COTW: LOTR, Book 6, Chapter 2 "The Land of Shadow"

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R. Dan Henry

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Feb 28, 2005, 9:15:02 PM2/28/05
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Lord of the Rings
Book VI, Chapter 2: The Land of Shadow

SUMMARY:

Fleeing the Tower of Cirith Ungol, Frodo and Sam travel and hide in
the mountains north until they descend into Gorgoroth in the company
of Orcs who don't see through their disguise, escaping again on the
plain. They find water along the way. Poor Smeagol continues to track
the Precious, while nasty Orcs harass him.

OBSERVATIONS AND DISCUSSION POINTS:

The title "The Land of Shadow" is just another way of saying "Mordor",
but it provides a focus on the continuing (although reduced) darkness
and Frodo and Sam hug the Mountains of Shadow through most of the
chapter.

'But we can't,' said Sam, 'not without wings.' -- this seems to
conclusively end any "hobbit wings" arguments and Gandalf was either
talking to Gimli and/or Legolas (I do not believe we are ever told
Dwarves or Elves lack wings) or was not thinking clearly when he told
them to "fly" back in Moria.

We are back to the travelogue with lots of descriptions of sheer drops
and drear landscapes and grim plant life hanging on at the edge of
Mordor. Very unpleasant compared to Ithilien, but not quite so bad as
the Morgul Vale -- the water is not sweet, but it is drinkable. But it
isn't just the landscape: the descriptions dwell on the weather
(mostly chocking volcanic clouds, with some clearing from West winds),
thirst, the difficulty of eating with dry mouths, tiredness from lack
of sleep, weariness from the growing burden of the Ring, Frodo's
chill, difficulty remembering home, and the changing visibility
(mostly bad). They fall asleep readily, sometimes even without meaning
to. Frodo plods on without hope. How much is Tolkien's own war
experience showing here? Certainly the sudden importance of normally
mundane details that peppers this chapter would have been something
commonly experienced in any war zone.

'If Shagrat himself was to offer me a glass of water, I'd shake his
hand,' said Sam. -- But not a kind word to Smeagol if he fetches
water!

Frodo still refers to a Nazgul as a "Black Rider". The tracker-orc
calls them "Shriekers". How many names for the Ringwraiths are there?
Anyone have a list?

It isn't hard to match up time in this chapter, as we are told
explicitly when Theoden is dying and hear the report of the
Witch-King's demise. [Do those who think this is actually the
Witch-King want to start that argument again? I think it's pretty
obviously a messenger Nazgul, but we can debate if people like.] The
Tale of Years shows that the chapter lasts from March 15 to March 19.
This covers from the Battle of the Pelennor, starting about the time
of Theoden's fall, through the little visit to the Morgul-vale at the
same time as Frodo and Sam depart company with the Orcs. Meanwhile,
elsewhere in Middle-earth, there is fighting in Mirkwood, at Lorien,
and the bloody Battle of Dale. The West is holding, but barely.
Interestingly, the Morgul route would not have drawn the Eye toward
Frodo, as he was well north by this time -- near the front door of
Mordor where the Host of the West is going.

Frodo has begun to see the Ring in his mind as a "wheel of fire". It
is wheel-shaped, but fire? Is that due to the volcano connection? It
isn't fire, after all, but gold. Is this a combination of images, the
Ring and burning Eye? Is it the Ring's own yearning for the heat of
Sauron's hand?

We get a lot of place names in this chapter, including "Isenmouthe",
which could be confusing ("Isn't the Isen west of Rohan?") -- one
thing about Tolkien is that he doesn't hesitate to give the same or
similar names to two things or multiple names to the same thing, which
can be confusing at times, but is more realistic than avoiding
redundancy.

Sam wishes for light and water, invoking Galadriel. It is only an idle
wish, it seems, but once he has both, "'If ever I see the Lady again,
I will tell her!' he cried. 'Light and now water!'" Does he think that
she has somehow heard and provided? Do you?

Did Sauron deliberately create flies with the mark of the Eye? Or is
this just some side-effect of his power?

Sam sees a star peek through and has a moment of peace. Not because it
recalls the Elves, as one might expect, or because of any ordinary
sort of hope it raises, but because he looks beyond his own concerns
and realizes that in the big picture, even Sauron is small. For
awhile, Sam puts aside fear and awakes "almost fresh".

