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Tolkien chose to hide Frodo's awakening at the field of Cormallen

Otyugh

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Hello Fellow Tolkien Nerds,

Ages ago, along that irreplaceable first read:

We're at the Field of Cormallen, Frodo and Sam rescued and about to wake up surrounded by friends. In particular I'm greatly looking forward to Frodo meeting Gandalf, with a possible riff off the similar event back in Rivendell.

But Professor Tolkien chooses to employ Sam to mark that moment, avoiding Frodo completely. This storytelling choice has remained striking to me over the years. I have my ideas on it, but figured it's worth bringing up here. Thoughts on why Tolkien did so?

Mike
 

Olorgando

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Confounding expectations, is my spontaneous response. Something that he seemed (seems) to have done very much in the view of many early (and also later) critics, much to their annoyance in innumerable ways. Their pathetically querulous non-understanding has been thoroughly shredded by the likes of Tom Shippey and others since then. I'd be hard-pressed to spontaneously name another scene in the book that is specifically similar, but LoTR confounds expectations all through. Take the business of "The Quest". Ah, no, LoTR is an anti-quest, to start with. Get rid of something. Then the fact that it is impossible to pigeon-hole (something so beloved of the - negatively - bureaucratic, narrow minds that some critics seem to have) in the five-tier description of literary modes by Northrop Frye in his 1957 book "An Anatomy of Criticism". From top to bottom:

1. Myth: characters are superior in kind both to others and the environment of others
2. Romance (by now a much-debased term): characters are superior in degree (not kind) both to others and to their environment
3. High Mimesis (characteristic of tragedy and epic): characters are superior in degree to others, but not to their natural environment
4. Low Mimesis (the level of the classical novel): characters are very much on a level with ourselves in abilities
5. Irony: "where we see ourselves looking down on people weaker or more ignorant than ourselves, where heroes turn into anti-heroes and are often treated comically"

As Tom Shippey in his 2000 book "JRRT - Author of the Century" notes (I have the stuff above about Frye from this book), "Gandalf, Aragorn, Théoden, Merry and Pippin, can all be found together in scenes like the arrival at Isengard, representing as it were all five of Frye's levels at once, …"

Or the petulant gripe about JRRT's use of archaic language (something used with much less skill by later authors). Actually, he used this in a form that was still quite understandable (if confusing to some), due to his nearly unmatched skill at such language subtleties. Had he really decided to get archaic, he could have hit us with pure-bred Old English, aka Anglo-Saxon (or Middle English, or Old Norse - he did, in fact, hit us with snippets of Quenya and Sindarin without bothering to translate it in the book - very high up, if not at the top, of the no-no list of conventional authors and / or their cookie-cutter publishers). JRRT simply knew more of and about the English language of perhaps the last 1200 (or more) years than all critics that have ever written about his books combined, and then some. He might be the exhibit A in "literature" or "creative writing" or whatever "101" for what not to do as an aspiring author - many of the cookie-cutter set in the "teaching" field come out of the same "sausage machine" (I'll stop mixing metaphors very soon) as do the critics.

In baseball parlance (my apologies to cricket fans - but the insider terminology of that sport once quoted by Richard Dawkins left me totally non-enlightened), JRRT loved to throw some wicked curve-balls to unsettle us in any complacency that may have crept in.

And of course PJ & Co. chickened out and went with the cookie-cutter conventionality of having Frodo the one to wake up in the film … 👿
 

CirdanLinweilin

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He might be the exhibit A in "literature" or "creative writing" or whatever "101" for what not to do as an aspiring author - many of the cookie-cutter set in the "teaching" field come out of the same "sausage machine" (I'll stop mixing metaphors very soon) as do the critics.
For me that's the exact opposite, cuz I'm a rebel.


XD


CL
 

Squint-eyed Southerner

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It may seem surprising, in isolation, but is part of the evolution of the characters of Sam and Frodo, and the relationship between them, over the course of the story.

The recognition of the hero is a structural part of the story arc in romance, and Frodo gets that, but the direction his character undergoes is fading. This comes to be especially noticeable, even by the hobbits, on the return to the Shire, but begins much earlier. It may have been a casual decision to give the first lines of Book IV to Sam, but I wonder. I've seen it pointed out that, though some of the trek towards Mordor and the Mountain takes place in broad daylight, the entire portion of the story from River to Mountain can be considered a Night Journey. It is for Frodo, to the point that he can see nothing but the "wheel of fire", and slowly loses volition for anything but getting to the Cracks of Doom. Increasingly, it is Sam who takes the initiative, certainly after Frodo's seeming death in Shelob's Lair, and torture in the Tower of Cirith Ungol, but earlier as well.

And we begin more and more to see through Sam's eyes, rather than Frodo's. This process is subtle and gradual; for the longest time, I misremebered the scene on the Morgai: I was sure that Frodo experienced the true moment of epiphany, the counterpart of the demonic epiphany on the Hill of Seeing, and was surprised, on rereading, to find that it was Sam who saw the white star twinkle, "far above the Ephel Duath". Frodo had fallen into an exhausted sleep.

So, in a way, it should come as no surprise that, as Frodo's character becomes more passive, more distanced, this second "awakening scene" on the Field of Cormallen, becomes Sam's. A "contrasted parallel" indeed.
 

Olorgando

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JRRT once commented that Sam was the true hero of LoTR (and the true successor to Bilbo in TH).

