The Return of the King
The Home Quotes
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It was as [Denethor] said; and Pippin soon found himself arrayed in strange garments, all of black and silver. He had a small hauberk, its rings forged of steel, maybe, yet black as jet; and a high-crowned helm with small raven-wings on either side, set with a silver star at the centre of the circlet. Above the mail was a short surcoat of black, but broidered on the breast in silver with the token of the Tree. His old clothes were folded and put away, but he was permitted to keep the grey cloak of Lórien, though not to wear it when on duty. He looked now, had he known, verily Ernil i Pheriannath, the Prince of the Halflings, that folk had called him; but he felt uncomfortable. And the gloom began to weigh on his spirits. (5.4.18)
Pippin's new uniform for his Tower service with Lord Denethor is like a strange challenge. Up until now, he has mostly maintained his Shire habits and even manners, as when Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli come upon Merry and Pippin smoking calmly among the ruins of Isengard (see The Two Towers Book 3, Chapters 8). But now, Pippin has been separated from everything that means home to him, even Merry. Even his own clothes. Now, he's in an unfamiliar uniform in a new city. He feels uncomfortable because the time has come for Pippin to shake things up, to start growing into his new double role as hobbit and Guardsman of Gondor. Of course, Pippin doesn't change too much—as Gandalf says, "hobbits have amazing powers of recovery" (The Two Towers 3.11.63).
But Éomer said: "Already you have raised the banner of the Kings and displayed the tokens of Elendil's House. How will you suffer these to be challenged?"
"No," said Aragorn. "But I deem the time unripe; and I have no mind for strife except with our Enemy and his servants."
And the Prince Imrahil said: "Your words, lord, are wise, if one who is a kinsman of the Lord Denethor may counsel you in this matter. He is strong-willed and proud, but old; and his mood has been strange since his son was stricken down. Yet I would not have you remain like a beggar at the door."
"Not a beggar," said Aragorn. "Say a captain of the Rangers, who are unused to cities and houses of stone." And he commanded that his banner should be furled; and he did off the Star of the North Kingdom and gave it to the keeping of the sons of Elrond. (5.8.30-3)
Yes! Finally Aragorn is where he belongs—Minas Tirith, right? Not so fast. He's sitting at the gates, waiting to smooth things over with Denethor before going in and claiming the throne of Gondor. (Little does he know that Denethor is, right at this very moment, setting himself on fire — it'll be tough to smooth things over with that guy.) But Aragorn is really stretching out the suspense here. The "return of the king" can't happen too soon, or else it would spoil the build-up. Plus, the fact that Aragorn has the prudence to wait until the time is a little less unripe shows that when he does come home to take the throne, he'll make some great decisions.
"There is some good stone-work here," [Gimli] said as he looked at the walls; "but also some that is less good, and the streets could be better contrived. When Aragorn comes into his own, I shall offer him the service of stonewrights of the Mountain and we will make this a town to be proud of."
"They need more gardens," said Legolas. "The houses are dead, and there is too little here that grows and is glad. If Aragorn comes into his own, the people of the Wood shall bring him birds that sing and trees that do not die." (5.9.4-5)
Yeah, yeah, Legolas loves the forest, and Gimli loves the stones of the earth. We get it. But what's so great about this scene is that we actually see just how much these two have in common. Both of them feel a bit out of place in Minas Tirith, because both belong to cultures and traditions that are passing away. Later Legolas comments, "The deeds of Men will outlast us, Gimli" (5.9.14). It's as if the two of them are representatives of endangered species. The fact that their stories get so little focus in The Return of the King, while the negotiations of men such as Aragorn, Éomer, Faramir, and Imrahil become more and more important to the plot of the series, demonstrates that men are slowly taking over the story from the elves and the dwarves. Poor Legolas and Gimli get left behind.