For those keeping track, there's another reference to hobbits and
wondering about the time: "They did not know the time, nor how long
they had slept" and here there is nobody to ask. They do, however,
eat.

We get another "Sauron moment", too: "The Dark Power was deep in
thought, and the Eye turned inward, pondering tidings of doubt and
danger: a bright sword, and a stern and kingly face it saw, and for a
while it gave little thought to other things" -- Aragorn has indeed
drawn Sauron's interest.

We learn also something of Sauron's scheme of organization and get an
idea of how vast his dominion has actually become. Gorgoroth is filled
with troop encampments, from tents thrown up for the moment to crude
towns, and there are Men gathering in numbers as well as Orcs. They
cannot be fed from the barren volcanic ruin of Gorgoroth. We are told
what the hobbits do not know: southern Mordor (Nurn) is more fertile
and there slave-worked fields yield food for the armies, tribute flows
on roads both east and south to lands under Sauron power, this area is
for mining, forging, and gathering forces, and that Sauron's first
attacks on the West were foiled (but these were more tests of his
enemies' strength than full assaults). We also get our only rear view
of the fortified northwest of Mordor. There are two references to Orcs
having numbers. I don't know if this is meant to represent
dehumanizing (deorcizing?) bureaucracy or simply an acknowledgement
that forces as large as Sauron's need a regimentation the West can
forego.

"They soon found that it was impossible to make their way along the
crest of the Morgai, or anywhere along its higher levels, pathless as
they were and scored with deep ghylls." The old professor is still
broadening my vocabulary. And "ghyll" as a variant of "gill" is
better, because it is more specific. A gill could be any number of
things, but a ghyll is a ravine.

We can compare the Numenorean craftsmanship that built Minas Morgul
and the Tower of Cirith Ungol with a native orc-hold: "a wall and a
cluster of stone huts set about the dark mouth of a cave." Soon after
we meet two Orcs: the smaller is "black-skinned" (the other, by
implication, is not) if anyone wants to call Tolkien a racist. Their
behavior shows us why Orcish populations usually wane when there is no
overlord to keep discipline -- like Shagrat and Gorbag, they come to
blows. They both complain about the higher-ups, but the big one
doesn't take kindly to the 'rebel-talk' of the smaller one. He's one
of Shagrat's warriors, apparently a more loyal bunch than average.

It is clear that events at Cirith Ungol are still not understood in
Mordor. We learn that the Nazgul has taken control at the Tower and
that Gollum is still about ("the black sneak... That gobbler with the
flapping hands") and took Frodo's cast-off orcish mail shirt. This may
or may not have saved Gollum's life, depending on whom one believes,
but it helped muddy the trail and once more he has aided Frodo and
Sam.

Interesting language through the whole Orc exchange, what with "Nar!"
and "Ar!" and "Garn!" as exclamations. And "peaching" I wouldn't have
recognized if I hadn't had some recent exposure to Dickens. Does
someone with a better knowledge of English dialects care to comment?

Frodo comments that the orc-quarrel was "the spirit of Mordor" -- Orcs
seem to be less useful than they could be because they are so
extremely hostile that they reduce their own numbers. Still, it isn't
surprising -- they were formed as the army of Morgoth and seem to have
inherited his nihilism. No wonder Sauron has worked to gather human
allies. Frodo does also note that Orcs hate others even more than
their own kind and that they will unite to fight the outsiders. I
don't know if Sauron may deliberately keep some wedges between his
forces to keep them mutually distrustful; that is a strategy to
prevent effective rebellion that has been used before, but I doubt
that this is part of the Orcish tribalism. He may be a touch paranoid,
but I doubt Sauron is worried some Orc-captain will rally troops
against him. In any case, we've now seen three meetings of Orc-folk in
Mordor and in all three cases, it leads to bloodshed.

Why didn't they think to grab some boots back at the Tower? Bare furry
feet would be a dead giveaway they aren't Orcs if somebody looked.
Fortunately, they get by with Sam's trick of hiding their feet with
their shields, but that was pushing their luck rather far.

