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The Children of Hurin Discussion: The Childhood of Turin, and The Battle of Unnumbered Tears
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CuriousG
Half-elven


May 3 2014, 12:08am

Post #1 of 74 (1155 views)
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The Children of Hurin Discussion: The Childhood of Turin, and The Battle of Unnumbered Tears Can't Post

Welcome to our COH discussion! Everyone is welcome to join in as long as you know who Turin is.

Tokien had three primary stories to tell about his legendarium that fall in the First Age: Beren and Luthien, the Fall of Gondolin, and Hurin’s family. B&Lu show romance overcoming all odds, even death. Gondolin’s fall shows its people’s heroism against overwhelming odds, and a fraction of that people manage to survive. The family of Hurin has no happy ending and no survival, and the characters’ heroic acts usually turn against them. The Third Age tale of The Lord of the Rings is thematically most like B&L, where much is lost and gained in the fight but the general outcome is good and hopeful (I did say “general.”). Hurin’s family’s fate most closely aligns with the Denethor & Boromir story arcs of LOTR, where things repeatedly go wrong and end badly, and death provides the only way out of a twisted situation. Chronologically, Turin’s story falls between Beren & Luthien and Gondolin's ruin; he’s connected to Beren through his mother and to Gondolin through his father and paternal cousin.

The forces that shape Turin:
1. Parents
2. Sisters
3. Sador
4. Politics

PARENTS
Warm-hearted, joking Hurin reminds me of Tulkas: a powerful warrior swift to anger and swift to laughter. Morwen is “the most beautiful woman” ever, yet aloof, and permanently saddened by the losses of the Dagor Bragollach. Though Morwen is much colder than Hurin, in his boyhood Turin feels closer to her because of her directness, whereas Hurin is often away from home with the Elves and when he returns, he seems alien, “full of strange words and jests and half-meanings.” Yet Turin’s spirit is fiery like Hurin’s, though having a fiery spirit isn’t always a good thing (Feanor, anyone?).

Hurin is an ideal war hero: strong, brave, terrific in battle, etc, but not an ideal father since his son was wary of him. Should that surprise us, or are heroes unnerving by nature, even to their children? Does Hurin seem aware of Turin's distance from him? Would a good parenting book tell him to take Turin to work with him, or does every family have natural fault lines?

A typical mother figure is warm and coddling with the father being stern and disciplinarian, but here the roles are reversed. Why do you think Tolkien cast Morwen, the main child-rearer, as a rigid figure? Was she a source of strength for Turin, or the source of his lifelong confusion about women? How does Morwen's courage compare to Hurin's?

Do Hurin & Morwen seem realistic as a married couple, or idealized? What other characters do Hurin and Morwen remind you of? I see some similarity to Aldarion and Erendis, since Aldarion was passionate like Hurin while Erendis was reserved like Morwen. How do they compare to other couples like Thingol & Melian, Faramir & Eowyn, etc?



CuriousG
Half-elven


May 3 2014, 12:19am

Post #2 of 74 (812 views)
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Sisters and Sador [In reply to] Can't Post

We had a discussion awhile back about how many kids are referred to by "The Children of Hurin." To me the tale primarily follows Turin's life, with Nienor as supporting actor, and I tend to forget his first sister, but in real terms, any family that loses a child never forgets them even if they never mention them.

SISTERS
From laughter to sadness: the tone of life in Beleriand is personified in the names of Turin’s sisters. The first is called Laughter, and of course in a tragedy, someone with that name is doomed to die. His second, surviving sister is the Tear-maiden, born after the Battle of Unnumbered Tears.

Turin and his sisters: Turin starts life shy and strong and never seems to lose those traits. He avoids other children but spies on his sister to protect her. Is it just protection, or is he vicariously living through her? In real life, would a parent be worried by his behavior, or is it normal?

Try to imagine Turin without the sisters of Laughter and Tears (they almost sound like Muses). How do you think he’d be different if he’d had brothers or was an only child or was the youngest of several boys?

How much fate can Morgoth twist: would the delightful sister, Urwen Lalaith, had she survived the plague of the Evil Breath, been a positive influence on Turin, or was she caught in the same curse despite her positive psyche? Given that Urwen died from Morgoth's plague before he ever cursed Hurin's family, does it seem that Turin's dark fate was spun before the curse was ever uttered?

Evil Breath: why didn’t Morgoth try biological warfare more often against men? This was only once, and it seemed to work, though it failed at genocide, if that was his goal.

