FoTR - Strider: Bk I, Chapter X

A chapter by chapter as well as general discussion of Tolkien's masterpiece
Riv Res
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Postby Riv Res » Mon Dec 05, 2005 1:13 am

Merry wrote:I'm with you, Iolanthe: I don't think I trusted Strider fully until they got to Rivendell. So at what point did each of you begin to trust him and why?


I trusted him from the get go. I was smitten. I figured Tolkien wouldn't have written that prophetic poem about him only to have him amount to nothing.

Now...having said that...had I also known (from the get go) how Tolkien struggled with the identity of Aragorn (to be or not to be a hobbit), I may not have been so smitten. :D
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goldberry
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Postby goldberry » Mon Dec 05, 2005 1:33 am

As a hobbit. Hm. I don't know how that would have gone over with me.

I could go for an entire book about the adventures of the rangers. They seemed to be very noble yet mysterious group.

And as Riv said, the verse made it sound as though there was more to the story, so even cloaked in mystery, there was air of *more*.
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bruce rerek
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Postby bruce rerek » Mon Dec 05, 2005 4:40 pm

I trusted him from the begining as well, for one reason, he could have dispatched the Hobbits with ease and taken the One Ring for himself. If it so called to him. Plus Sam's take on him as well as Bill Ferny was spot on.
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Postby Merry » Mon Dec 05, 2005 8:54 pm

But Sam didn't trust him right away, Bruce, did he?
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Postby Varda » Mon Dec 05, 2005 10:22 pm

I think Sam didn't trust much any of the 'big people', and considering his sheltered life ( never outside of the Shire) , that shouldn't be too surprising. :?

AND I was ready for a strong, silent type :D ( best kind in any story.... :lol: )~ besides you knew Frodo and Sam were not going to be able to make the journey safely on their own ( and adding Merry and Pippin just compounded the troubles! )...already they were without Gandalf's help and being pursued by an unknown person/creature.
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Postby Philipa » Tue Dec 06, 2005 12:26 am

Merry wrote:But Sam didn't trust him right away, Bruce, did he?


You are correct Merry. It takes some time for Sam to trust Aragorn.
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Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Tue Dec 06, 2005 5:00 pm

I only started to trust him when we finally get to read Gandalf's letter from Butterbur. Up to that point he could have been plotting anything! As Frodo says:

Why didn't you tell me that you were Gandalf's friend at once?' he asked. 'It would have saved time.'

I guess it would but it wouldn't have been half so much fun!
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librislove
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Postby librislove » Wed Dec 07, 2005 5:09 am

I began to trust him when he plaintively, and wistfully, remarked that a lonely man sometimes wishes for friendship for his own sake, "but there I think my looks are against me." Guess I like the strong, yet vulnerable type.
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Estel
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Postby Estel » Mon Dec 12, 2005 7:24 am

Estel means trust as well :P Like the name 8)


I had intended to respond earlier, but have had no time to post the notes I’ve been walking around with. You all mention fairy versus “more adult and scary content” which makes me wonder what you really mean with fairy...and scary for that matter. :lol: I’m afraid I must write at length about what I think. :oops:

marbretherese wrote:Whenever I read LOTR again, I confess :oops: starting at the "Prancing Pony" not only because of the introduction of Strider but we seem to be coming out of a mere "fairy story" and into something much darker amd mysterious.


Philipa wrote:I find what the three of you said interesting. I've never thought as the beginning of this story as a faery tale and not becoming an adult's story till after Strider is introduced. I am wondering if it is because you are women and the idea of a manly, mysterous unassuming hero was the cause of fascination to you.


Riv Res wrote:Very interesting discussion. I will have to admit that it was the Black Riders that sunk the hook for me...also, from the onset, when Pippin and Frodo and Sam have their very first encounter with the Black Rider...there is where the tone changed to adult content for me.


Iolanthe wrote:I don't know about the other three, but my interest well and truly picked up at this point :lol: . The story has some pretty scary, adult stuff before Strider arrives, as Riv has pointed out, but there is a shift away from fairy story with the arrival of Strider, I feel.


