The Two Towers
by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Two Towers Loyalty Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph).
Aragorn knelt beside him. Boromir opened his eyes and strove to speak. At last slow words came. "I tried to take the Ring from Frodo," he said. "I am sorry. I have paid. […] Farewell, Aragorn! Go to Minas Tirith and save my people! I have failed."
"No!" said Aragorn, taking his hand and kissing his brow. "You have conquered. Few have gained such a victory. Be at peace! Minas Tirith shall not fall!" (3.1.8-10)
At the end of The Fellowship of the Ring, Boromir has lost his honor. There's just no other way to slice it. But here we are at the beginning of The Two Towers, and boom, Boromir is redeemed. His ultimate devotion is to Minas Tirith and to Gondor, and his thoughts are of Minas Tirith to the last. When Boromir dies and passes on the duty of guarding Minas Tirith to Aragorn, the gesture is jam-packed with meaning. As the son of the Steward of Gondor, Boromir is supposed to be holding power in Gondor until the King returns. By passing the torch to Aragorn, Boromir has shown his true loyalty to Gondor's future King, despite the fact that his own dad is the one in charge now.
"Why not kill them quick, kill them now? They're a cursed nuisance, and we're in a hurry. Evening's coming on, and we ought to get a move on."
"Orders," said a third voice in a deep growl. "Kill all but NOT the Halflings; they are to be brought back ALIVE as quickly as possible. That's my orders."
"Is that all you know? Why don't we search them and find out? We might find something that we could use ourselves."
"That is a very interesting remark," sneered a voice, softer than the others but more evil. "I may have to report that. The prisoners are NOT to be searched or plundered: those are my orders." (3.3.12-13,16-17)
This dialogue teaches us, first, that orcs are disgusting. Second, this argument sounds strangely familiar. In fact, it parallels the argument among the Company about where to go next once they reach the River Anduin in Book 2 Chapter 8 of The Fellowship of the Ring. Nobody expects that a large group is going to agree all the time. But the orcs have a totally different manner of deciding their courses of action, because none of them are loyal. The only thing that determines their behavior is force—the voice that is "softer than the others but more evil" evokes some higher authority ("I may have to report that") to keep the other orcs in line. Because they are all evil, none of them can rely on each other, which leaves them (luckily) vulnerable to ambush by the Riders of Rohan.
"My dear tender little fools," hissed Grishnákh, "everything you have, and everything you know, will be got out of you in due time: everything! You'll wish there was more that you could tell to satisfy the Questioner, indeed you will: quite soon. We shan't hurry the enquiry. Oh dear no! What do you think you've been kept alive for? My dear little fellows, please believe me when I say that it was not out of kindness: that's not even one of Uglúk's faults."
"I find it quite easy to believe," said Merry. "But you haven't got your prey home yet. And it doesn't seem to be going your way, whatever happens. If we come to Isengard, it won't be the great Grishnákh that benefits: Saruman will take all that he can find. If you want anything for yourself, now's the time to do a deal." (3.3.113-4)
Merry is one smart hobbit. He plays on Grishnákh's disloyalty and self-interest to convince the orc to untie him and Pippin. See, this is the trouble with hiring orc help: you never know when they might turn on you.