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The Two Towers

The Two Towers


by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Two Towers Book 4, Chapter 5 Summary

The Window on the West

  • When Sam wakes up, he sees that Faramir has come back with between two hundred and three hundred men, and he's having a chat with Frodo.
  • Sam soon realizes that Faramir doesn't believe Frodo's account of himself. (Can you blame him?)
  • He presses Frodo repeatedly about what, exactly, Isildur's Bane is, and what it has to do with Boromir.
  • Frodo says it's not his; in fact, it doesn't belong to any mortal except maybe Aragorn.
  • When Faramir finds out that Aragorn is an heir to Elendil through the line of Isildur, there is a lot of murmuring among his men.
  • Here's the deal, Faramir. Frodo breaks it down: if he's against Sauron, he shouldn't try to stop Frodo on his quest. It's as simple as that.
  • After all, Boromir was satisfied with Aragorn's claim to the throne and Frodo's own quest.
  • But Faramir is not satisfied with so little information.
  • He asks, "Then you would grieve to learn that Boromir is dead?" (4.5.15).
  • Of course Frodo would, he answers, but now he is confused: is Boromir dead?
  • Frodo wonders how Faramir can have come by this news, if the Company has yet to arrive in Minas Tirith. As far as Frodo knows, Boromir is alive and well, and with the others.
  • Sam jumps in, annoyed at Faramir's tone towards Frodo. He demands that Faramir clarify if he thinks Frodo murdered Boromir.
  • Oh hush, Sam. Faramir turns back to Frodo.
  • Then he delivers this punch to the gut: he knows that Boromir is dead because Boromir is his brother.
  • Eleven days before, Faramir heard the distant call of a horn from the north. The sound was familiar because the horn was an heirloom of his and Boromir's house.
  • On the third night after this omen, he was sitting by the Anduin River when he saw a grey boat floating by.
  • Not a soul was steering it, and it glowed with a pale light, headed toward Faramir.
  • There was a warrior lying on it, with a broken sword on his knee.
  • Faramir recognized at once that it was Boromir, dead, and the only thing he did not have with him was his horn.
  • That's evidence enough for Frodo. Boromir must really be gone, which is further confirmed when Faramir describes the golden belt he found on Boromir's body. It was the gift from the Lady of Lothlórien (see The Fellowship of the Ring Book 2, Chapter 8).
  • Amazed that Frodo has passed through Lórien, Faramir tells him, "Laurelindórenan it was named of old, but long now it has lain beyond the knowledge of Men" (4.5.35).
  • But it seems impossible to both of them that a boat with Boromir's body could have passed the hill of Tol Brandir and the Falls of Rauros (see The Fellowship of the Ring Book 2, Chapter 10).
  • The horn of Gondor, it turns out, washed ashore on the edges of the River Entwash, where some men of Gondor found it and brought it to Denethor.
  • This news makes Frodo worry that all the rest of the Company has also been slaughtered.
  • But there are more pressing matters at hand. Faramir wants Frodo and Sam to come with him south for the night; he will decide what to do with them in the morning.
  • As they walk, Faramir takes Frodo and Sam aside for a secret talk about Isildur's Bane.
  • Faramir has pieced together that Boromir wanted to bring this thing, whatever it is, to Minas Tirith. He and Faramir are men of Númenor, though they do not descend from Elendil.
  • Their ancestor is the steward Mardil, who ruled in the king's place after the last King of Gondor, King Eärnur, went to war and never came back.
  • As a boy, Boromir used to wonder, "How many hundreds of years needs it to make a steward a king, if the king returns not?" (4.5.60).
  • So clearly, pride was a bit of an issue for Boromir—an issue that, Faramir recognizes, probably led Boromir astray in the matter of Isildur's Bane.
  • Gondor has a lot of lore, which is what brought the Grey Pilgrim to them researching Isildur's Bane and the Battle of Dagorlad (that last battle, when Isildur cut the Ring off Sauron's hand).
  • When Frodo hears that "the Grey Pilgrim" is Gandalf, he has to tell Faramir that Gandalf fell into darkness in Moria.
  • This prompts Faramir to ask, do you have any good news? Clearly, buddy, the answer is no.