To me the first hobbit chapters are pretty incomprehensible, first merely boring, then downright scary and very uncomfortable. I think it’s because it looks like some kind of fairytale, but I don’t recognize the elements. They don’t fit into the fairytale pattern. I grew up with fairytales, mostly Grimm, HC Andersen, Swedish folk tales, often about abductions by trolls, fairies, dead people and also Russian folk tales. There was some Disney in the periphery, but most of the stuff was frightening, terrible, but still fascinating and I, just as other kids, had the stories read to me over and over again, later read them myself. I think the reason for this is some kind of assurement, because as a child you don’t really understand that a tale is the same and ends happily every time. Then you also hear variations of basically the same tale, for example the Russian ones, that all seem to feature a long walk in endless forests until you’re “east of the sun, west of the moon”, and the youngest of three siblings using three objects, wishes or spells to win some sort of game. All this assures you as a child that the world works according to certain patterns, that it can be understood, that there actually is nothing to be afraid of, that stories can be just exciting, until you get to a more or less foreseeable end. Naturally some stories are different, especially HCA, that I had to read very carefully, still haven’t been able to let go of them. :lol:
Parallell with fairy tales I read a lot of two-world fantasy books, mostly English. I mean stories characterized by the existence of one real world, usually safe, and another place in time and/or space, that could be frightening, but still these fantasy books work mostly as escapism, because you always come back to the familiar world. (Apart from one book about a neglected child who walked along a old canal and disappeared into history, back to the time of child labour and never came back to his family. :shock: )
But most of all I preferred old history books retelling myths about historic persons (some persons even fabricated by Medieval historians :shock: ), as if it was true history and also more recognizable myths (Bible, Greek, Roman, Scandinavian) that I all perceived as real history. It HAD happened. I couldn’t distinguish between history and myth, I suppose. Still I DO see myself as intelligent. :?

Back to Tolkien:
hope wrote:To the hobbits the talk of kings, swords and Rangers are fairy stories to them and I feel their mistrust of Stridor is not based on knowledge of "foul and evil" things but on simple things like appearance.

With Aragorn Tolkien allows us a glimpse of the history behind the presenting story of Frodo anf the Ring (to those who have not read The Sil, Hobbit etc) so therefore it seems to me that the plot deepens from this part onwards. :)

and I do love Aragorn :oops:

Hmm, interesting, fairytale for hobbits, when it’s completely real to me. :lol:

Bilbo was a fairytale, end of story, mostly recognizable elements, some interesting new ones, but I didn’t get hobbits, so it didn’t give me much. Liked the maps and the world more than the story. :oops:

LOTR at first was bewildering to me. It wasn’t fantasy to me, because there weren’t two worlds, no safe place to go back to, I mean Hobbiton... :roll: Never identified with hobbits. (:-(
So it must be some kind of fairytale, but it didn’t fit the patterns, too many unknowns in the equation. I partly recognized things from fairytales and fantasy books (forest, Black Riders (a little “Mio my Mio”), elves, ancient monuments) but Tom Bombadil?! :shock: The things didn’t fit together and just got worse and worse, no escape. I read on just to get out of it.
Then in Bree, ready to leave again, something happens. :-k
I recognize a character. :D
A-ha, wandering prince/future king, definitely hero of the story. :lol:
Now I KNOW what I’m reading. This isn’t a strange, incomprehensible fairytale any longer, not unreal any longer. This is the real history of a place called Middle-Earth and if it holds such characters as Strider/Aragorn then it truly must be a wonderful place. :D
The story turns out to be logical in some sense, weird and fantastic elements perhaps, just as in my old history books, but I don’t have to worry anymore, just follow the guy in the cloak with the broken sword and see what becomes of him. So I read on. :P
So to me it’s not so much a question of first fairytale for children, come on, it’s too scary and incomprehensible and then becoming an adult story with the introduction of Strider. To me LOTR turns into “safe” mythic history in Bree. I think you have to be an adult to appreciate the chapters before Strider. :lol:
Chrissiejane wrote: Like many of you who have commented so far in this thread, the Barrow-downs chapter had almost seen me off, it was far too uncomfortable to keep reading about these blundering hobbits who have to be recued from their own foolishness and ignorance by any convenient passer-by that happens along. Strider is essential in order to "steady the ship", as well as picking up the pace of the story. It is so interesting to study the process by which Tolkien arrived at his character and his introduction.