From a perspective of the Shire, this is massively so. Yes, Merry and Pippin lead the effort to rid the Shire of Sharkey's ruffians, but that is a military heroic thing not really natural to Hobbits at all. Who repaired the damages to the Shire done by the ruffians? Sam. With the help, of course, of the soft and fine grey dust in the box that Galadriel had given him in Lothlórien - including the seed that replaced the destroyed party tree of the "long-expected party" with the only Mallorn tree outside of Lothlórien in Middle-earth. For what was important to Hobbits, Sam was the ultimate hero - no wonder he was voted in as mayor seven times, for a total of 49 years, from 1427 to 1476 Shire Reckoning.
 
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Squint-eyed Southerner

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Right, which is in line with the typical story arc of the Low Mimetic hero, whose triumph normally includes an elevation in social position.

In looking at Family Trees for another thread, I noticed something I must have forgotten: that one of Sam's sisters married "Young Tom" Cotton; I take it this happened after Sam's to Rosie. Anyone know? If they were both Harfoots ("Harfeet!"), it would be a lateral move.

Which brings up another question: Elanor eventually married "Fastred of Greenholm". I can find nothing more about him, but his somewhat "high-sounding" name leads me to think he may have been a Fallohide, who made up the gentry among the hobbits. If so, it would fit with the social elevation I mentioned.

BTW, Olorgando, since you laid out those fictional modes, I'll add that, after exploring them more fully, Frye concludes with this:

Once we have learned to distinguish the modes, however, must then learn to recombine them. For while one mode constitutes the underlying tonality of a work of fiction, any or all of the other four may be simultaneously present. Much of our sense of the subtlety of great literature comes from this modal counterpoint.

So almost all fiction does this -- even the most "realistic" forms can hardly escape it. For example, Frye notices how deeply ironic fiction, such as Kafka, exhibits a tendency towards the mythic, and reflects that "evidently, the modes go around in a circle".

Of course, I'd say that the combining of modes is more pronounced and fluid in LOTR -- more so, certainly, than in many other authors, but as I've said elsewhere, I'm more interested in seeing Tolkien as fitting into the total body of literature, than as the lusus naturae he has traditionally been taken to be.
 
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Olorgando

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In looking at Family Trees for another thread, I noticed something I must have forgotten: that one of Sam's sisters married Young Tommy Cotton; I take it this happened after Sam's to Rosie. Anyone know? If they were both Harfoots ("Harfeet!"), it would be a lateral move.
"Young" Tom Cotton as in Jr.; his dad was the Tom Cotton (Sr.) who played a significant part in the rousing of the Shire.
Sam and Tom Jr. were both born in 1380 (SR), so were around 40 when Sam married Rose in 1420, when Rose was around 36, and Sam's youngest sister Marigold (they had four older siblings) 37. Tom and Rose were the two oldest siblings of a total of five. Having first children around the age of 40 does not seem to be that unusual for Hobbits, at least males (Hobbits did reach 100 fairly frequently). But then Sam put off marrying Rose due to the quest (and perhaps for the odd other reason before it), so for the similarly aged Tom Jr. and Sam's sister Marigold waiting with marriage after Sam's wedding with Rose - not outlandishly late, but a tad so.
And while Tom Sr. was a farmer, he does seem to have had a certain standing and authority around the Hobbiton area. But the Fallohides were, on the other hand, not known for being very agriculturally inclined originally, so hard to say.
Which brings up another question: Elanor eventually married "Fastred of Greenholm". I can find nothing more about him, but his somewhat "high-sounding" name leads me to think he may have been a Fallohide, who made up the gentry among the hobbits. If so, it would fit with the social elevation I mentioned.
Foster has no additional information. Tyler claims, on what authority I do not know, that Fastred of Greenholm (two other Fastreds mentioned in Tyler and Foster are both Rohirrim!) was a descendant of Holman the Greenhanded of Hobbiton, who according to Sam's family tree in RoTK Appendix C was Sam's great-great-grandfather. HtG's grandson Holman Greenhand was the 'cousin' with whom Sam's father Hamfast "The Gaffer" took up gardening in Hobbiton. Too little information, I would say, but my guess is that Fastred was the one "marrying up", as Sam's status had increased markedly - though I'd guess through his "miraculous" healing of the Shire of the damage done by Sharkey's ruffians through his gift from Galadriel more than for those unbelievably strange adventures way south which most Hobbits probably did not understand.
 

Aramarien

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For most of FOTR, the story was more from Frodo's POV. Once Sam and Frodo started on the journey to Mordor, the POV slowly changed to Sam's POV. Frodo was fading. Gandalf noticed this in Rivendell when Frodo was healing from the Morgul blade. Gandalf noticed there was a hint of "transparency". Gandalf said to himself, ".......He may become like a glass filled with clear light for eyes to see that can."
In the chapter, "Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit", Sam once again notices, as he did when watching Frodo in Rivendell when Frodo was recovering, "that at times a light seemed to be shining faintly within; but now the light was even clearer and stronger..."

The POV slowly falls more and more on Sam throughout the rest of the journey. Frodo's mind is consumed with the Ring and it is trying to consume his spirit. Frodo's POV is filled with the Ring of FIre. Sam is still tied to the earth and "reality". It makes complete sense that Sam's POV continues upon wakening in the field of Cormallen.

Upon consideration, though, Frodo's POV starts to come alive again once they come back to Minas Tirith and for the remainder of the book.
 

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