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The Two Towers

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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