The Fellowship of the Ring
by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring Friendship Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph) / (Prologue.Section.Paragraph)
It is true that if these Hobbits understood the danger, they would not dare to go. But they would still wish to go, or wish that they dared, and be shamed and unhappy. I think, Elrond, that in this matter it would be well to trust rather to their friendship than to great wisdom. Even if you chose for us an Elf-lord, such as Glorfindel, he could not storm the Dark Tower, nor open the road to the Fire by the power that is in him. (2.3.43)
There are plenty of great deeds in Lord of the Rings, and lots of opportunities for strong guys like Aragorn and Boromir to show their might. But Gandalf makes an argument for a different kind of strength in this particular quest: because the Ring must get to Mordor in secret and under the radar, they don't need to storm the gates of Barad-dûr. They need to sneak in, across a grim and gray land. Swords will be less helpful than friendship on such a dark road. Gandalf makes this point about including Merry and Pippin with the Fellowship, but it really seems pertinent to the relationship between Frodo and Sam, since Sam becomes Frodo's emotional support against the pull of the Ring as they travel across Mordor.
Sam eased the pack on his shoulders, and went over anxiously in his mind all the things that he had stowed in it, wondering if he had forgotten anything: his chief treasure, his cooking gear; and the little box of salt that he always carried and refilled when he could; a good supply of pipe-weed (but not near enough, I'll warrant); flint and tinder; woollen hose; linen; various small belongings of his master's that Frodo had forgotten and Sam had stowed to bring them out in triumph when they were called for. (2.3.75)
Again, we have to stop and take note of the nature of Sam's affection for Frodo: he is immensely loyal to Frodo as his employer. But he also has this protective tendency: he wants to be able to "bring [...] out in triumph" the "small belongings of his master's" that Frodo had forgotten. Is this the protectiveness of a servant whose job it is to look after his master? Is this the protectiveness of a good friend for another friend? What are some of the class implications of Sam and Frodo's relationship?
Gimli was obstinate. He planted his feet firmly apart, and laid his hand upon the haft of his axe. "I will go forward free," he said, "or I will go back and seek my own land, where I am known to be true of word, though I perish alone in the wilderness."
"You cannot go back," said Haldir sternly. "Now you have come thus far, you must be brought before the Lord and the Lady. They shall judge you, to hold you or to give leave, as they will. You cannot cross the rivers again, and behind you there are now secret sentinels that you cannot pass. You would be slain before you saw them."
Gimli drew his axe from his belt. Haldir and his companions bent their bows. "A plague on Dwarves and their stiff necks," said Legolas.
"Come!" said Aragorn. "If I am still to lead this Company, you must do as I bid. It is hard upon the Dwarf to be thus singled out. We will all be blindfold, even Legolas. That will be best, though it will make the journey slow and dull." (2.6.122-5)
In this showdown between Gimli and the Elves of Lórien, neither party seems capable of seeing the perspective of the other: Gimli resents being treated like an outsider because the Elves do not wish to share their secrets with him. And Haldir cannot acknowledge the injustice of singling out Gimli for blindfolding just because he is a Dwarf. Legolas, though he sympathizes with Gimli, is still an Elf, with an Elf's perspective on Dwarf/Elf tensions; he sides with Haldir over Gimli. It is up to Aragorn, as a human and not an Elf or a Dwarf, to decide on a compromise. The nature of this struggle between Elves and Dwarves seems to be cultural and shared uniformly by all Elves and all Dwarves – after all, Legolas is from Mirkwood and Haldir is from Lothlórien, but neither seem to be wild about Dwarves. Can you think of similarly baseless cultural resentments among nations or peoples of this world? How might Tolkien be using Elf/Dwarf tensions to comment on the dangers of national or racial hatreds?