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The Two Towers: Novel Summary: Book III - Chapter 3

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Readers should note that the events of this chapter occur concurrent with those of Chapters 1 & 2.
Summary: Pippin comes to consciousness and realizes that he has been bound by the orcs. He recalls how Boromir attempted to defend him and Merry from their attackers, to no avail. One of Pippin's captors threatens the hobbit, stating that, were it not for the orders of Saruman's orcs, he would kill Pippin. Judging from their speech, "at all time full of hate and anger," Pippin surmises that the orcs are quarrelling among themselves. The orcs from the Mines of Moria, the orcs from Isengard, and the orcs from Mordor all have different motivations and different aims. The Moria orcs wish only to avenge their fellow orcs slain by the Fellowship (in Book II); the Isengard orcs-"the fighting Uruk-hai," whose leader is named Uglk-have orders from Saurman to bring the two hobbits to Saruman alive; and the orcs who serve Sauron, represented by Grishnkh, resent the Isengard orcs as upstarts: Grishnkh's superiors in Mordor, he says, "might think that Uglk's shoulders needed relieving of a swollen head." During a scrabble among the orc factions, Pippin manages to use the edge of a fallen orc's blade to cut the cords that bind his hands.
Eventually, the orcs press on toward Isengard, carrying the hobbits over their shoulders. Growing tired of the hobbits' weight, however, Uglk orders that they march themselves, and cuts the cords around their legs and feet. As they are forced to move on, with threats and with a whip, Pippin thinks to leave marks behind for Aragorn to interpret. As part of his plan, he drops the brooch from his elven-cloak, although even as he does he despondently thinks, "There I suppose it will lie until the end of time. I don't know why I did it."
The orcs are worried about the approach of the "cursed horse-boys," the Rohirrim (see Chapter 2). They do not need external enemies to defeat them, however; they seem capable of doing so on their own, as yet another quarrel breaks out between Grishnkh and Uglk. Pippin allows himself to feel some hope at the news that the Riders of Rohan are on the way, although the hope is a slim one, for he did not study maps and lore in Rivendell (see Book II) as he now wishes he had. He even worries if the Rohirrim will know that hobbits are not orcs. The night before the Riders attack, a single Rider stages a brief assault on the edge of camp, killing several orcs. During the chaos that ensues, the hobbits attempt to escape. Grishnkh apprehends them, and his words make Pippin realize that the orc believes he and Merry bear the Ring. Masterfully, Pippin plays on Grishnkh's desire to possess the Ring for himself, provoking the orc to seize the hobbits and carry them further away from the other orcs. There, at the camp's edge, a Rider of Rohan slays Grishnkh with an arrow shot. Pippin loosens both his and Merry's bonds, and the two hobbits head toward Fangorn Forest. Shortly thereafter, the Rohirrim and the orcs join battle, and omer slays Uglk. The Riders burn the heap of orc corpses, and "the smoke of the burning rose high to heaven, and was seen by many watchful eyes" (including, as we readers already know, those of Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli).
Analysis: By presenting dissent and violence among the orcs, Tolkien is picturing the fate that awaits the peoples of Middle-earth who strive for good, instead of serving evil, if they do not unite (see Analysis of Chapter 2, above). He may also be making a comment about the futility of evil. The relentless pursuit of power and domination leads only to destruction, as illustrated by the orcs' in-fighting and by the ease with which Pippin provokes and manipulates Grishnkh with the false promise that the orc could possess the Ring for his own. A further expression of the corrosiveness of evil occurs when the orcs force the hobbits to drink their liquor, a "burning liquid." It relieves the hobbits' pain, but it is not pleasant. It merely sustains; it does not nourish. It thus stands in sharp contrast to the ent draught offered to the hobbits by Treebeard in the next chapter. The orc-meat, too, is a sinister opposite of the nourishing elven lembas bread.
Note Pippin's internal monologue as he drops his elven-brooch. It symbolizes the fragile nature of hope in Tolkien's philosophy. And yet-because we as readers already know that Aragorn will, in fact, find Pippin's brooch-we see also Tolkien's conviction that hope is not ultimately in vain. As critic Tom Shippey explains, and as various characters throughout The Lord of the Rings state, hope may indeed be hard to hold onto, but tenacious hope will be, on the grand scale, rewarded-even if those doing the hoping must suffer the dashing of their hopes along the way. The small and, often, not-so-small defeats do not negate the triumph of the victory at the end, what Tolkien (in his celebrated essay On Fairy Stories) referred to as the "eucatastrophe"-the sudden and unexpected turn toward good that usually occurs in fantasy literature.


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