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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
**CoH Discussion** V. Túrin in Doriath 4: Orc-work

Wynnie
Rohan


Jul 11 2007, 2:54am

Post #1 of 12 (571 views)
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**CoH Discussion** V. Túrin in Doriath 4: Orc-work Can't Post


Túrin sets off next morning for the marches, but Saeros ambushes him.

Q1. Túrin had come to Menegroth needing smithwork on his arms; did he have time to get that done?

In the discussion of Chapter 1, squire suggested that "Give with a free hand, but give only your own" might be a proverb. Mablung's thought
    "Malice that wakes in the morning is the mirth of Morgoth ere night"
is clearly marked as one, set off in quotation marks.

Q2. Have there been any other proverbs in CoH so far? Some of the sayings in LotR have modern equivalents; does this one?

Lacking the full story, Mablung applies the proverb to Túrin, but the reader knows it better fits Saeros.

Q3. Does it fit Túrin at all?

Q4. Do the stripping and nude chase have sexual overtones? Or is this just pure unadulterated violence?

Saeros's calls for help attract a crowd of followers, and Mablung shouts after Túrin to stop:
    "This is Orc-work in the woods!"
In CoH, Túrin's retort is:
    "Orc-work there was; this is only Orc-play."
which differs from the Unfinished Tales version:
    "Orc-work in the woods for Orc-words in the hall!"

Q5. Is this a case where Christopher Tolkien, studying the drafts, came to a new conclusion as to his father's final intent? (see Appendix p. 285: "In this book I have reconsidered the original manuscripts and reconstituted the text, in many (usually very minor) places restoring the original words, introducing sentences or brief passages that should not have been omitted, correcting a few errors, and making different choices among the original readings.") Compare the two variations.

According to this site, white-tailed deer can jump over 30 feet. Wikipedia gives the human long jump record as 8.95 m (= 29+ feet). So I'm assuming the leap Saeros attempts is somewhere in that neighborhood.

Q6. Saeros must be exhausted by this point -- or don't Elves tire? Why does he try such a long leap?

Here's a Ted Nasmith rendition of the scene:



Q7. Comments?

Túrin's reaction to Saeros's death is cold:
    "Now he has laid a guilt on me undeserved."
    "I did not will it, but I do not mourn it."

Q8. Does Saeros have any redeeming characteristics? Is the reader meant to feel any sympathy for him?

Q9. Are the two brief mentions of Mandos too cryptic?

Q10. Thoughts on Túrin's decision to turn fugitive?

We'll go further into the question of his guilt or innocence in the next thread.




To the Sea, to the Sea! The white gulls are crying,
The wind is blowing, and the white foam is flying.




Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


Jul 11 2007, 5:18am

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Turin as the square peg [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

Q4. Do the stripping and nude chase have sexual overtones? Or is this just pure unadulterated violence?




Truin always seems unable to react to an appropriate degree in a given situation. Here, he not only beats Saeros in a fight but humiliates him. Elsewhere, he refuses to heed the sensible counsels of Beleg to return to Doriath - and even as a child his reactions carry greater gravitas than required. It's almost as if Turin has a disfunction when it comes to interacting with others.

Of course the one time he does finally manage to get onto an even keel with anyone is when he falls in love - unwittingly with his own sister. And boy did that relationship turn out well.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded b*****d with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jul 11 2007, 6:15am

Post #3 of 12 (218 views)
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Poetic injustice. [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Q4. Do the stripping and nude chase have sexual overtones? Or is this just pure unadulterated violence?



Saeros had said to Túrin:


Quote
If the Men of Hithlum are so wild and fell, of what sort are the women of that land? Do they run like the deer clad only in their hair?



Túrin responds in kind:


Quote
Saeros... there is a long race before you, and clothes will be a hindrance; hair must suffice.... Run, run, mocker of women!... Run!... And unless you go swift as the deer I shall prick you on from behind.



I have read that "prick" was a common pun in Shakespeare's age, but let that rest. Niënor will run like this, after her encounter with Glaurung. And she will die at the "Deer's Leap".

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Discuss The Children of Húrin in the Reading Room, June 11-October 14.


Eledhwen
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jul 11 2007, 7:11am

Post #4 of 12 (215 views)
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Pure violence [In reply to] Can't Post

3) It fits Túrin's situation - the curse - more than it fits him as a person. Because I'm sure Morgoth laughed at this situation.

4) Just violence, nothing more.

6) Legolas shows in LOTR that Elves don't tire easily. Túrin seems fine at this point and he's just a Man. I think Saeros is desperate, trying to escape.

8) I feel some sympathy for Saeros because his taunts did not warrant death. But mainly I feel sorry for Túrin, because he ends up unjustly punishing himself without need.

Marlborough vineyards on a sunny winter's day.

IMG_1107


drogo
Lorien


Jul 11 2007, 10:43am

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Sayings [In reply to] Can't Post

Q2. Have there been any other proverbs in CoH so far? Some of the sayings in LotR have modern equivalents; does this one?

Little tangent here, but it is interesting to note that there are so few proverbs,sayings, or aphorisms in the First Age stories. This is part of what makes LOTR seem so real and so familiar, for Tolkien is able to give readers that sense of recognition when Bilbo says "All that is gold does not glitter," slightly skewing the traditional saying.