You are so correct :D

Riv Res wrote:Similar to what all of you have been saying...this is where I almost quit wondering and worrying about Hobbits, and Wizards, and Elves. What was going to happen to this mysterious, and enigmatic Man? Then...then...then...we get...

All that is gold does not glitter,
(---)
It was at this point that I literally ceased caring so much about Frodo and the Ring...only so much as they could further the story about Aragorn. I must admit that I then cheated and flipped to the last chapters to see if there was mention of Aragorn's name, and being satisfied that he was there at [i]'the end of all things'
, I truly settled in to devour the book. :D

Know what you mean. :wink: The last 15-20 years or so I have speedread books and also usually read the end before I've bothered to read the whole book :oops: but I didn't back then when I read LOTR. (:-(

Iolanthe wrote:We suddenly have a human dimension and things seem less fantastical and less strange (although really they still are, of course...). He's not necessarily someone we can identify with - I've never been an exiled King - but he is human and gives us an anchor where we need it.

I admit that the mystery of who he really is and it's unfolding as we are given clues, was one of the great excitements of the book for me when I first read it!

The first time I read I didn’t identify with Strider, was merely fascinated, but later...

Chrissiejane wrote:Marbretherese wrote
I must own up to rushing through the Frodo/Sam/Mordor bits originally to get back to Aragorn


Yup, same here. I read LOTR first during the sixties and was not captivated by it until I had some Aragorn backstory as a hook for all the fantastical and myth-like hobbit/wizard stuff. I really think it was a stroke of pure genius by Tolkien to introduce the mysterious human and I think it opened up the LOTR books to the universal audience which has now read and enjoyed them. Otherwise LOTR may have remained in the domain of fans of myth/fairytale.

But do more than a few people understand that they really are into Aragorn when they read the books? :wink: From my discussions with LOTR fans, except you :hug: , it doesn’t look like it.
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Merry
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Postby Merry » Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:01 pm

Great summary and analysis, Estel!

It's interesting to read where different people connect with different parts of the story. But I'm not sure that Aragorn is the central figure for most people. (Maybe that is true here, but we are the Child of Viggo-Works, so that is to be expected!). You mention several times that you don't "get" hobbits, but I think that hobbits are the entry into the story for many people, me included. Their gentle rural life is both recognized and hoped for, and their narrow interpretation of the world is both lovable and frustrating!

At WRoR, we are having an almost annual discussion of where we would like to live in Middle-earth. The variety of answers shows, I think, the variety of values and personalities of people. It also shows, again, Tolkien's genius--there's definitely something for everyone!
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Chrissiejane
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Postby Chrissiejane » Mon Dec 12, 2005 9:02 pm

Merry, thanks for your comments! I feel that Aragorn provides the Hobbits with an essential bridge to all the other tribes that will be so important in their quest, and that without an accomplished, wise human, other realms (particularly Rohan and Gondor) would have been so much more difficult for the hobbits to access. So it is not his centrality to the tale - (although I see him as the centre of gravity) - it is Aragorn as a vehicle, a bridge, a means of carriage, that works so well in the LOTR saga.
Strider the human (although a rare type of human) makes this bridge/conduit thing work (for me). It would not have worked so well if he had remained as Trotter the hobbit.
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Postby Merry » Tue Dec 13, 2005 2:45 am

Yes, Chrissiejane, Trotter as a hobbit was not a good idea!

Your remarks remind me of the profound insight Merry showed at the end of the Houses of Healing chapter:

It is best to love first what you are fitted to love, I suppose: you must start somewhere and have some roots, and the soil of the Shire is deep. Still there are things deeper and higher; and not a gaffer could tend his garden in what he calls peace but for them, whether he knows about them or not. I am glad that I know about them, a little.
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Tue Dec 13, 2005 6:06 pm

Very apt quote, Merry! As the book progresses we discover these wider worlds with their 'higher and deeper' things along with the Hobbits. I like Chrissiejane's idea of Aragorn as a bridge, for them and for us.
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Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
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