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The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - Barron's Booknotes
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NOTE: THE POWER OF LANGUAGE
Tom Bombadil uses song to drive the wight from the
barrow, just as he used it to force Old Man Willow to
release Merry and Pippin. He also gives names to the
hobbits' ponies. There is an ancient belief, held by many
primitive people, that everything has its own name, in a
secret language. Knowing the name gives you power over
the thing (or person). It seems that Tom's mastery over
things comes from the power to name them. By giving Tom
this power, Tolkien introduces a new perspective on
language. Throughout the book you will see that Tolkien
draws attention to language in different ways.

The hobbits safely reach their next destination, the town of
Bree, and stay at an inn, the Prancing Pony. Frodo foolishly
allows the Ring to slip onto his finger. By disappearing, he
reveals his identity to the watching spies. He is rebuked by
a mysterious character called Strider, who knows Frodo's
name and also seems to know about the Ring. Strider offers
to join the hobbits as their guide. After initial distrust, they
decide to accept. They're starting to be aware that they've
been too careless, and someone with Strider's experience
will be able to help them.



To stay off the road, Strider leads the hobbits along a
twisting course through the forest, arriving one night at a
hill called Weathertop. So far there has been no sign of the
Black Riders, but that night on Weathertop the hobbits are
attacked.

Strider has said that the Riders cannot see the world of
light; they see best in darkness. This is appropriate, for light
symbolizes good, and darkness evil. When Frodo puts on
the Ring, the Riders seem suddenly to see him. And Frodo
finds that he can now see their faces and armor, whereas
before they were only shadowy figures. It seems he has
entered the Riders' world by putting on the Ring. Suddenly,
one of the Riders attacks Frodo and succeeds in stabbing
him before being driven off.

When Frodo regains consciousness, he learns from the
others that they had seen little of his encounter with the
Black Rider. Frodo had seemed to vanish, and the Rider
appeared only as a black shadow rushing past them. Strider
now tends Frodo's wound. The Black Rider's knife has
deadly magic in it, and already a chill is spreading from
Frodo's shoulder down his arm and side. Strider says that
the evil of that knife is beyond his skill to cure, so they all
set out for Rivendell, hoping that there Frodo can be
healed.

On the way they are joined by an Elf-lord, Glorfindel, who
has been sent from Rivendell by Elrond to find the travelers
and help them. Glorfindel gives Frodo his own horse,
which can outrun the steeds of the Black Riders. When the
company reaches a ford in the river, the Black Riders
suddenly appear, and Glorfindel sends his horse, with
Frodo on it, over the ford. Calling on Frodo to wait, the
Black Riders start to follow him. He no longer has the
strength to refuse. Still, he resists their hold to the last,
calling out defiantly. They only laugh and advance
confidently to take him. Suddenly the river floods, and on
the other shore a shining figure, Glorfindel, can be seen
driving the Riders into the water. The last thing Frodo sees
is the Riders and their black horses being carried away by
the river.

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