The chapter ends "there [Frodo] lay like a dead thing." However, given
his previously established state of exhaustion, I don't think anyone
is actually wondering if he's really dead this time. Am I wrong?

FAVORITE QUOTES:

'That Gollum's about again, I'm afraid, Mr. Frodo,' he said.
'Leastways, if it wasn't him, then there's two of him.[']

'Where there's a whip there's a will, my slugs.[']

R. Dan Henry
danh...@inreach.com

Natman

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Feb 28, 2005, 11:23:39 PM2/28/05
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On Mon, 28 Feb 2005 18:15:02 -0800, R. Dan Henry
<danh...@inreach.com> wrote:


>
>Why didn't they think to grab some boots back at the Tower? Bare furry
>feet would be a dead giveaway they aren't Orcs if somebody looked.
>Fortunately, they get by with Sam's trick of hiding their feet with
>their shields, but that was pushing their luck rather far.

Probably because they had never worn shoes before in their lives and
would have had no idea how to walk in them.

JimboCat

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Mar 1, 2005, 11:56:18 AM3/1/05
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R. Dan Henry wrote:
>Sam wishes for light and water, invoking Galadriel. It is only an idle
>wish, it seems, but once he has both, "'If ever I see the Lady again,
>I will tell her!' he cried. 'Light and now water!'" Does he think that
>she has somehow heard and provided? Do you?

Sam, I think, does believe that Galadriel had some sort of influence
here. After all, he's heard Aragorn tell them that "more deadly to
[the Nazgul] was the name of Elbereth" on Weathertop, and he's seen,
when Frodo invokes the same name, the Phial blaze out with extra
strength in Shelob's tunnels.

I don't think even Sam believes it's a direct "she heard and
intervened", however. Otherwise, why bother to tell her? She'd
already know. Yet there is some power to Names in ME, similar in some
ways to the power of Oaths. The mechanism is unexplained (Valar? Eru?)
but it seems to go well beyond mere superstition (the army of the Dead
was not just a scary story!).

>Did Sauron deliberately create flies with the mark of the Eye? Or is
>this just some side-effect of his power?

Side-effect, IMHO. Or even coincidence. Just another of those little
Middle-Earth details...

Jim Deutch (JimboCat)
--
"Marriage is sacred. Given the failure rate of heterosexual marriages,
I believe we are morally required to outlaw heterosexual marriages and
to give homosexuals a chance to provide a better track record."
- Michael "Tounge Firmly Planted In Cheek" Alexander

Jens Kilian

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Mar 1, 2005, 1:10:44 PM3/1/05
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"JimboCat" <10313...@compuserve.com> writes:
> >Did Sauron deliberately create flies with the mark of the Eye? Or is
> >this just some side-effect of his power?
>
> Side-effect, IMHO. Or even coincidence. Just another of those little
> Middle-Earth details...

Evolution in action. Sauron's servants were probably afraid to swat the ones
marked by His Eye.

--
mailto:j...@acm.org As the air to a bird, or the sea to a fish,
http://www.bawue.de/~jjk/ so is contempt to the contemptible. [Blake]
http://del.icio.us/jjk

John Jones

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Mar 2, 2005, 3:30:07 PM3/2/05
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"R. Dan Henry" <danh...@inreach.com> wrote in message
news:fiu621hdihnduoeq2...@4ax.com...

> "They soon found that it was impossible to make their way along the
> crest of the Morgai, or anywhere along its higher levels, pathless as
> they were and scored with deep ghylls." The old professor is still
> broadening my vocabulary. And "ghyll" as a variant of "gill" is
> better, because it is more specific. A gill could be any number of
> things, but a ghyll is a ravine.

Or a pothole. Gaping Ghyll is a pothole (vertical cave) in Yorkshire.

> Interesting language through the whole Orc exchange, what with "Nar!"
> and "Ar!" and "Garn!" as exclamations. And "peaching" I wouldn't have
> recognized if I hadn't had some recent exposure to Dickens. Does
> someone with a better knowledge of English dialects care to comment?
>

There are no obscene words in LotR; the Professor didn't like them!
('orc-talk'). 'Nar' is 'no'; 'Ar' is Brummie for 'yes'; 'garn' is 'go on!',
meaning 'I don't believe you'. As for the voices, remember those used in the
films! The orcs' conversation is a very bowdlerised version of the
soldiers' language which Tolkien would have heard in the trenches.

