The Two Towers
How we cite our quotes:
Sorrowfully they cast loose the funeral boat: there Boromir lay, restful, peaceful, gliding upon the bosom of the flowing water. The stream took him while they held their own boat back with their paddles. He floated by them, and slowly his boat departed, waning to a dark spot against the golden light; and then suddenly it vanished. Rauros roared on unchanging. The River had taken Boromir son of Denethor, and was not seen again in Minas Tirith, standing as he used to stand upon the White Tower in the morning. But in Gondor in after-days it was long said that the elven-boat rode the falls and the foaming pool, and bore him down through Osgiliath, and past the many mouths of the Anduin, out into the Great Sea at night under the stars. (3.1.45)
Even though Boromir has been a bit of a troublemaker for the Company, he has traveled with them faithfully through The Fellowship of the Ring. It's nice of Tolkien to take some time to mark his passing. One of the things that we like about Tolkien is the genuine affection he seems to have for his characters: both Gandalf and Boromir receive the mourning they deserve, including songs and tears because their fellow characters loved them, and Tolkien probably did, too.
"But why should he leave us behind, and without a word?" said Gimli. "That was a strange deed!"
"And a brave deed," said Aragorn. "Sam was right, I think. Frodo did not wish to lead any friend to death with him in Mordor. But he knew that he must go himself. Something happened after he left us that overcame his fear and doubt." (3.1.53-4)
When Frodo disappears with the Ring, his companions might have assumed that he made off with it for his own evil purposes. But Aragorn reads his purpose correctly: Frodo wants to go it alone (or with Sam, because Sam insists) as a gesture of love toward his friends. He wants to save them, both from the horrors and Mordor and from the influence of the Ring (which has just taken Boromir). And of course the fact that Frodo makes off with the Ring out of love rather than fear or desire for power, we know he'll have some protection from the Ring's dark powers. At least for a little while.
I remember it was long ago—in the time of the war between Sauron and the Men of the Sea—desire came over me to see Fimbrethil again. Very fair she was still in my eyes, when I had last seen her, though little like the Entmaiden of old, for the Entwives were bent and browned by their labour; their hair parched by the sun to the hue of ripe corn and their cheeks like red apples. Yet their eyes were still the eyes of our people. We crossed over Anduin and came to their land; but we found a desert: it was all burned and uprooted, for war had passed over it. But the Entwives were not there. Long we called, and long we searched; and we asked all folk that we met which way the Entwives had gone. Some said they had never seen them; and some said they had seen them walking away west, and some said east, and others south. But nowhere that we went could we find them. Our sorrow was very great. Yet the wild wood called, and we returned to it. (3.4.106)
This story of the Entwives is utterly odd. Why stop in the middle of a story about rousing forces against Isengard to tell us a tale that will have no bearing on the overall plot of The Lord of the Rings? We might take it as a warning against allowing the worlds of men and women to get too separate. But at the same time, the world of Middle-earth is all about separating men from women—how many major women characters do we see in these novels? For much of the series, you would be forgiven for thinking Middle-earth doesn't even have women. So what's the deal here?