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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Panic in the Ranks


Apr 6 2008, 11:58pm

Views: 338
Panic in the Ranks [In reply to] Can't Post

A. If Frodo was prevented from going, who does Merry think should go instead? Why is Merry suddenly rethinking the decision of much older and wiser people than he when he agreed with it before?

Because before it was all theoretical. Now that it's suddenly come down to the pinch, his normal level-headedness gives way to emotion, as he suddenly pictures his beloved cousin actually marching into the ugliest, most dangerous place on earth. As for who, I don't think Merry has any coherent plan. Some man, maybe--somebody who seems bigger, stronger, wiser, more heroic. Certainly not a fellow hobbit.

At this point Sam finally steps up and speaks, and reveals to the Company that Frodo knows what to do but doesn’t want to do it. Sam brushes off Minas Tirith, apologizes, and brings to the attention of the rest of the Company that Boromir isn’t there.

B. Why didn’t anyone else notice Boromir wasn’t there? Wouldn’t somebody have noticed an absence of hints suggesting Gondor?

Because they were all so lost in their own thoughts that Gollum could have joined the group and they wouldn't have glanced his way. And because Boromir wouldn't have survived this long without learning serious stealth skills, no matter how much of a big lunk he seems.

Has anyone else noticed that from Lorien onwards Sam seems a lot shrewder, and keeps noticing things that others miss, and figuring out what the others don't get?

C. If it’s not their job to help Frodo decide, why were they about to try a vote a few minutes ago to help him decide?

They intended the vote as advice, but agreed that if Frodo didn't go along with it, they'd abandon their plan in favor of his. What's different here is that Merry and Pippin are suddenly talking about forcing Frodo to take their course. Merry starts this--he was always the take-charge guy back in the Shire. Maybe he feels that somebody has got to start being decisive. But he's out of his league here, and it shows.

D. When was Boromir planning on telling them the full story, if not now? He knew he would have to eventually, so why doesn’t he do it now?

Because right now the top priority has to be Frodo, making sure he's not in danger. First you put out the fire, then you bust yourself for playing with matches.

In Reply To

Sam panics, knowing Frodo wouldn’t put the ring on for no good reason. Merry is of the more practical (yet still panicky) opinion that Frodo wouldn’t have kept it on after he’d escaped the “unwelcome visitor.” Pippin also panics, and Aragorn asks how long ago Boromir scared Frodo. Once the response “it might be an hour” is given, Aragorn tries in vain to stop them, but the hobbits run off, along with even Legolas and Gimli. “A sudden panic or madness seemed to have fallen on the Company.”

E. Why does a sudden panic or madness fall on the Company? Merry has just pointed out that Frodo would have taken off the Ring anyway, but everyone runs off.

Sometimes that happens when a group has been carrying on bravely through all kinds of stress and unfamiliarity for a long time, especially under an indecisive leader who has not made them feel particularly secure. Tolkien probably saw such things in battle. In any case, I think this is the wake-up call that Aragorn needs--losing control of those under his charge. His abject despair later, when he hits rock-bottom and calls himself an "ill-chooser", finally gives way to a definitive decision: he goes to Merry and Pippin's rescue. From that point on he behaves like the king he should be--because he has seen what can happen to innocent people when he lets his own doubts get in the way of his leadership.

My website http://www.dreamdeer.grailmedia.com offers fanfic, and message-boards regarding intentional community or faerie exploration.

Subject User Time
Breaking of the Fellowship part 5 Milady Send a private message to Milady Apr 5 2008, 12:47am
    Ok, I'll try a few of these... Laerasëa Send a private message to Laerasëa Apr 5 2008, 4:03am
    Thoughts. Curious Send a private message to Curious Apr 5 2008, 3:12pm
    I'm reminded of Modtheow Send a private message to Modtheow Apr 5 2008, 7:49pm
        This council, however, is incomplete. Curious Send a private message to Curious Apr 5 2008, 8:11pm
            a variation on a theme, maybe Modtheow Send a private message to Modtheow Apr 6 2008, 1:47pm
                Contrasting variations, then. Curious Send a private message to Curious Apr 7 2008, 1:02pm
                    By definition Modtheow Send a private message to Modtheow Apr 8 2008, 5:17pm
                        I agree. Curious Send a private message to Curious Apr 8 2008, 7:40pm
                        Nice point about the “Big Picture”. // N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Mar 22 2009, 9:03am
        That's interesting Milady Send a private message to Milady Apr 5 2008, 10:08pm
    Collapse sador Send a private message to sador Apr 5 2008, 9:58pm
    Panic in the Ranks Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer Apr 6 2008, 11:58pm
    One thing FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Apr 7 2008, 4:51pm
    Well Darkstone Send a private message to Darkstone Apr 8 2008, 6:12pm


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