  • But Faramir continues, "What in truth this [Isildur's Bane] is I cannot yet guess; but some heirloom of power and peril it must be. A fell weapon, perchance, devised by the Dark Lord" (4.5.71). Yep, that sounds about right.
  • He assures Frodo that he would never take this thing in a million years. He's not into victory. He just wants to see Minas Tirith restored to its original greatness as Minas Anor, the old center of the Kingdom of Gondor: "full of light, high and fair, beautiful as a queen among other queens" (4.5.74).
  • During all of this, Sam has been listening but keeping his mouth shut tight. Looking behind them, he sees a shadow that looks like Gollum.
  • When they reach a certain point on their march, Faramir asks for permission to blindfold them so they do not see the secret way to his men's hideout.
  • Frodo and Sam agree, and they walk a mile with their eyes covered, passing under a thin waterfall at one point.
  • On the other side, Faramir orders them un-blindfolded.
  • They are in a cave sheltered by the "Window of the Sunset, Henneth Annûn, fairest of all the falls of Ithilien" (4.5.88). Through the water, the sun casts a rainbow of beautiful light.
  • Faramir leads them deeper into the cave, where there is a low platform for them to sleep if they want.
  • Then Faramir hears news from his men.
  • One of them, Anborn, tells Faramir that they have been followed by an odd, nimble shadow. (Uh, that's probably Gollum right?)
  • Sam refuses to sleep, because he does not trust these men, but Frodo crashes hard.
  • Once dinner is ready, they eat, and after supper, Faramir asks Frodo to speak to him a bit more about his travels, so the hobbit tells the human all about Gandalf and Boromir.
  • And then Frodo asks for news of Minas Tirith during this long war.
  • Faramir's perspective on the matter is dark: if the sword of Elendil comes back to Minas Tirith, that will help give his people hope. But the hope won't last for long unless they get some real reinforcements.
  • The blood of the Men of Númenor is thinning. Apparently the kings gave themselves over to secret sciences and lofty thoughts rather than to having sons. Bad move.
  • The stewards have been luckier. They made peace with the Rohirrim and gave them the fields of Calenardhon, now called Rohan.
  • According to Faramir, the men of Rohan have always been true allies of Gondor.
  • Faramir explains that the Gondorians have three classifications for men:
  • (1) High, a.k.a. Men of the West, the Númenoreans;
  • (2) the Middle Peoples, Men of the Twilight, e.g. the Rohirrim; and
  • (3) the Wild, the Men of Darkness (e.g. the Dunlanders).
  • But as time has passed, the men of Gondor have become more and more like the Men of Twilight.
  • That's why Boromir, who was a great warrior, seemed like the greatest man in Gondor (even though he may have lacked other important qualities like humility).
  • Sam asks why Faramir doesn't mention the elves.
  • Faramir admits that he doesn't know too much about them, but in the old days, the Men of Númenor were very close to elves.
  • Now, men and elves grow further and further apart, and men have even begun to think of elves as dangerous.
  • This prompts Sam to try to describe Galadriel to Faramir. He thinks the idea that Lothlórien is dangerous is total bunk: "It strikes me that folk takes their peril with them into Lórien, and finds it there because they've brought it" (4.5.130).
  • Sam starts warming to his topic, and tells Faramir that it was in Lothlórien that Boromir realized what he wanted: "the Enemy's Ring!" (4.5.132).
  • Smooth move, Sam. Way to spill the beans.
  • Now Faramir knows everything—that Boromir wanted the One Ring and tried to take it, and that the two hobbits escaped.
  • Afraid that Faramir might try to take it, too, now that he knows what "Isildur's Bane" is, Frodo and Sam jump their feet.
  • But Faramir assures them that he meant it when he said he doesn't want Isildur's Bane. He's smart enough to know when something is too dangerous.
  • Then he promises that he will do his best to help Frodo—whatever he can.
  • Frodo sways with exhaustion and sudden relief, so Faramir picks him up to carry him to bed.
  • Sam tells Faramir that he has proved his quality, so the dude seems okay in our book.

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