SADOR
Turin and Sador: does this friendship remind anyone of Frodo and Sam? There’s never another story from the First Age where someone of high lineage befriends a servant. We never hear a single word from a named servant: Luthien’s ladies-in-waiting, Fingolfin’s squire, Turgon’s cup-bearer, Melian’s chamber-maid--you get the idea. It never happens. Turin & Sador are like a Downton Abbey show of the rich interacting with the servant class.

Since this is so rare in Tolkien, why do you think he chose to focus on it? What does it say about Turin’s character that would otherwise be lacking in the story? How obvious do you find the Sador-Brandir “clubfoot” comparison? How does Turin’s treatment of Sador compare with Hurin’s and Morwen’s attitudes toward him? What does Turin learn from Sador, and why do you think he singled him out for close friendship and not just pity?


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 3 2014, 12:40am

Post #3 of 74 (766 views)
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Politics [In reply to] Can't Post

POLITICS
Like any child, the adults around Turin are shaping his world while he’s largely unaware of politics: alliances, troop movements, and plotting for the post-war spoils. Hurin, in whose “company the hopeful ever seemed the more likely,” spoke privately with Morwen of their combined fortune to come when Ladros would be restored to her and he would have Dor-Lomin. Turin was destined to “come to great wealth, and be a king among Men,” though instead war brings the loss of his father and his family’s fall in fortune. After the Nirnaeth, there is never again any idea of beating Morgoth in war, only of hiding from him and somehow surviving, and Turin goes from prince to pauper.

How much of Turin’s life is dictated by the politics surrounding him? Does he seem like a political character himself, a player in the arena, or someone on the receiving end? How much of the Morwen-Hurin marriage was based on political unity and how much on romance? If they had stayed together, would she have kept having children until she could produce another son as backup to Turin in case he died?

Hurin has met his equal in politics when discussing them with Morwen. She shrewdly plays "the Beren card" when thinking of refuge for their children in Doriath. Given that Beren promptly left Doriath after his resurrection, why should she assume she could rely on her kinship with him as a claim on Thingol's favor, especially given his scorn of her race?

Speaking of scorn, what prompts Morwen's scornful attitude toward the Folk of Haleth? What made the houses of Beor and Hador so superior? ("The House of Beor has fallen. If the great House of Hador falls, in what holes shall the little Folk of Haleth creep?")

Excess pride rarely does a person in Middle-earth (or any tragedy) any good. Is Morwen justly proud, or does she cross the line into excess? Is her unhappy fate to wander the wilderness like a wild animal karmic revenge for hubris, or was her pride a necessary source of strength? And if you are the most beautiful woman ever, how can you be humble?

Ulmo intervenes in the lives of Hurin and Huor, but not in Turin’s except for the healing at Ivrin, and Turin could certainly use some intervention. He and Nienor both die by a river, and other times when near rivers, nothing happens to help them. (Finduilas is killed near a river). How do you explain Ulmo helping the father but not the children?


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 3 2014, 1:01am

Post #4 of 74 (770 views)
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War [In reply to] Can't Post

The Battle of Unnumbered Tears is dizzyingly sad. While it doesn't bring me to tears, and while I find it very well-written, it leaves me feeling down, so it's not something I re-read a lot. How effectively does Tolkien dangle hope of victory in front of readers' faces and then snatch it away? What exactly makes it so sad and not just another battle?

Do you want to read more detail about the battle, or do you get enough? Would you like more big picture information about troop movements, or more about the fighting from individual perspectives?

Turgon manages to fight literally to Fingon's side in language reminiscent of Aragorn and Eomer on the Pelennor Fields: "Turgon hewed his way to the side of his brother. And it is said that the meeting of Turgon with Hurin who stood beside Fingon was glad in the midst of the battle." We just need a black-sailed fleet to come up Sirion! But how exactly were they swept apart by Morgoth's armies if they were standing next to each other?

I never quite understand the time and distance involved. The Nirnaeth Arnoediad doesn't officially begin until the 4th day of the war. So the first 3 days were so one-sided that they weren't worthy of tears, then the retreat was also disastrously one-sided? Turgon doesn't show up until the 5th day--what was he doing until then? If Fingon can see with Elven sight all the way to Maedhros' front lines, why couldn't he see Turgon's approach before he arrived? Wasn't anyone looking that way? In turn, why couldn't Turgon see Fingon fighting for several days?

Gondolin fielded an impressive army ("for the sword and harness of the least of the warriors of Turgon was worth more than the ransom of any king among Men"), but what did it accomplish?

