Of all the inquisitive Hobbits, Peregrin Took, you are the worst. Hurry! Hurry!Gandalf
A thorn in Gandalf’s side
For all his patience and understanding of Pippin’s actions, there comes a breaking point, one that Gandalf has left for later. The information Pippin obtained by his curious behavior gave the company a location of the enemy’s next move. Although this is good news and gives the company limited time to plan their strategy, the stupidity of Pippin’s use of the Palantír is still a thorn in Gandalf’s side.
It might not have caused Gandalf this much anger if it were the first time Pippin had done something he shouldn’t have. His curiosity caused the Fellowship to be discovered by Moria Orcs. It doesn’t mean they would have gone undetected, but Pippin certainly gave the mountain dwellers and the Balrog much more than they hoped.
To punish Pippin for his actions is fruitless because nothing can kill his curiosity. In general, that is not a bad quality to have. It is commendable that he craves new experiences. However, the two times it overtook his judgment caused him more harm than good.
I recommend watching the extended version of The Return of the King.
Pippin: “Where are we going? “
Pippin isn’t aware of the danger he has put himself into by looking into the Palantír. He simply figured it was a shiny, interesting glass ball that had something intriguing moving inside of it. He never thought it would harm him, or anyone else for that matter. It was only a toy to him, one that he was dying to try out.
The consequences of his actions are still unknown to him. He does not understand why they have to leave Edoras all of a sudden. Confusion over the newly developed situation is plainly seen on his face.
Merry: “Why did you look? Why do you always have to look?”
Pippin: “I don`t know. I can’t help it.”
Merry: “You never can.”
Pippin: “I`m sorry, alright? I won’t do it again.”
Merry: “Don’t you understand? The enemy thinks you have the Ring. He’s going to be looking for you, Pip. They have to get you out of here.”
Merry is angry with him. He knows Pippin’s idiosyncrasies because of their shared history, but this time he crossed a line. Now, anger in Merry stands for Pippin’s stupidity over his actions, but more importantly, it is fear for his friend’s life.
Merry passes it off as anger but in truth, it only masks the concern and worry he has for him. Pippin clearly takes it as Merry being angry and therefore apologizes for his behavior, promising not to do it again. He hasn’t understood the significance of his actions and what consequences it brings.
As Merry explains the meaning behind Pippin’s doing, the severity of the problem he has caused himself and others dawns on him. His face shows terror. The feeling of knowing that one of the greatest evils of Middle-Earth will be coming after him because of misinterpretation from a glass ball stirs his thoughts into a panic.
Loss of safety
Pippin: “And you…? You’re coming with me? Merry?”
Merry: “Come on.”
Interestingly, the first question out of his mouth is if Merry would accompany him. This indicates a feeling of safety and trust in Merry. Pippin knows that he cannot do this alone and he needs Merry to accompany him, if for nothing else than the sense of safety.
Having Merry not answer his question, gives Pippin a whole new reason for panic, one that is more powerful than the fear for his own life. Up until this point they have been inseparable. Now, though their paths separate in different directions.
Anger covered care
Pippin: “How far is Minas Tirith?”
Gandalf: “Three days’ ride, as the Nazgûl flies. And you better hope we don’t have one of those on our tail.”
Gandalf is still miffed, so he slightly threatens him with the possibility of a Nazgûl following their tracks. This infused doses of fear may give Pippin a clearer picture of the incredible danger in which he currently finds himself. As if the responsibility of his actions and Merry tagging along hasn’t done a good job of it yet.
Gandalf’s anger and reaction are understandable. He cares more about this Hobbit than he lets on, which is why his reaction is this strong. It is his protective nature that drives him to take Pippin with him to Minas Tirith. He has to do whatever he can to avoid any harm to come to Pippin.
Merry: “Here. Something for the road.”
Pippin: “The last of the Longbottom Leaf.”
Merry: “I know you’ve run out. You smoke too much, Pippin.”
As a parting gift, Merry gives the last of his own stash of their beloved Longbottom Leaf. As he already knows Pippin used up all of his own, he wants to give him some to take with him. The fact that Merry tells Pippin that he smokes too much, should actually make him not give him any more.
If Merry were really concerned about Pippin’s consumption of the Leaf, he would have kept the rest for himself, not giving Pippin the opportunity to use it anymore. If Merry believed Pippin should quit smoking, he would have never given him his own stash. However, this isn’t about the Leaf at all.
A token of affection
Pippin: “But… But we’ll see each other soon. Won’t we?”
Merry: “I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
As Pippin asks his question, Gandalf’s eyes turn to Merry with a worrying look inside them. He himself cannot know what is going to happen or how it will all turn out in the end. So, to give them any hope of a reunion or to simply placate them both is to lie, and that is not a quality Gandalf cherishes.
Since Merry appears to be emotionally stronger and stabler than Pippin, there are no words necessary for Gandalf to explain his feelings, he simply conveys his concerns with a look, and Merry understands them as they were meant.
Albeit a useful trait, seeing worry and doubt in a trusting person’s eyes, it does not give one courage. Merry honestly answers Pippin’s question, but without a warning, his eyes fill with tears as the thought of never seeing Pippin again crosses his mind. A valid concern, but a painful one nevertheless.
This is why he gave Pippin the last of his Longbottom Leaf. It was the only thing he could give his friend to make their parting may be a bit easier. Friends do things for each other, some trivial, some grander to show each other how they feel, without uttering the words. Actions speak louder than words, and that is exactly what happened here.
To wish him well, to give him hope would have been in vain, but to present Pippin with the thing he loves most and sacrificing his own smoking habit for the sake of his friend, is what gives this exchange a deeper meaning. For whatever comes his way, Pippin can have something to remind him of his friend and to maybe hold onto it until their next meeting.
It is a token of affection, a gesture of hope, however small it might be.
Gandalf: “Run, Shadowfax. Show us the meaning of haste.”
Without their final words of goodbye, which in any situation are painful, Gandalf rides out of Edoras with Pippin. Merry runs as well, but only to the watchtower to see his friend for what may be the last time. Aragorn follows him.
Merry: “He’s always followed me everywhere I went since before we were tweens. I would get him into the worst sort of trouble but I was always there to get him out. Now, he’s gone. Just like Frodo and Sam.”
It is at partings that we think about all the times we had with each other, all the foolish and fun adventures we shared with one another. It is then that our hearts cry out for one more adventure, one more laugh, one more word.
Merry has always protected Pippin as well as gotten him into many different messes. That doesn’t mean he didn’t care for him, it only means they had a unique bond that kept their relationship a continuation of surprises. One has the idea, the other follows. It was all fun and games until their lives took a turn for the serious. Now, that one of them has to face the rest of their journey alone, it leaves a worried and fearful friend behind.
After being separated from Frodo and Sam, and now Pippin, Merry is left alone to fend for himself. Although in the company of courageous Men, his remainders of home and everything he has ever known, have been taken away from him.
Aragorn: “One thing I’ve learned about Hobbits: They’re a most hardy folk.”
Merry: “Foolhardy, maybe. He’s a Took.”
To give him some comfort and to boost his spirits about a positive outcome of Pippin, Aragorn states the truth about what Hobbits are. And even though no one would have thought them brave and sturdy, that is what they have shown, and will keep on proving. To avoid embarrassment and compliment, Merry turns this moment of truth and comfort into a silly joke about his friend’s heritage. It is the most common thing people do to avoid feelings of loss and sadness.
Pippin’s journey continues in my next post.