Autumn

Cross-roads

Sam: “Must be getting near teatime. Leastways, it would be in decent places where there is still teatime.” 

Gollum: “We’re not in decent places.”

Decent places and reality

To rid one’s mind of constant worry and tension, it helps to think about the everyday rituals that would have been in progress had it not been for a dangerous task. At least, that is what helps Sam. It reminds him of the comforts of home that he is missing and all the joy and relaxation it brings with it. Also, it reminds him of his need for food. He has rationed their supply but that is the barest minimum he had to live on since they left home.

To forget about his current struggle, Sam’s thoughts search for any form of normality and comfort. For all his attentiveness throughout their journey, now and then, he needs to find a way to unwind, to loosen his hold on reality. Since there isn’t much he can do physically, his mind seeks refuge in his pleasant memories. 

Gollum bursts his bubble by pointing out the reality of their situation. There is nothing to enjoy and even less to look forward to. He may be doing it out of spite, or he may also be jealous. Gollum hasn’t had any kind of normal in all his years with the Ring. All he had ever known since turning into this creature are pain, torturous thoughts and an overall darkening of the mind.

There is nowhere for his thoughts to go to avoid his reality. The greatest pleasure he can now have is enjoying food. Anything anyone else mentions that might cause them comfort or pleasure, it only reminds Gollum of his own mind not being able to produce those kinds of memories and enjoy them. All in all a miserable existence. 

There hasn’t been a trace of decency or any such places since they left Lothlórien. All that surrounds them now is gloom and barrenness. 

Suddenly, Frodo stops in place, as if frozen, with a look of fear and truth in his eyes. 

The power of emotions

Sam: “Mr. Frodo? What is it?”

Frodo: “It’s just a feeling. I don’t think I’ll be coming back.” 

Sam: “Yes, you will. Of course you will. That’s just morbid thinking. We’re going there and back again just like Mr. Bilbo. You’ll see.” 

To say that something is just a feeling is to underestimate its importance. Feelings, whatever their kind may be, are our guides whether we are aware of them or not. If we can spot them in time, we can deduce the reasoning behind them, explain their existence and act accordingly. However, if they appear without us ever acknowledging them, then our bodies tend to do our bidding for us. Which is why Frodo’s feeling of fear stopped him in his tracks. 

To fear for one’s life is to flee from or fight against the danger. Standing in place feeling fear means not being able to decide which of the two possibilities to choose. There is nowhere to go, for all shall be covered in darkness if he turns back. Going forward he faces unknown challenges, fears he might not have yet encountered.

Therefore, to stand as if paralyzed is to admit to a feeling that is inevitable but that also pales in comparison to the importance of their mission. 

Pain and support

It isn’t physical pain Frodo fears. He had already experienced it and almost died because of it. There isn’t anything more the enemy could do but what he had already done, a wound that although not fatal has altered Frodo in an irreversible way.

To enter the void, nearly inhabiting it forever, is the most dangerous and life-changing experience Frodo will ever know. Frodo’s feeling of not returning does not necessarily mean his physical presence. His soul will be the one to suffer most in his oncoming trials, and a soul once altered cannot be undone. 

Sam, as per his nature, speaks words of encouragement and hope, comparing Frodo’s adventure with that of Bilbo, both ending the same way. However, not even Bilbo really ever came back. Physically he was present and continued to live, but his demeanor and all that he believed in had changed as a result of his own journey. 

Sam is trying to be supportive, to keep his friend’s spirits up, but he will never be able to understand the extent of change Frodo is going and will be going through. And in a way, this is a good thing, for if he knew how Frodo’s inner world has changed since they left the Shire, he might not be as supportive and hopeful as he is being. It would defeat the purpose of his coming along.

To enjoy the scene and its symbolism I recommend watching The Return of the King extended version.

A strong statement

I think these lands were once part of the kingdom of Gondor. Long ago, when there was a king.

Frodo

A statue of the Fallen King of Gondor, decapitated. Worst still the boulder left to represent the head is caged in iron and colored in blood. A meaningful message left behind by the enemy for all those who tread these forsaken paths. The change has taken place. The enemy has marked its territory. All that was good and decent has withered and died. All that is left is the dark shadow that seeks to cover all the land in darkness. 

Suddenly, a flash of sunlight appears in the sky, brightening the ground Sam and Frodo are walking on. There, near a tree lies the head of the king of Gondor. The one the enemy replaced with a strong and gruesome message. 

A head bust of a man
Photo by 烧不酥在上海 老的 on Unsplash

Crownless again shall be king

Mr. Frodo, look. The king has got a crown again.

Sam

As the sunlight lightens the head of the Fallen King, the flowers that had been spreading roots on and around it, become the king’s crown. It is not only their natural white color that beautifies this long-forgotten king’s head, but it is also the golden reflection of the sun’s rays that give this scene its symbolism.

There is hope of the crownless becoming king, for without the sun, and its singular ray of hope, it would only be a stone head with some flowers around it. Amidst the ever clouding skies, the sun does shine through, depicting a hope that it all may work out for the best after all. 

However, as the clouds cover the sun, the single smiles of hope on Frodo and Sam’s faces fade away and all their fears return as if they never left.

Come on, Hobbits! Mustn’t stop now. This way.

Gollum
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