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The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - Barron's Booknotes
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As Strider, chief of the Rangers who secretly guard the
Shire, Aragorn guides Frodo and his friends to the safety of
Rivendell. There Aragorn reveals that he's the descendant
of kings. Through the rest of the book, Aragorn must prove
himself worthy of the throne of Gondor.

Some readers feel that Aragorn should be considered as a
second hero of The Lord of the Rings who is equally as
important as Frodo. As you read, note the contrasts and
parallels between the two characters. Aragorn's quest is to
regain his inheritance, the throne of Gondor, whereas
Frodo's quest is to destroy his inheritance (the Ring given
him by Bilbo). Aragorn is a man of heroic stature and his
tasks are those of war and leadership, whereas Frodo's are
more spiritual: he must resist the temptation of the Ring.

Like Frodo, Aragorn continues to grow in character
through the course of the book. In the beginning, he's
shown as a loner, unaccustomed to friendship. At first
glance he even seems disreputable, and the hobbits are
suspicious of him. In Rivendell, he reveals that as rightful
heir to the throne of Gondor, he plans to go there to present
his claim. But when the loss of Gandalf forces him to take
over leadership of the group of hobbits, he can no longer
think only of his personal interests.

Aragorn is a very private man, yet Tolkien reveals glimpses
of strong emotions: resentment at the simple folk who
scorn him, not knowing that he protects them from great
danger; loneliness at living the life of an outcast; and deep
love for Arwen, Elrond's daughter.

The romance between Arwen and Aragorn is only hinted at
in the book, and their marriage at the end of the story may
come as a surprise to you. In an appendix of The Lord of
the Rings, you will find the full story of their romance.


Sam Gamgee, the son of Frodo's gardener, sets out with
Frodo on the quest to destroy the Ring. He proves himself a
faithful servant.

Tolkien once said that Sam was modeled on the
noncommissioned soldiers he served with in World War I.
Tolkien had found the common soldiers much more likable
than his fellow commissioned officers. Years later he said,
"My 'Sam Gamgee' is indeed a reflection of the English
soldier, of the privates and batmen [soldiers who perform
various services for superior officers] I knew in the 1914
war, and recognized as so far superior to myself."

Because he's just a gardener's son, Sam serves as the best
example of Tolkien's theme about the greatness in common
people. Sam at times seems simpleminded and shows a lack
of understanding of the true seriousness of a situation. But
his name, Samwise, hints that he's not so foolish as he
seems. Sometimes he can be very perceptive in determining
the motives of others. His greatest virtue is loyalty.
Because of his devotion to Frodo, he too becomes a hero. It
is Sam who rescues Frodo from the orcs and helps Frodo in
his painful journey through Mordor, even carrying him
when Frodo is too weak to crawl.

Some readers view Sam as a negative stereotype of a
member of the working class. They object to what they see
as his simplemindedness and his doglike devotion to Frodo.
They feel that Sam should be an equal to Frodo. What do
you think of the relationship between Sam and Frodo? Is it
possible or desirable in the world today?

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The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - Barron's Booknotes

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