Matthew Woodcraft

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Mar 3, 2005, 5:54:28 PM3/3/05
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R. Dan Henry <danh...@inreach.com> wrote:
>'But we can't,' said Sam, 'not without wings.' -- this seems to
>conclusively end any "hobbit wings" arguments and Gandalf was either
>talking to Gimli and/or Legolas (I do not believe we are ever told
>Dwarves or Elves lack wings) or was not thinking clearly when he told
>them to "fly" back in Moria.

Elves can fly only short distances. <<If Elves could fly over
mountains, they might fetch the Sun to save us>>, says Gandalf.

-M-

Henriette

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Mar 5, 2005, 3:08:58 PM3/5/05
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Matthew Woodcraft wrote:
> R. Dan Henry <danh...@inreach.com> wrote:
> >'But we can't,' said Sam, 'not without wings.' -- this seems to
> >conclusively end any "hobbit wings" arguments

I don't think for convenience sake, we should jump here to conclusions.
I've heard it argue that Sam was not ready here to admit to having
wings (to sort of 'come out of the closet') yet.

> and Gandalf was either
> >talking to Gimli and/or Legolas (I do not believe we are ever told
> >Dwarves or Elves lack wings) or was not thinking clearly when he
told
> >them to "fly" back in Moria.
>
> Elves can fly only short distances. <<If Elves could fly over
> mountains, they might fetch the Sun to save us>>, says Gandalf.
>

They could actually fly really far, although they seldom did it as
there was not much difference between their walking and their flying.
But as they like all of us, are subject to the forces of gravity, elves
generally can't fly above a certain altitude. Unlike e.g. Balrogs or
Hobbits, who make use of counter-forces.

Henriette

Huan the hound

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Mar 5, 2005, 4:58:37 PM3/5/05
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On 2005-03-01, R Dan Henry <danh...@inreach.com> wrote in <fiu621hdihnduoeq2...@4ax.com>:

[snip]

> Sam wishes for light and water, invoking Galadriel. It is only an idle
> wish, it seems, but once he has both, "'If ever I see the Lady again,
> I will tell her!' he cried. 'Light and now water!'" Does he think that
> she has somehow heard and provided? Do you?

Just like the incident with the rope coming loose when he spoke the name
of Galadriel, it seems like a subtle suggestion that speaking her name is
helping them.

[snip]


> "They soon found that it was impossible to make their way along the
> crest of the Morgai, or anywhere along its higher levels, pathless as
> they were and scored with deep ghylls." The old professor is still
> broadening my vocabulary. And "ghyll" as a variant of "gill" is
> better, because it is more specific. A gill could be any number of
> things, but a ghyll is a ravine.

Around here we're as likely to say "gully" as "ravine," is that common
everywhere? Gully looks like ghyll.

--
Huan, the hound of Valinor

AC

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Mar 7, 2005, 12:22:22 AM3/7/05
to
On Mon, 28 Feb 2005 18:15:02 -0800,
R Dan Henry <danh...@inreach.com> wrote:

<snip>

> Frodo has begun to see the Ring in his mind as a "wheel of fire". It
> is wheel-shaped, but fire? Is that due to the volcano connection? It
> isn't fire, after all, but gold. Is this a combination of images, the
> Ring and burning Eye? Is it the Ring's own yearning for the heat of
> Sauron's hand?

I think it furthers the notion that the Ring is now a nearly unmanagable
burdern for Frodo.

<snip>

>
> Did Sauron deliberately create flies with the mark of the Eye? Or is
> this just some side-effect of his power?

I think Sauron is a stickler for details. I'm fairly certain this is
intentional.

<sni[>

> Why didn't they think to grab some boots back at the Tower? Bare furry
> feet would be a dead giveaway they aren't Orcs if somebody looked.
> Fortunately, they get by with Sam's trick of hiding their feet with
> their shields, but that was pushing their luck rather far.

They're hobbits. They aren't habituated to footware.

<snip>

--
Aaron Clausen
mightym...@hotmail.com

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