The Two Towers: Novel Summary: Book IV - Chapter 4

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Summary: The arduous journey toward Cirith Ungol continues. The trip is interrupted, however, when the hobbits hear voices in the woods around them. (Gollum has gone off temporarily in search of food for himself.) They are discovered by Faramir, a captain of Gondor and-as we eventually learn-brother of Boromir. Faramir and his men are setting an ambush for the Haradrim, men from the South who are allying with Mordor. When they attack the Haradrim, Sam sees his first real glimpse of battle. He also sees an "Oliphaunt," a large, elephant-like beast the Haradrim ride that was the subject of songs and nursery rhymes in the Shire.
 
Analysis: Sam continues to emerge as the truly responsible member of the trio in this chapter. While Gollum is obsessed with reclaiming the Ring, and Frodo is weighed down by the burden of carrying it, Sam continues to give, in the narrative's own words, "earnest thought"-not just to food but to other practical matters of survival. Readers should continue to take note of Sam's pragmatism, and should consider what it reveals about his development as a character.
 
Sam also displays what Tolkien, as a Christian author, might call agape or unconditional love toward Frodo in this chapter, a virtue readers need not share the author's religious convictions to appreciate. As he watches Frodo sleeping, he says to himself, "I love him. He's like that, and sometimes it [i.e., "a light"] shines through, somehow. But I love him, whether or no." Readers may reflect on how this agape is similar to and/or different from the mercy and pity which Frodo (and, before him, Bilbo) show to Gollum, and which is one of the central themes of The Lord of the Rings. Interestingly, this agape for Frodo may be closely related to the compassionate thoughts Sam is able to feel about the dead Harad soldier at the end of the chapter. This remarkable passage, perhaps even more strongly than the text about the Dead Marshes in Chapter 2, clearly reflects Tolkien's own experiences in World War I, in which he, like all soldiers, found himself fighting against "the enemy" who were really fellow human beings, caught up, as was he, in circumstances beyond his control. The chapter thus concludes with a gentle but also strong condemnation of warfare-however necessary and just war may sometimes be.




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