Why does Gandalf fear the Yellow Face?

Discussion in 'Main Forum' started by Alice Mead, Apr 12, 2019.

  1. Alice Mead

    Alice Mead New Member

    Ok, I could save this until Exploring the Lord of the Rings finally gets to "The Ring Goes South" but, since that will take at least a year I decided to ask now instead. I put it here cause I don't want to clutter up the "Exploring" forum with something so far ahead.

    The Fellowship's decision to travel by night when they leave Rivendell has always bugged me. We know that so many of Sauron's servants (orcs, wolves, nigh flying birds, the Nazgul) can see either just as well or even better at night, while all the members of the Fellowship are diurnal creatures. Why in the heck would you place yourself so firmly in the realm where your enemy is strongest and you are weakest? Also, Peter Jackson seems to agree with me, since his Gandalf tells Frodo to "Travel only by day"
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  2. Ardent Crayon

    Ardent Crayon New Member

    Good question! A theory is that, at least for the first leg of their journey, Gandalf is more concerned about human spies and diurnal animals. The Nazgul have been dismounted and washed away, orcs are relatively rare west of the Misty Mountains, and while there are some nocturnal animals in the wild, their night vision is probably still not as sharp as that of most creatures in daylight. Also, among the Fellowship, Legolas is an elf and thus comfortable in starlight, while Gimli presumably has some experience working in dark mine-shafts.
  3. Jim Deutch

    Jim Deutch Active Member

    I never really even noticed, to tell the truth. It's really great to have new perspectives on the text, thank you!

    I would tend to guess that it's all about stealth, not safety. True, the Enemy has spies that keep watch at night, but still, travelers are more likely to be spotted if they're moving during the day. And we see their first knowing encounter with potential spies was during daylight: the crebain in Hollin. Seeing the flock approach gave them time to hide. But I should really read this scene over again before I comment any more!
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  4. Beech27

    Beech27 New Member

    The way forward has also been heavily, heavily scouted for months, so while Sauron's servants might prefer night, there aren't expected to be any present on the route for a while. So, avoiding more mundane detection would probably be the priority.
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  5. Alice Mead

    Alice Mead New Member

    I had forgotten about the Crebain being in daylight. That does make sense. Also, I would point out that their actual first encounter with spies (if you include the original trip from the Shire, and discount the Nazgul, since they're way too open to be considered spies) is with Bill Ferny and the squint-eyed southerner in Bree,who, while they may have invaded the inn at night, are still diurnal by nature. I think I am somewhat prejudiced by the fact that they meet the wolves in Hollin. That always made it seem, in retrospect, like a really dumb decision to me, but I can't really fault them for it if I think about all the various possibilities of enemies they could have run into, instead of just getting hung up on the one they actually do encounter. Plus, I think the fact that Jackson's Gandalf says "Travel only by day" made this discrepancy between film and text jump out at me. The obvious difference being that film Gandalf is operating in a pre-Flood at the Ford world where the biggest threat is clearly the Nazgul.

    Thanks. These are all good thoughts.
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  6. Jim Deutch

    Jim Deutch Active Member

    Ah, movie discrepancies. I mostly just :rolleyes: at them and forget them. Sometimes I mutter "that's just wrong".
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  7. Alice Mead

    Alice Mead New Member

    Me too. The only reason this jumped out is that, for once, the movie version seemed to make more intuitive sense.

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