Study Guide

The Fellowship of the Ring Book 2, Chapter 4

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Book 2, Chapter 4

A Journey in the Dark

  • Once they get down the mountain, the Company holds a council: either they have to go on or go back to Rivendell.
  • Frodo decides that they can't go back to Rivendell; that would be shameful.
  • Gandalf suggests one way forward – they could go through the Mines of Moria – but it's not a good way, and Aragorn is against it.
  • Boromir offers an alternative: they could go far to the south, through the Gap of Rohan and into Gondor.
  • Gandalf objects that this would bring them too close to Isengard and Saruman. Also, they can't afford to lose too much time.
  • Now that they have failed on Caradhras, they need to get out of sight for a while.
  • Moria is not Orc-heavy right now: most of the Orcs of the Misty Mountains were destroyed in the Battle of the Five Armies.
  • Gimli agrees to go through Moria. He wants to see the halls of Durin.
  • Aragorn has been through Moria once, but he doesn't want to repeat the experience. Still, he will follow Gandalf's lead.
  • Boromir says that he won't go through Moria unless the entire Company votes against him.
  • Legolas does not want to go either.
  • Frodo decides, "I do not wish to go [...] but neither do I wish to refuse the advice of Gandalf" (2.4.30).
  • He votes to wait until morning to decide.
  • Aragorn suddenly realizes that the howl of the wind is actually the howl of wolves. They have no choice now: they have to go to Moria.
  • They agree to set out for the door on Caradhras' south-west face the next morning.
  • They climb to the top of a hill as a defense for the night; there, they find a ring of stones.
  • Bill the pony trembles and sweats as he listens to the wolves growing closer.
  • There is a "great dark wolf-shape" that appears at a gap in the ring of stones.
  • Gandalf shouts, "Listen, Hound of Sauron! [...] Gandalf is here. Fly, if you value your foul skin! I will shrivel you from tail to snout, if you come within this ring" (2.4.42).
  • The wolf leaps forward, but Legolas shoots it with his arrow.
  • The wolves pull back and the darkness grows silent.
  • Suddenly, a huge pack of Wargs – evil wolves – attacks them from all sides.
  • Gandalf fights the Wargs back with fire, and by dawn, they have all been beaten back.
  • But in the morning, the Company discovers that there are no wolf bodies left; Gandalf is sure that these are no ordinary wolves.
  • They must race to the doors of Moria before sunset.
  • At last, they reach Sirannon, the Gate-stream, and the dry remains of the Stair Falls.
  • Gandalf mutters to Frodo that they cannot take Bill the pony into the mines; even though it will sadden Sam, they will have to set Bill free.
  • The sun is setting as they reach the end of the Elvish road from Hollin to Moria.
  • Near the doors, there is a green and stagnant lake.
  • Gandalf breaks the news to Sam that they cannot take Bill with them; Sam bursts into tears and unloads the pony.
  • Gandalf goes to the rock face and mutters a few words.
  • In the light of the moon, a door shines out from the wall.
  • The door says: "The Doors of Durin, Lord of Moria [...] Speak, friend, and enter" (2.4.98).
  • Gandalf decides that there must be a password, so he tries many words and incantations to try to get inside.
  • The doors remain stubbornly shut.
  • Boromir picks up a stone and throws it into the scummy pool near the doors.
  • Frodo scolds Boromir for disturbing the water.
  • Finally, Gandalf gets it: say "friend" and enter. He says the Elvish word for friend, mellon, and the doors crack open.
  • As the door opens, Frodo feels something wind around his ankle and pull him down.
  • Bill the pony bolts.
  • Huge tentacles are whipping out of the water, and one of them is dragging Frodo down into the pond.
  • Sam slashes at the tentacle holding Frodo and pulls him to safety.
  • Gandalf shouts at them to get inside.
  • The Company makes it through the doors just in time to see "many coiling arms [seizing] the doors on either side, and with horrible strength, [swinging] them round" (2.4.130).
  • The door is shut and blocked behind them.
  • Gandalf leads them down into Moria; it will be at least forty miles to the eastern gate and Dimrill Dale.
  • The Company does not dare use their torches, so they have to trust to Gandalf's memory to avoid deep crevasses and rock falls.
  • The journey is quite miserable.
  • Frodo in particular feels on red alert: ever since his injury with the Morgul-blade, his senses have been unusually acute, and he feels hyper-aware of danger ahead.
  • Frodo hears something padding behind them, something on soft feet.
  • Finally, they reach a crossroads that Gandalf does not remember.
  • They settle down to wait for a bit in a nearby guardroom; there is a deep well that seems to fascinate Pippin particularly.
  • Pippin throws a stone in the well and listens for it to land with an echoing plunk (2.4.160). Gandalf once again scolds him for making a nuisance of himself.
  • But then, deep in the mines, there comes a tapping sound, like some sort of signal; Gimli identifies it as the sound of a hammer.
  • The Company sets watch and goes to sleep.
  • Gandalf sits smoking for six hours until he decides what to do. In the end, he decides to take the right-hand passage, and the Company climbs up and up for eight hours.
  • Finally, the Hobbits are too tired to go on, and they decide to rest for the night.
  • Gandalf guesses that they are now actually a ways above the Dimrill Gate.
  • He risks enough light to see where they are.
  • They find themselves in a huge empty hall: "its black walls, polished and smooth as glass, [flash] and glitter. Three other entrances they see, dark black arches, one straight before them eastwards, and one on either side" (2.4.176).
  • Gandalf puts out the light, but Gimli is moved to sing a song of Moria in Durin's day. Naturally.
  • Sam asks why the Dwarves came back to Moria.
  • Gandalf answers: mithril. Mithril is a spectacular metal that is light and yet harder than steel.
  • He mentions that Bilbo had a coat of mithril mail, which would have been worth more than the Shire.

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  • Frodo feels a bit alarmed that he is currently wearing the worth of the Shire hidden under his clothes.
  • The Company goes to sleep, and when they wake, it is morning – really morning, because there is light coming in from somewhere.
  • Gandalf predicts that they will come to the Great Gates and the lake of Mirrowmere by the end of that day.
  • Gimli is glad: he is happy to have seen Moria, but it has become a dark and dreadful place.
  • They go toward the light beyond the northern archway and find a dimly lit square chamber. In it is a slab of stone that reads, "Balin Son of Fundin, Lord of Moria" (2.4.201).
  • Balin is dead.

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