The Fellowship of the Ring
Race Quotes Page 3
How we cite our quotes:
"For I have become very fond of Strider. Well, fond is not the right word. I mean he is dear to me; though he is strange, and grim at times. In fact, he reminds me often of you. I didn't know that any of the Big People were like that. I thought, well, that they were just big, and rather stupid: kind and stupid like Butterbur; or stupid and wicked like Bill Ferny. But then we don't know much about Men in the Shire, except perhaps the Breelanders." (2.1.25)
The Hobbits often seem a bit ridiculous to us, with their intense suspicion of strangers and their insistence on tradition and respectability. So it's nice to see that Big People look equally ridiculous to Hobbits: either "kind and stupid like Butterbur; or stupid and wicked like Bill Ferny." As wise as Frodo is, he needs to learn to get over his prejudices about the other races of Middle-earth as much as anybody does.
Many Elves and many mighty Men, and many of their friends, had perished in the war. Anárion was slain, and Isildur was slain; and Gil-galad and Elendil were no more. Never again shall there be any such league of Elves and Men; for Men multiply and the Firstborn decrease, and the two kindreds are estranged. And ever since that day the race of Númenor has decayed, and the span of their years has lessened. (2.2.39)
As Elrond recounts the first war against Sauron and the deeds of the Last Alliance, he muses that Middle-earth will never see another alliance like the last one, now that the Elves are fading away and men are becoming more numerous but weaker. In addition to the fact that there are several distinct races in Middle-earth, these races also seem to be at different stages of development from each other. The Elves live longer than men do, but they are dying out. Men are not as good as Elves, but they are younger and there are more of them. Where the Dwarves and Hobbits fit into this timeline is unclear: why don't the Dwarves get to take dominion over Middle-earth? Will Hobbits ever hold the position of prominence that Elves currently have over Middle-earth?
"It was not the fault of the Dwarves that the friendship waned," said Gimli.
"I have not heard it was the fault of the Elves," said Legolas.
"I have heard both," said Gandalf; "and I will not give judgement now. But I beg you two, Legolas and Gimli, at least to be friends, and to help me. I need you both. The doors are shut and hidden, and the sooner we find them the better. Night is at hand." (2.4.76-8)
As representatives of their different races, Legolas and Gimli become like the Odd Couple of Middle-earth: they could not be more different, but they grow to be the best of friends. At the same time, there is some ambiguity in Tolkien's representation of these races: he claims that, in the olden days, Elves and Dwarves were the best of friends and that was a good thing. At the same time, there is very little blurring of lines among the cultures of, say, Elves, Dwarves, and Hobbits in Middle-earth; Tolkien strictly maintains the boundaries between his invented races. Men can pass among a bunch of different peoples: Aragorn lives in the Elf stronghold of Rivendell, and the men and Hobbits of Bree cohabit happily. But these are the exceptions to the rule that each of the peoples in Tolkien-land has its own place.