Episode 247 Summary

Tony Meade

Active Member

Of journeys in the high places:
  • While it’s not inescapable that Boromir may be questioning the leadership of the Company, he is being diplomatic about that, with the exception of the dark humor about freezing to death.
  • Note: Knowing that Boromir will eventually try to take the Ring from Frodo, it is easy for re-readers to see the earlier scenes through that lens, though at this point, that isn’t at issue. His eventual failure can color his reputation throughout the story, going back to the Council. The setup, however, is designed to pay off with his sacrifice to save Merry and Pippin, not his fall.
  • It’s possible that Gandalf privately expects the attempt to cross Caradhras will fail, which is why he doesn’t mention anything of fire, preferring to maintain their secrecy until they go to Moria.
  • Note: We will not get a clear idea of Boromir’s normal character until we hear how he is spoken of in Gondor. Until then, much of Boromir’s history and personality are kept as a mystery. This is shown in not only Faramir’s love for Boromir, but his understanding of Boromir’s character.
The twisting and climbing road:
  • This passage focuses on the weather primarily as they begin to approach the way to Caradhras.
  • They are following an established road from what used to be Hollin, and seems to be taken regularly, just as the scouts of Rivendell passed this way before the departure of the Company.
  • This is not a fully natural path, as the stonework reveals that it was at least partially built.
  • The road has disappeared partly due to the passage of time and neglect, but it has also been affected directly by something which caused the falling stones to block the way.
  • The use of “deadly dark” highlights the danger of attempting to climb at a cloudy midnight.
  • This gives a view into the fears of the Company as they make their ascent knowing the dangers.
  • The bitter wind completes a picture of the malice contained in the elements that oppose them.
  • The use of “knees” implies a kind of personification and anthropomorphizing of the mountains.
  • While not completely dark, they are aware of the mountain to their left and gulf on the right.
  • Using verb words like “fell”, the impression is given of the mountain being actively barring them.
  • It’s likely that they are having to guide themselves by touching the cliff face, and therefore the mountain itself, and it is clear that any wrong step would be fatal for the person making it.
  • Only Aragorn and Gandalf are sure to have crossed the path before, with also possibly Legolas.
Dim white flakes of snow:
  • The strength of the snow is indicated by Frodo’s not being able to see the people in front of him.
  • Note: The attitude of the hobbits toward the snow is more like school age children than adults, but it also provides context for the experience of the hobbits in the pass. This is also an unusual kind of pause by the narrator, as it breaks away from the action and speaks from outside time.
  • Sam seems to speak to Frodo rather than himself or Bill, as he’s described “just behind” Frodo.
  • He doesn’t want to be separated from Frodo in the blinding snow and protect him from wind.
  • Sam is speaking to himself, but with the intention of being overheard by Frodo to cheer him up.
  • While seemingly speaking discouraging words, he is reminding Frodo of more pleasant times.
  • Sam is also giving voice to the things that other people think and don’t say in these situations.
  • He is obviously being playful and making a humorous understatement for Frodo’s benefit.
  • Sam’s parallel makes their circumstances seem merely uncomfortable, rather than dangerous.
  • Note: The narrator seems to take Sam’s cue to break away from this moment and into the past. There is an innocence in Sam’s tone that the narrator picks up on and continues to speak in. The narrator does acknowledge the dangers of cold weather with the recollection of the invasion of wolves, but this danger of the Fell Winter is not the same as the current danger of hypothermia. Also, this insertion is likely the work of Frodo, writing his own story after returning to the Shire.