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The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - Barron's Booknotes
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BOOK VI, CHAPTERS 1-5

The story returns to Sam and Frodo, who at last succeed in
destroying the Ring. Sauron is defeated, and amidst great
rejoicing, Aragorn is crowned king of Gondor.

As Sam stands outside the tower of Cirith Ungol,
wondering how he will rescue Frodo, he is tempted by
power of the Ring. But his love for Frodo and his simple
hobbit-sense save him. He has no desire to rule the world,
but wants only to tend his own patch of land. Sam passes
the test, and like Galadriel, he diminishes from the
powerful figure that the Ring makes him seem, and
becomes only himself, a small frightened hobbit.

Sam hears the sounds of fighting in the tower. This fighting
reveals the weakness of evil; the orcs cannot cooperate and
are killing each other in petty arguments. Finally, only two
orcs are left alive. Driving them off, Sam rescues Frodo,
and the two have a tender reunion. But a terrible change
comes over Frodo when Sam hands him back the Ring.
Grabbing the Ring, Frodo calls Sam a thief. Before his
eyes, Sam seems to have suddenly turned into a greedy orc.
But the negative effect on Frodo of the Ring's evil power
quickly passes.



Dressed in orc uniforms, Sam and Frodo leave the fortress
to begin the last stage of their journey. The land of Mordor
is a dark, desolate place, with no living things but some
twisted brambles. Even here, however, a star is visible in
the sky. The symbolism of star and shadow is carried to its
logical conclusion. A shadow may obscure the stars for a
while, but the stars will always be shining far above, out of
the reach of darkness. Is Tolkien saying that good can
never be overcome by evil, but will always triumph in the
end?

Caught between the pull of the Ring and the pressure of
Sauron's will, Frodo is so weary he can hardly walk. He
and Sam discard everything they don't need. Symbolically,
they seem to be stripping themselves to the core of their
humanity: the indomitable will to carry on to the end. Sam
is the leader at this point. He cares for Frodo, leading him
onward and even carrying him when Frodo's strength fails.
It is Sam's memory of the Shire that gives him the will to
go on in the face of the horror of Mordor.

As they creep up the slopes of Mount Doom, they are
attacked by Gollum. Sam deals with Gollum while Frodo
struggles on alone. Sam is tempted to kill the miserable
creature, but spares him, as Bilbo and Frodo did before
him. Having borne the Ring even a little while, he
understands and pities Gollum's agony.

Sam follows after Frodo and finds him standing before the
Crack of Doom. There, Frodo's will fails, and he claims the
Ring for himself. But Gollum struggles with him, biting off
the finger with the Ring and, still gloating, accidentally
falls into the fiery abyss. With the destruction of the Ring,
Sauron is vanquished forever: his armies are scattered or
destroyed, and his towers crumble. Sam and Frodo are
rescued from the destruction by the eagles, and the two
hobbits are welcomed with great praise by the victorious
army. This is the climax of the book, where the two halves
of the story, the war and the quest, meet in victory. The rest
of the book serves as a gradual winding down from this
climax, as Tolkien ties up loose ends.

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