to Minas Tirith towards the end of the chapter? How does it differ from his brother’s views in the Council of Elrond?

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    1. Frodo saves Gollum from being killed by Faramir’s men for two reasons the first being that Frodo feels responsible for Gollum and the second that he pities Gollum so much more know that Frodo knows what it is like to have the ring pushing on your will at all times. Frodo knows that he could some day become like Gollum if he keeps the ring for much longer and that makes Frodo want to help Gollum, because if Gollum can turn back to good then that means there is a chance that Frodo will not be permanently affected by the ring. It is hard to say what is wise and what is not. Gollum gets Frodo and Sam into where they need to be, but is happens at a price.

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  12. Chapter 9 in book 4 continues the theme of venturing into the unknown. Sam and Frodo follow Gollum through a cave that they know not of what lies before them. The trust they place on Gollum to guide them, in a way is forced upon them, just as the Ring and the task of destroying it. When Frodo raises the phial of Galadriel, they are presented with glaring eyes from Shelob, a giant spider used by Sauron. This chapter cements the character of Gollum as one that has been entirely consumed by the darkness and greed of the Ring. He guides Sam and Frodo but disappears from them so that they would get caught by Shelob. When Sam is about to warn Frodo, Gollum grabs Sam and prevents him from doing so. In this instance, Gollum is more than willing to let Frodo and Sam die so that he can get what he wants. Before, he would have a slight hesitation in allowing himself to behave with such malice, but now Gollum has become the darkness and embodiment of the corruption that the Ring has placed within him.

    Questions:
    1) Why is a giant spider with hundreds of eyes chosen as the guardian of the passages by Sauron? Does this choice of creature have any symbolic meaning?

    2) What effect would Sam killing Gollum have on the story? Why do you think Tolkien did not allow the killing of Gollum in this chapter to take place?

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    1. So, technically Shelob was there in the mountain pass BEFORE Sauron ever got his body back and set up shop, so he didn’t really “choose” her as the guardian of the pass, but he allowed her to remain as her cruelty to her victims amused him. She is the spawn of Ungoliant, the creature that helped Morgoth to destroy the orginal trees of light in Valar, so it could be argued that Shelob possess a strength close in might to Sauron himself so it wouldn’t have been easy to remove her even if he had wanted to (especially since she had developed a taste for orc flesh). We have already seen Shelob’s offspring torment Bilbo and the Dwarves in “The Hobbit” while they journeyed through Mirkwood, to give you an idea of her far-reaching influence over Middle-earth.

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    2. I think that a spider was chosen to be the big bag guy that the fellowship has to face before they reach their goal because Tolkien is afraid of spiders. I think Shelob symbolizes nothing more than his own fear, and the fact that spiders are almost universally scary would make a bigger impact on readers.

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    3. If Sam killed Gollum in this chapter, the entire book would transform much differently. Gollum is not a kill and move on character, most of this book actually revolves around him and his relationship with the hobbits (as well as trying to capture the ring).Tolkien does not kill Gollum in this chapter because his role in the book is not quite ready to come to an end.

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    4. I would agree with Emily’s response to question 1. Tolkien often adds details from his own life into his work and since he was afraid of spiders himself, he believed this would be the most threatening or scary beast to guard the passages.
      To answer question 2, I think if Sam killed Gollum readers would view Sam in a slightly different light than he is intended to be in. The fact that Gollum does not die gives me reason to believe that Gollum will remain one of the key characters and still has more to contribute to the story.

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  13. Gollum is an interesting character to analyze throughout the entire series, but most interesting in his character development in Two Towers. Readers used to view Gollum as sort of a funny character in the way he riddles and how he is obsessed with his Precious. To me, I think his obsession with the Ring is his strength and weakness. It is his weakness because the Ring is all he ever thinks about and builds his entire life around getting back to the Ring. This is also his strength in the way that he will not harm whoever is in possession of the Ring because he knows that this could harm his chances of getting it back. Gollum’s character development is important to the story because Gollum is a prime example of the corrupting powers of the ring.

    Chapter 7 questions:
    1) The group is ordered to proceed into Helm’s Deep by Gandalf without knowing his reasoning for doing so. Why is the group so willing to blindly trust Gandalf?
    2) Why is it so important that The Hornburg remains safe?

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    1. Redoing my questions because I was not in class last Monday and confused myself. My bad.
      Question 1) Frodo is worried that they will run into danger. Sam reminds him “Where there’s life there’s hope.” What is the significance of Tolkien using this quote?
      Question 2) Do you think Frodo and Sam trust Gollum? Why or why not?

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  14. I think one of the more prominent themes in the fourth book is loyalty. Because this book focuses mainly on Sam and Frodo’s journey to destroy the ring separate from the rest of the fellowship, Tolkien bring a lot of attention to their special relationship. Sam is unfailingly loyal to Frodo, and plays a larger role in the quest towards the end of this book. Tolkien presents Sam as an ideal hero in his universe, and loyalty plays a large role in his character’s function in the story. Throughout this book, there is also the question of Gollum’s loyalty. He only really cars about the ring and himself, but he attaches himself to Frodo because of his role as “Ring Barer.” Frodo and Sam remain loyal to the fellowship, despite their separation. When Faramir questions them about their presence in Gondor, they defend their group at risk of personal danger. I think that loyalty is such a huge theme in the series because it is something that Tolkien viewed as an important virtue to possess.

    Chapter 5 Questions:

    Why did Sam break and tell Faramir that Boromir had tried to take the Ring?

    Is Faramir a character foil for Boromir?