The battle begins and ends with individual actions: Gwindor's rash assault and Hurin's last stand. Does anyone else wish (sorry) that Gwindor had been killed before he could break ranks? Does anyone else find it creepy to think of the dead Orc hands still clinging to Hurin?


DaughterofLaketown
Gondor


May 3 2014, 3:30am

Post #5 of 74 (773 views)
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I was always interested in this aspect [In reply to] Can't Post

 

SISTERS
From laughter to sadness: the tone of life in Beleriand is personified in the names of Turin’s sisters. The first is called Laughter, and of course in a tragedy, someone with that name is doomed to die. His second, surviving sister is the Tear-maiden, born after the Battle of Unnumbered Tears.

Turin and his sisters: Turin starts life shy and strong and never seems to lose those traits. He avoids other children but spies on his sister to protect her. Is it just protection, or is he vicariously living through her? In real life, would a parent be worried by his behavior, or is it normal?

I think there were hints of incest present in Turin's character from the beginning. Turin was very isolated emotionally by choice and by circumstances. His protection of his sister sprang from this need to nurture someone. In today's world this might me a matter of concern but I don't think this would have been noticed as much in Turin's family, no one questions whether his behaviors is normal. Whether this was because they didn't know or didn't see it that way is up for debate.


(This post was edited by DaughterofLaketown on May 3 2014, 3:30am)


Mikah
Lorien

May 3 2014, 10:36am

Post #6 of 74 (727 views)
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Good question CG/ [In reply to] Can't Post

As I have been bedridden with the flu the past few days I find myself awake at 03:00 am and it seems as good as time as any to respond to your first posts!

Does Hurin seem aware of Turin's distance from him?

This is a really good question. As many times as I have read this story, I have never asked myself this question. Now that you have proposed it, I am very curious to read what others thoughts on this are. I do now find myself wondering if Hurin's distance from Turin was par for the course during this time in Beleriand or is indeed a sign of some rift in this particular families dynamic. I know that in military families during times of war in this age and Tolkien's, soldiers are often absent. It may seem strange to those not of military background, but it is quite rather normal (as normal as a military upbringing can be), to the families of soldiers. Each finds their own way of dealing with it. I also find myself wondering how much Morwen was changed by the death of Lalaith. We really do not know much of Morwen before her death, but I philosophize that perhaps there was a change? Was Morwen always so rigid?

I believe that in this particular circumstance with the approach of inevitable war, it would be natural for Morwen to be the main-rearer. In this situation however, it was not an ideal situation for Turin. She was rigid, to say the very least. Her pride rubbed off on him more than a little. It seems in Tolkien's world (and perhaps in ours) pride is often a prelude to disaster. Much of Turin's greatness is often negated by his pride. Could this pride also have been unknowingly impressed upon him by Thingol? I think of two of the main influences in Turin's childhood, Morwen and Thingol, and they both hold a primary attribute of pride. In Turin's case is does more harm than good. Come to think of it, pride does play a part in the demise of Thingol as well, doesn't it? Interesting parallel. There I go again, thinking out loud!

I definitely see the similarity that you bring up CG, between this family and Aldarion and Erendis. Morwen reminds me a bit of Erendis, without the mean-streak.



Mikah
Lorien

May 3 2014, 11:10am

Post #7 of 74 (740 views)
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Interesting subject indeed.... [In reply to] Can't Post

I have often wondered what kind of effect Morwen's reaction to Lalaith's death had upon Turin. In the book Morwen tells Turin "Because Urwen is dead and laughter is stilled in this house." To me it seems to imply that there is no happiness, nor will there ever be. The story also tells us that she did not seek to comfort him or herself. Seems a bit harsh to me. What is Morwen impressing upon her young son with this reaction? The death of a child is a grievous thing, to be certain. However, I believe that Morwen's reaction may have shaped Turin as much, if not more than the death of his sister did. He was left alone at a very young age, to deal with a tragedy of incomprehensible weight. As you point out DaughterofLaketown, he felt very protective over Lalaith. Do you think perhaps he felt some guilt over her death? I also wonder if Hurin shared Morwen's sense of despair after the death of their young daughter. I also think you make a very good point when you say that his protective instinct toward his sister sprang up from his need to nurture someone. Interesting thought there. The very thing that Turin never really got, nurturing...is the very thing he seeks to give.

If there were any signs of dysfunction early on with Turin, I doubt that they would have been noticed. Turin's primary caretaker is Morwen and I regret to say that she is a primary cause of said dysfunction. With that in mind I believe that she probably would not notice. You know the saying "one can't see the forest for the trees." I believe that Hurin was caught up in thoughts of war, Morwen was caught up in grief, and little mind was paid to Turin, other than by Sador, who knew him better than anyone did at this time. I wonder what he thought of all that was going on?


