The Return of the King
The Home Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"So that was the job I felt I had to do when I started," thought Sam: "to help Mr. Frodo to the last step and then die with him? Well, if that is the job then I must do it. But I would dearly like to see Bywater again, and Rosie Cotton and her brothers, and the Gaffer and Marigold and all. […]"
But even as hope died in Sam, or seemed to die, it was turned to a new strength. Sam's plain hobbit-face grew stern, almost grim, as the will hardened in him, and he felt through all his limbs a thrill, as if he was turning into some creature of stone and steel that neither despair nor weariness nor endless barren miles could subdue. (6.3.5-6)
Sam's nature is changing as a result of his journey to Mordor. His basic optimism has given way to an iron will to persevere in the face of all odds, even if he knows that there is no way he is going to come home again (or so he thinks). But you can already tell that, if Sam and Frodo survive Mordor, it will be Sam who flourishes back in the Shire rather than his more morose buddy. See, Frodo can no longer imagine the Shire—it's just too nice to even think of. But Sam can still remember fondly his home life, and for Sam, that's where the real treasure lies. Sam's roots in the Shire keep him firmly tethered to Middle-earth, but Frodo's weakness for the Ring will soon give him an urge to go west.
Sam went to [Frodo] and kissed his hand. "Then the sooner we're rid of it, the sooner to rest," he said haltingly, finding no better words to say. "Talking won't mend nothing," he muttered to himself, as he gathered up all the things that they had chosen to cast away. He was not willing to leave them lying open in the wilderness for any eyes to see. "Stinker picked up that orc-shirt, seemingly, and he isn't going to add a sword to it. His hands are bad enough when empty. And he isn't going to mess with my pans!" With that he carried all the gear away to one of the many gaping fissures that scored the land and threw them in. The clatter of his precious pans as they fell down into the dark was like a death-knell to his heart. (6.3.31)
Is it possible to chuckle and cry at the same time? We think so. There's something both comic and tragic about how much Sam hates to throw away his cooking pans. They have been his pride and joy since the beginning of their journey ("his chief treasure, his cooking gear" [The Fellowship of the Ring 2.3.74]). But still, we think there's something to this scene. Practically speaking, this is physical proof that Sam does not think they are coming back to the Shire any longer. To throw away his cooking gear, Sam must believe that there will be no food to prepare in the future. This is it for Frodo and Sam. Symbolically, Sam's cooking gear represents his attachment to home and hobbit life. After all, what is a hobbit if not a lover of eating (and smoking, although maybe not so much after Mordor)? By tossing his cooking gear, Sam is showing that his basic hobbit nature has been changed by this journey—"he felt through all his limbs a thrill, as if he was turning into some creature of stone and steel" (6.3.6)).
"I'll not deny we should be glad to have you for a bit. You see, we're not used to such troubles; and the Rangers have all gone away, folk tell me. I don't think we've rightly understood till now what they did for us. For there's been worse than robbers about. Wolves were howling round the fences last winter. And there's dark shapes in the woods, dreadful things that it makes the blood run cold to think of. It's been very disturbing, if you understand me." (6.7.35)
While our heart goes out to Butterbur, here, we also can't help but wonder if there isn't an upside to all the bad shenanigans that have been going down in these parts. The events of wartime, as hideous as they have been, have also been illuminating. Now Butterbur knows "what [the Rangers] did for [Bree]." Early on in The Lord of the Rings, Aragorn argues that the Rangers have to keep the people they protect free even from the knowledge that they are being protected—he doesn't want them to know what dangers they would face without the help of men like the Rangers (see The Fellowship of the Ring 2.2.68), because even the knowledge of danger might be destructive. But you know what? Aragorn just might have been a little too patronizing for our taste. Isn't it better that Butterbur now has to take more personal responsibility for his safety and for the safety of his inn? And don't the hobbits prove, in the end, that they can take care of themselves?