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    1. I don’t think Faramir is a foil for Boromir because Boromir is already dead and can’t really impact the story further, however, I think that the contrast between the two was intentional: Boromir’s corruption was meant to show us the true danger of the influence of the Ring and to make us despair over the future. But after several chapters of despair following Sam and Frodo through the outskirts of Mordor, Faramir’s ability to resist the influence of the Ring is meant to give us (and the fellowship) hope that their fortunes might begin to change for the better. Yes the Ring is powerful enough to corrupt the best of men, but not all men succumb to its power.

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    2. I think that it is representative of Sam’s character for him to “break”. It shows both a strength and weakness of Sam. He is honest enough that he does what he believes is best in his heart but he also fails to hold his own in most sections of the story. He does bring the needed loyalty and support for the group, especially towards Frodo, but he lacks great confidence which makes him “break” under any pressure. This is seen early on in the book when Gandalf pulls in Sam from the garden and asks him what he has heard causing Sam to break and speak of everything he witnessed and heard.

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  15. There are many outstanding characters in the Lord of the Rings series; however, in The Two Towers, the character Samwise Gamgee (Sam) really stood out to me, especially if we are to be discussing plot development and character growth. Sam started off as a seemingly minor character, simply the unassuming “helper” of Frodo. However, later on in The Two Towers, Sam grows in potential and in strength as a character. Sam encompasses many of the important themes and messages in The Lord of the Rings, such as bravery, fierce loyalty and an unassuming “hero.” Additionally, Sam is a unique character because even though he is but a hobbit, he seems able to resist the temptation of the ring. As the traveler’s situation becomes increasingly dire and perilous, instead of crumbling, Sam becomes stronger and is able to stand up for himself and for his friends, and eventually take responsibility for the ring. Perhaps most significant is how Sam will eventually become the focus of the novel towards the end, which is something that has never happened to him before.
    Questions Regarding Chapter 4: “Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit”
    1. Do you think the hobbit’s inability to catch rabbits for food themselves further reflects their “underdog” status?
    2. What significance do you think the “red eye” holds?

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  16. Sam Gamgee is by far one of the characters that has developed so well, he has the reader rooting for him in all that he does. He’s grown not in size but rather as a loyal, devoted and courageous friend to Mr. Frodo. He was at first instructed by Gandalf to accompany Frodo on his journey and Sam willingly did his best to do so even when Frodo attempted to continue onward alone. His faithfulness to Frodo seems to go beyond to the readers which allows us to feel the judgement and special qualities that he has towards Frodo. His character also allows us to see the struggles and effects that take a toll on Frodo both internal and external as he carries the ring. He not only gives perspective on Frodo’s well being, but brings light to these dark chapters. He does his best to keep an optimistic view as Smeagol guides them but still cannot fathom Frodo’s kindness toward him. In this sense Sam has developed a guardian watch over Frodo, and in the end Sam stays true to that role in how he takes the responsibility of ring carrier.

    chapter 2.
    1. Why does Frodo pay no mind to Sam’s suspicions of Gollum? Are his suspicions justified?
    2. How come Frodo and Sam have different perspectives on the future? (Sam is thinking of the journey back from Mordor whereas Frodo does not seem to. Is the ring at play here or does Frodo just have a realistic outlook on the end of their journey?)

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    1. The difference in their perspectives, in my opinion, represents their differences in faith. While Frodo’s perspective is more realistic, it lacks faith. While faith is very much a real thing, the consequences of it are very much unrealistic. Miracles happen against all odds.

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    2. Sam is a hopeful person in general and is on the journey to keep Frodo’s spirits high. Sam thinks about the journey home and worries about it because he knows Frodo will not think about it. Frodo is feeling the weight of the ring and the journey in a way that Sam cannot. Frodo is depressed by the journey and he thinks one way or another that when the ring is destroyed that it will take Frodo with it as a last effort to win. The ring is at play and Frodo has a realistic outlook. It is unlikely that Frodo and Sam would need to worry about the return trip.

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  17. A major theme I have come to notice in this novel is the theme of courage. Throughout this entire novel, courage is taking place in one way or another. Each character has a unique sense of courage when it comes to their specific roles within the novel. One of Tolkien’s definitions of courage was “the difference between humility and the arrogant desire for glory”. I see this aspect through the character Galadriel. She had the courage to overlook the power of the ring and the glory that came along with it. She felt that if she wanted to accomplish something, she could do it on her own, much like Sam and Faramir. I also see courage through the actual ring itself. The ring wants to have so much control and hold the power over others that the actual ring has courage like characteristics in order to control the characters. Courage also stands within the character of Gandalf. He has courage in absolutely everything he does because he is the leader of many things, and courage helps him get through it all.
    Chapter 7 questions:
    1. The graffiti, headless statue that they come across really has no connection to the plot, however, it does have a rather deep meaning, what is this meaning?
    2. What is the significance of the crossroads that Gollum leads the hobbits to?

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    1. Considering they found the statue head on the floor covered with a floral crown, I think it may be a sign of destruction and then renewal. With the graffiti and destruction of the statue itself representing a downfall, and the floral crown representing some sort of renewal.

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  18. A major theme in Book IV is love and loyalty. While this has been a theme in the other books so far, I feel that it is most strongly represented in this one. Frodo leaves the Fellowship behind out of pure love, so they are not put in danger because of the ring. It is a combination of love and loyalty that allows Sam to follow Frodo to Mordor after Frodo encourages him not to. Even after Wormtongue’s lying, Eomer still attempts to help Theoden to the best of his abilities. Love and loyalty go hand-in-hand in this book, it is what seems to separate the good guys from the bad guys.

    Chapter 11
    1. What is Sam’s biggest weapon against Shelob?
    2. Sam carries on even though he is devastated by Frodo’s death, and he doesn’t seem to confident in his skills to follow through on his own. What is his motivation?

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