Frodo, Sam, and Gollum take an elaborate left turn.
In all seriousness, the main character of this episode—as highlighted in this week’s lectio divina section—is probably none other than the silence that surrounds our wayfarers at this point. The absence of sound plays many roles, both positive and negative, in our lives. What does it foretell for the journey into Mordor?
RANDOM-ASS THEME: Walking in on someone in the bathroom
Our protagonists are in the Moon country of Ithilien, which becomes clearer in this chapter than ever before. The Moon indeed seems to be playing a vital role, and these paragraphs abound in lunar imagery.
This week we are joined by Rev. Greg Farrand. Greg leads us through his own style of lectio divina as we puzzle through a crucial Gollum passage and let it speak to us. Gollum’s apparently innocent nocturnal fishing expedition reminds us of our own competing hungers, and we find ourselves asking: How do we keep from indulging the wrong hunger and falling to ruin? What happens when we cannot help ourselves?
This chapter offers many (too many?) kinds of plants, and Nathan leads an analysis of the role of heather in this landscape. We also spend some time analyzing the curious phrase “dishevelled dryad loveliness.”
We encounter the Southrons again, notably in the lectio divina segment. Sam has some insights upon seeing a fallen warrior that generate further discussion on the in-world races of Men and the problems that their representations can have for a 21st-century readership. Why are we only able to empathize with the Other after they have died?
After Frodo, Sam, and Sméagol/Gollum arrive at the gates of Mordor only to find them shut, our lectio section—as though it were inevitable—ropes us back into our on-again, off-again debate on free will.
We also spend a good portion of this episode discussing the Southron men, who are described abundantly in this chapter and have “dark faces” and hail from the sunny South, where oliphaunts roam. We consider these people’s role and (lack of) representation in Tolkien’s world. Where do they and their homeland fall in the scheme of good and evil? Why do we know so little about them—except that they have decided to fight for Mordor—and what does that say about Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings?
We explore the (un)dead landscape in this memento mori chapter. As the three (or four?) characters traverse this eerie and corrupted world, we find ourselves asking to what extent Sméagol/Gollum’s own system of morality has been corrupted by the Ring over the course of time.
The lectio passage asks what it means for a landscape to be irreversibly damaged and disfigured. What hope is there for full recovery, even after the powers of Mordor should fall?