The malice one does not, as far as I know, have an exact equivalent, but it nonetheless sounds familiar. Its specificity to the historical circumstances of the age (the ongoing threat of Morgoth and his tendency to set his enemies against each other) makes it very interesting: it's at once timeless and very timely. It adds the illusion of cultural depth that is so hard to grasp in the Sil accounts but which comes across so well in LOTR.


squire
Valinor


Jul 12 2007, 3:36am

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Pure sex - almost [In reply to] Can't Post

This scene, and the theme it engenders with Nienor suffering the same fate (running nude through the woods just as Saeros taunted Turin that his women kin did; later jumping to her death), is unprecedented in Tolkien. The nudity is hardly necessary to the story; one need only imagine the same scenes of panicky flight by clothed actors - quite effective and plausible - to realize that.

Is it sexual? I don't see why not: nudity always promises sex to the human imagination. Where else does Tolkien use "buttock", for gosh sakes? and unlike N. E. Brigand, I wouldn't let Turin's promise to Saeros to "prick you on from behind" with his sword pass by.

"he stripped him, and Saeros felt Turin's great strength, and was afraid."

The sex promised is brutal, humiliating, the act of a rapist. Tolkien plays with the powerful imagery almost with distaste - and then drops it. Where did he get it from, I wonder?

More broadly, throughout this chapter I think the major theme is Wildness. The uncombed hair vs. the golden comb, the effete courtier vs. the unkempt march-warden, the comparison of Turin to the Woodwose (three times - bad writing), the implicit comparison of being chased nude, in nothing but hair, to being hunted like a wild hairy beast, the earlier information that the wild Easterlings hunt their fastest prisoners for sport like Orcs do and its recurrence in the remarks about Orc-work and Orc-play: all bounce off the idea that Turin is a wild Man in the Elf-king's civilized court. He cruelly turns the tables on the evil (wild) Elf who torments him in a civilized (verbal) way, by making Saeros into a wild beast and hunting (or more disturbingly, symbolically raping) him.

In fact it is Turin who fears the accusation of wildness, and he struggles with that self-image for much of the rest of the book. It is no wonder he adopts the wild girl, exhausted from running, naked except for her hair, and marries her, his sister, in an ultimate act of self-identification.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Footeramas: The 3rd TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


(This post was edited by squire on Jul 12 2007, 3:43am)


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jul 12 2007, 5:29am

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Tolkien's "buttocks". [In reply to] Can't Post


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Where else does Tolkien use "buttock", for gosh sakes?



I can think of two other uses, both in the same poem.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Discuss The Children of Húrin in the Reading Room, June 11-October 14.


Modtheow
Lorien

Jul 13 2007, 3:15am

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getting to the bottom of it all [In reply to] Can't Post

First of all, let me say that I never thought I'd see the day when I'd be reading about Tolkien's buttocks in a subject heading.

Now, about Turin's attack on Saeros: I think that it's an act of violence and humiliation, with sexual overtones. Not that I think that Turin wants actually to rape Saeros, but this scene has got to be about ultimate humiliation. We see one man stripping another, forcing him into a totally submissive and fearful position, and threatening to shove something....you get the picture. I think that Turin is emasculating Saeros; in effect, he's turning him into one of those wild, naked women of his taunt. A symbolic rape, as squire says.


Darkstone
Immortal


Jul 13 2007, 1:32pm

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"Run, Forrest, run!" / [In reply to] Can't Post

 

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”



Darkstone
Immortal


Jul 13 2007, 2:17pm

Post #10 of 12 (220 views)
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Well [In reply to] Can't Post

Rape is not about sex, it's about violence and humiliation. One wonders if this was somewhat inspired by what Tolkien saw or heard of some of the darker aspects of Britain's public school culture.

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”



Saelind
Lorien


Jul 24 2007, 4:20am

Post #11 of 12 (188 views)
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comments [In reply to] Can't Post

Turin says that Saeros will pay for his scorn so he humilates him so that it matches what Saeros said about Morwen. It is a rather "icky" section in general and much more modern in tone than much of the story.

There is an interesting bit where Turin almost releases Saeros. "Before Mablung spoke he had been on the point of releasing Saeros, but now with a shout he sprang after him again;..." It reminds me of the Cirith Ungol passage where Gollum almost repents of his betrayal of Frodo.
Sam is sharp with him and the moment lost.

Poor Mablung, this won't be the last time he has a tragic encounter with Turin.


Wynnie
Rohan


Jul 30 2007, 1:34am

Post #12 of 12 (414 views)
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Orc-play vs. Orc-words [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
In CoH, Túrin's retort is:"Orc-work there was; this is only Orc-play."
which differs from the Unfinished Tales version:"Orc-work in the woods for Orc-words in the hall!"


I assume both versions were penned by JRRT, but CT changed his mind about which was ultimately preferred. I like the UT sentence for its better parallel structure, but the thrust of the CoH variation is different and probably more apt in the situation. If Túrin justifies "Orc-work" because of "Orc-words in the hall", it sounds like he stewed overnight and looked for revenge in the morning, that he had no further provocation. "Orc-play" following "Orc-work" is more ambiguous; Mablung may interpret the latter as a reference to the previous evening's quarrel, but only because he knows nothing of the morning ambush, which is, I'm sure, what Túrin actually means.




To the Sea, to the Sea! The white gulls are crying,
The wind is blowing, and the white foam is flying.



 
 

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