I took the point to a bit of an extreme on order to make it clear that Sam, while admirable in many ways, was far from perfect.
You're in good company, since the Professor himself did the same!
But Sam can be very 'trying'. He is a more representative hobbit than any others that we have
to see much of; and he has consequently a stronger ingredient of that quality which even some
hobbits found at times hard to bear: a vulgarity — by which I do not mean a mere 'down-to-earthiness' —
a mental myopia which is proud of itself, a smugness (in varying degrees) and
cocksureness, and a readiness to measure and sum up all things from a limited experience, largely
enshrined in sententious traditional 'wisdom'. We only meet exceptional hobbits in close
companionship – those who had a grace or gift: a vision of beauty, and a reverence for things nobler
than themselves, at war with their rustic self-satisfaction. Imagine Sam without his education by
Bilbo and his fascination with things Elvish! Not difficult. The Cotton family and the Gaffer, when
the 'Travellers' return are a sufficient glimpse.
This of course is the same letter you cited above; but in full what T wrote was
For me perhaps the most tragic (emphasis mine)
moment in the Tale comes in II 323 ff. when Sam fails to note the complete change in Gollum's
tone and aspect. 'Nothing, nothing', said Gollum softly. 'Nice master!'. His repentance is blighted
and all Frodo's pity is (in a sense) wasted. Shelob's lair became inevitable.
This is due of course to the 'logic of the story'. Sam could hardly have acted differently. (He did
reach the point of pity at last (III 221-222) but for the good of Gollum too late.) If he had, what
could then have happened? The course of the entry into Mordor and the struggle to reach Mount
Doom would have been different, and so would the ending. The interest would have shifted to
Gollum, I think, and the battle that would have gone on between his repentance and his new love on
one side and the Ring. Though the love would have been strengthened daily it could not have
wrested the mastery from the Ring. I think that in some queer twisted and pitiable way Gollum
would have tried (not maybe with conscious design) to satisfy both. Certainly at some point not
long before the end he would have stolen the Ring or taken it by violence (as he does in the actual
Tale). But 'possession' satisfied, I think he would then have sacrificed himself for Frodo's sake and
have voluntarily cast himself into the fiery abyss
(This post was edited by Solicitr on Apr 16, 3:06pm)