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Quotes

Quote #1

"Behind that there was something else at work, beyond any design of the Ring-maker. I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought." (1.2.116)

When Gandalf speculates about what force brought the One Ring to Bilbo at just the right time, he decides that Frodo was meant to have it. Whether he's talking about a divine power or fate, it's unclear. What matters is that Gandalf wants to reassure Frodo by telling him this whole Ring thing is part of a larger plan of the universe. Would it make you more or less afraid to feel that it was your fate to carry the One Ring? Would you find it comforting to know that it was your destiny to go up against Sauron, instead of random chance or bad luck? Why or why not?

Quote #2

I've only just remembered, sir. It was like this: when I go back to our hole yesterday evening with the key, my dad, he said to me: Hallo, Sam! he says. I thought you were away with Mr. Frodo this morning. There's been a strange customer asking for Mr. Baggins and Bag End, and he's only just gone. I've sent him on to Bucklebury. Not that I liked the sound of him. He seemed mighty put out, when I told him Mr. Baggins had left his home for good. Hissed at me, he did. It gave me quite a shudder. What sort of fellow was he? says I to the Gaffer. I don't know, says he; but he wasn't a Hobbit. He was tall and black like, and he stooped over me. I reckon it was one of the Big Folk from foreign parts. He spoke funny. (1.3.91)

This is the first direct image we get of one of the Black Riders: the Gaffer describes one to Sam. He finds this "strange customer" frightening for obvious reasons: the rider hisses at him, and gets really angry when the Gaffer tells him that Frodo has gone to Bucklebury. But the Gaffer also finds it frightening that he can't describe the rider: his face is hidden, and he speaks "funny." The Gaffer can't identify or classify the rider, which makes him frightening. In fact, it is the Ringwraiths' formlessness that makes them intimidating to everyone: they have no definite shape, so they are impossible to pin down or categorize mentally. All we can do is imagine what they look like (at least, until Frodo puts his ring on), and what we imagine is pretty stinkin' terrifying.

Quote #3

"Well, that's that," said Pippin. "On the whole I would rather have our job than Fatty's – waiting here till Black Riders come."

"You wait till you are well inside the Forest," said Fredegar. "You'll wish you were back here with me before this time tomorrow." (1.5.92-93)

You can tell how inexperienced Pippin and Fatty both are, that they can joke about things as serious as the Black Riders and the Old Forest. Of course, joking is a useful way to deflect fear. But Pippin's quickness to jest about the Black Riders is at best inappropriate and at worst foolhardy; when he blurts out that they have seen Black Riders to Gildor and the High Elves, they all immediately shush him and refuse to discuss the matter until they get inside. Pippin's clearly got a thing or two to learn about the wisdom of caution.

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