Study Guide

The Return of the King Book 6, Chapter 6

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Book 6, Chapter 6

Many Partings

  • After all the partying is over, Frodo goes to Aragorn and Arwen to ask if he can go home now.
  • But he wants to stop at Rivendell first, to see Bilbo.
  • Aragorn promises they will go in a week, and that he'll travel with Frodo as far as Rohan, to go to Théoden's funeral. 
  • Arwen offers Frodo two gifts: first, because she has decided to stay in Middle-earth and live a mortal life, her place on the Grey Ships west across the Sea is empty.
  • So if Frodo finds himself too wounded to continue on, he can take her place and head west.
  • Second, Arwen gives Frodo a white jewel to soothe him when "the memory of the fear and the darkness troubles [him]" (6.6.8).
  • Three days later, Éomer arrives in Minas Tirith to retrieve Théoden's body.
  • Éomer and Gimli joke around about their old argument over the fairness of Galadriel (see The Two Towers Book 3, Chapter 2).
  • No matter. Éomer now finds Arwen Evenstar fairer even than Galadriel.
  • They leave Gondor at last, carrying Théoden's body from Rath Dínen to a wagon draped with his banner.
  • Frodo and Sam ride at Aragorn's side, along with Gandalf on Shadowfax.
  • Pippin goes with the knights of Gondor, and Legolas and Gimli ride together on Arod. The gang is back in action.
  • Arwen, Celeborn, Galadriel, Elrond, Elladan, Elrohir, Imrahil, Faramir, and many of the other captains of the war are also tagging along.
  • When they reach the Grey Wood, Aragorn halts and has his heralds announce: "Behold, the King Elessar is come! The Forest of Drúadan he gives to Ghân-buri-Ghân and to his folk, to be their own for ever; and hereafter let no man enter it without their leave!" (6.6.21).
  • After fifteen days of travel, they arrive in Edoras, where they hang out for three days as the men of Rohan prepare Théoden's funeral.
  • They build another barrow for Théoden alongside his forefathers. 
  • The Riders ride around this barrow singing a song of Théoden.
  • Merry weeps over the barrow and bids Théoden goodbye: "Farewell! As a father you were to me, for a little while" (6.6.26). 
  • When the burial is finished, Éowyn comes out with a full cup that she gives to Éomer.
  • After a ceremonial reading of the names of all of the Lords of the Mark, Éomer drinks from the cup and is hailed as the new king of Rohan.
  • Following the feast that evening, Éomer announces that Faramir and Éowyn are getting hitched.
  • Éomer, for one, is pumped to have this symbol of the strong alliance between Gondor and Rohan.
  • Faramir and Imrahil stay in Edoras, as does Arwen, who says a sad goodbye to her people.
  • Her goodbye to her father is particularly sorrowful, since they will likely never see each other again. 
  • When Éomer and Éowyn say goodbye to Merry, they give him an heirloom horn as a token of their esteem. 
  • They both hug him before Merry departs.
  • Then the company travels for two days to Helm's Deep.
  • Gimli reminds Legolas of his promise to come and look at the Glittering Caves of Anglarond (The Two Towers Book 3, Chapter 8).
  • Seeing the caves, Legolas is suitably impressed. 
  • They continue on to Isengard, where they see that the Ents have removed the old stone walls and planted orchards and trees.
  • In the middle of a lake of clear water stands Orthanc. 
  • Treebeard and Quickbeam come to greet the travelers.
  • Treebeard explains that the remaining Ents (many of whom have been killed) supervised a mopping-up operation with a horde of orcs trying to get to Edoras. So the Ents have saved the King of Rohan his capital. 
  • Gandalf asks about Saruman, and Treebeard admits that he let Saruman go a week ago, along with his "worm-creature" (6.6.55), Gríma Wormtongue. 
  • Treebeard thinks that Saruman is now "a snake without fangs" (6.6.55), and there is no point in keeping him locked up.
  • But Gandalf worries that Saruman used the magic of his voice to persuade soft-hearted Treebeard to let him go.
  • Aragorn gives the valley to the Ents, to use as they wish. His only condition is that they keep Orthanc locked against intruders. Sounds like a plan. 
