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The Two Towers
by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Two Towers Book 4, Chapter 9 Summary
Shelob's Lair Gollum leads them to a cave. Yep, a cave. Of course he leaves out the name of the tunnel, which is Torech Ungol, or Shelob's Lair. There is a horrible smell coming from the tunnel, but Gollum swears it's the only way into Mordor. All signs point to disaster. As they travel down the tunnel, the heavy darkness is worse even than what they found in the Mines of Moria. Sam notices that there are multiple passages along the walls. It's so dark in there it's hard to even move, Frodo and Sam hold hands as they creep through the blackness. They call for Gollum, but he does not answer. Figures. They hear "a gurgling, bubbling noise, and a long venomous hiss" (4.9.25). Yikes. Sam suddenly realizes it's a trap, and finds himself wishing Tom Bombadil was here to save them, as he did with the Barrow-wights in The Fellowship of the Ring Book 1, Chapter 8. He suddenly remembers Galadriel, and Sam thinks of the gift she gave Frodo: "The star-glass! A light to you in dark places, she said it was to be!" (4.9.27). So Frodo slowly pulls out the Phial of Galadriel, and looks in wonder at the glow of its light. But even with this shining goodness in his hand, "other potencies there are in Middle-earth, powers of night, and they are old and strong" (4.9.31). Frodo is being watched by She who has feasted on many an elf in her day. That means she's not too frightened by elf lights. This "She" we've been hearing so much about? Yeah, it's a giant spider. Creepily, Frodo and Sam can see her looking at them. Her thousand eyes reflect the light of Eärendil. Frodo calls Eärendil's name, holds the Phial aloft, and draws Sting (his Elvish sword), which glows with blue fire. Shelob suddenly feels doubt, and she starts to creep backwards, disappearing from view. Sam pulls Frodo along. Now's their chance to escape. As they run along the tunnel, they find massive cobwebs. Ugh. Frodo hands the jewel to Sam and uses Sting to cut holes in the webs. They are so happy that they shout for joy as they cut their way through the stuff. Frodo can see the pass of Cirith Ungol and the red fires of Mordor. They are so close! But they don't know that there are other exits out of Shelob's lair. Frodo runs along quickly. That's when, suddenly, Sam sees the spider reappearing behind Frodo. She runs right past Sam; she doesn't even seem to see him. Just when Sam is about to call out to warn Frodo of his danger, a hand clamps over his mouth. It's Gollum. The jerk. Gollum has obeyed the letter but definitely not the spirit of his agreement with Frodo: Gollum isn't (technically) the one who is hurting Frodo. Still, Sam is utterly furious that Gollum has led them into this trap. It's a terrible betrayal. Though Gollum tries with all his might to strangle Sam, our favorite sidekick manages to get free and whack Gollum's arm with his staff. Take that. Sam wants to murder Gollum, but Gollum manages to run away. The awful stench of Shelob fresh in his nose, Sam runs to rescue Frodo, who has been dragged off by the spider.
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