The Two Towers: Novel Summary: Book III - Chapter 11

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Summary: Confused and even irritated at the way in which Gandalf took the palantr away from him, Pippin is nursing a desire to look into the dark and mysterious stone. While Gandalf is sleeping, Pippin takes the palantr from the wizard's arms and gazes into it. As he does, the world around him grows dark, and he falls, having gone rigid. Later, he tells Gandalf what he saw when he looked into the seeing-stone: nine huge, winged creatures blocking out the stars in the sky; and he encountered ("He did not speak so that I could hear words") Sauron himself. He told the Dark Lord he was a hobbit, and Sauron instructed him to tell Saruman, "[T]his dainty is not for him." Gandalf presents the palantr to Aragorn, instructing him not to use it unwisely or too quickly. Aragorn concludes, correctly, that the palantr has provided the link of communication between Isengard and Mordor. The company sees a Nazgl-a Black Rider riding a winged beast. Knowing that Sauron mistakenly thinks Pippin has the Ring, Gandalf seizes the opportunity the Dark Lord's error presents and leaves with Pippin for Minas Tirith, there to begin organizing a final stand against Sauron.
 
Analysis: Pippin is sorely tempted to look into the palantr, and his rashness in giving into temptation leads to the crisis which concludes this chapter: Gandalf must take him quickly away, to Minas Tirith. As the youngest of the hobbits who began this journey, Pippin still has some maturing to do, as his rash deed illustrates. He is not yet able simply to trust in the wiser and more experienced judgment of others, even, we see, of Gandalf. Note, however, that Gandalf shows some sympathy for Pippin: he understands why the hobbit was curious. As a devout Roman Catholic author, Tolkien may be offering in this chapter an examination of how temptation works and the consequences of yielding to temptation, but also the possibility of forgiveness and restoration after such yielding has occurred. Interestingly, Pippin is not the only "hasty" character in this chapter: Gandalf states that Sauron himself "was too eager," and so failed to question Pippin enough to learn that this hobbit is not the hobbit with the Ring. For hero and villain alike, then, rashness in this chapter leads to negative consequences (although readers, of course, will, along with Gandalf, see Sauron's negative consequences as a turn of good fortune).




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