  • Then Quickbeam the Ent gives Aragorn the keys to the tower.
  • Treebeard invites them to stay a little longer, if they would like, but everyone has to go, with two exceptions.
  • Legolas reminds Gimli of his promise to see the Forest of Fangorn.
  • From there, they can travel on to Mirkwood (Legolas's home) and the Lonely Mountain (Gimli's home).
  • Gimli agrees, though he doesn't look too thrilled. 
  • Aragorn announces, "Here then at last comes the ending of the Fellowship of the Ring" (6.6.64). 
  • Tears are totally acceptable.
  • Treebeard says goodbye to each of them, but his farewells to Celeborn and Galadriel are particularly respectful (since the elves are the ones who woke the Ents, and the forest of Lothlórien is not so unlike the forest of Fangorn). 
  • Treebeard drinks a last Ent-draught with Merry and Pippin. 
  • They say goodbye and the old Ent vanishes into the trees.
  • Aragorn says goodbye to the hobbits at the Gap of Rohan, reminding Pippin that he is a knight of Gondor, and that he might call Pippin back into service some day. 
  • Then the new King says goodbye to Celeborn and Galadriel (the in-laws) before the elves (and Gandalf and the hobbits) ride away.
  • As they travel over the Misty Mountains, the party overtakes two beggars: an old man and a slouching creature.
  • It is Saruman. Ugh.
  • He exchanges some sour words with Gandalf and Galadriel, and when he sees the direction they are going, he decides to turn the other way.
  • He tells Wormtongue, "Get up, you idiot! [...] Get on, or I'll give you no crust for your supper!" (6.6.88).
  • Gandalf suggests that Wormtongue leave Saruman behind, but Wormtongue cannot seem to imagine that. 
  • When Saruman turns on the hobbits, he demands some tobacco "for an old beggar" (6.6.92).
  • Sam gets worried when Saruman mentions Southfarthing pipe-weed. He wants to hurry back to the Shire to make sure all is well.
  • But Frodo has to stop in Rivendell first to see Bilbo.
  • They pass near the Gates of Moria.
  • They camp and hang around for a week, delaying the inevitable parting withe the elves of Lothlórien.
  • Celeborn and Galadriel spend a lot of time powwowing with Elrond and Gandalf.
  • Eventually, the Lothlórien elves turn east, and the party bound for Rivendell heads north.
  • They arrive in Rivendell just as Bilbo is turning 129, 18 years after the Long-Expected Party.
  • Bilbo is showing real signs of age—finally: he falls asleep often, and sometimes becomes confused.
  • They try to tell him of their travels, but he can't stay awake for much of it. If only he knew.
  • Two weeks later, Frodo realizes that the time has come to leave, before the weather gets bad.
  • It is October, after all, and they're heading into winter.
  • Sam wants to leave soon, too, so they decide to split the next day. Gandalf offers to come too, as far as Bree at least.
  • That night, the four hobbits say goodbye to Bilbo.
  • To Frodo, he gives "his mithril-coat and Sting, forgetting that he had already done so" (6.6.116).
  • He also gives Frodo three red books of Elvish lore that he has translated (the Red Book of Westmarch).
  • Bilbo gives Sam a little bag of gold, almost the last of Bilbo's dragon treasure. It'll be enough to pay for Sam's wedding.
  • Bilbo tells Merry and Pippin not to get too full of themselves, and then he offers them two lovely pipes for them to remember him by.
  • Then, Bilbo casually asks Frodo what has happened to that old Ring of his.
  • Frodo answers, "I have lost it, Bilbo dear [...] I got rid of it, you know" (6.6.122).
  • Suddenly, Bilbo remembers that that was the whole reason Frodo went away. But then the old guy falls asleep in the middle of talking. 
  • He wakes up enough to ask Frodo to write down his adventures and finish Bilbo's book.
  • The next day, Gandalf and the hobbits say goodbye to Bilbo, Elrond, and his household.
  • Elrond tells Frodo quietly that, around October of next year, Bilbo and Elrond will pass through the woods of the Shire, so Frodo should be on the lookout for them. 
  • Frodo does not tell anyone else of Elrond's offer.

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