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


May 3 2014, 1:59pm

Post #8 of 74 (718 views)
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Houses of Men [In reply to] Can't Post

Doing a little research, this is what I found on each house:

Haleth: They were attacked and driven from the realms granted them by the Elf-Kings near to where Bëor met Finrod. After the Dagor Bragollach when many were killed, they removed to the south woods in Doriath that were outside the Girdle of Melian. Eventually though, they migrated further south into the forest of Brethil becoming the cautious people that Turin met in the woods there--the people of Brandir. Nothing is recorded of them after the massacre of their people before the ruin of Beleriand, except that the remnant becomes the Dunlendings.

Bëor- This house was the first to meet Elves and form friendships. They were least in number, yet ruled the Three Houses of Men, led by Bëor the Old. They were scattered and disbanded in the Dagor Bragollach, mingling with the other houses and disappearing. Notable descendants: Barahir, Andreth, Morwen, and Beren. They were completely assimilated by the other houses.

Hador-(Marach) The most numerous of the three Houses. They too were driven off by he Dagor Bragollach, but maintained their inner cohesion. They continued to aid the Elves and were the main proportion of Men who were gifted Númenor. This is the house of Hurin et al. They are also the ones of whose lore Andreth speaks to Finrod concerning the Fate of Men and Elves.

Keep in mind that there was quite a bit of mingling between houses. Brandir was not too distant in blood from all three houses.

Perhaps the disdain you note in Morwen is foreshadowing the timid nature and final decline of the people of Haleth? Or perhaps she fears that the fate of the Bëorling might befall them as it did her people? (Anyone think of Bëorn here? Coincidence?) Might her pride come from her fallen status as a descendant of Bëor?

Might the optimism of Húrin be a general trait exemplifies by thier philosophy of 'The Old Hope' in the Athrabeth?

Call me Rem, and remember, not all who ramble are lost...Uh...where was I?

(This post was edited by Rembrethil on May 3 2014, 2:06pm)


Brethil
Half-elven


May 3 2014, 2:23pm

Post #9 of 74 (719 views)
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Great lead off CG! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

Hurin is an ideal war hero: strong, brave, terrific in battle, etc, but not an ideal father since his son was wary of him. Should that surprise us, or are heroes unnerving by nature, even to their children? Does Hurin seem aware of Turin's distance from him? Would a good parenting book tell him to take Turin to work with him, or does every family have natural fault lines?

A typical mother figure is warm and coddling with the father being stern and disciplinarian, but here the roles are reversed. Why do you think Tolkien cast Morwen, the main child-rearer, as a rigid figure? Was she a source of strength for Turin, or the source of his lifelong confusion about women? How does Morwen's courage compare to Hurin's?

Do Hurin & Morwen seem realistic as a married couple, or idealized? What other characters do Hurin and Morwen remind you of? I see some similarity to Aldarion and Erendis, since Aldarion was passionate like Hurin while Erendis was reserved like Morwen. How do they compare to other couples like Thingol & Melian, Faramir & Eowyn, etc?


I am grouping these questions together under one answer because I think they have a common thread. I feel that one of the places that JRRT tied the Kullervo tale with Turin was through this childhood; though he treats Morwen and Hurin relatively gently. The moral theme at the end of Kullervo's disastrous life is that children must be loved, or they will develop dark thoughts and deeds. JRRT did that with subtle methods in Turin's tale: his parents do not abuse him, or sell him into slavery, but in their own way each is distant and has withdrawn their attention from Turin. Hurin has war, and the weight of ties to the Elves to keep him away from home and puzzling to his family when he is there. Morwen is already a soldier's wife, complete with the emotional reserve and strength to hold the family together with a nobly deployed husband - but the death of Lalaith seems to pull her too, away from emotional connection to Turin. She cuts the family off both from happiness and from grieving, holding it in a state of perpetual mourning. Again, no dishonor: but silently decrying the lack of warm humanity that I find so important in JRRT's works, even in his letters.

So I think JRRT made conditions for a detached family to create the flawed hero that follows in Kullervo's path, yet it is done without dishonor: each parent is superficially functioning, even nobly. But the flaw in the dynamic is there, its just laid in very quietly as opposed to openly. The surface of Morwen and Hurin do not reflect the inner workings of the family; and they are both goal-driven, and do not see the danger in raising a strong son yet giving him almost no warm, softly loving emotional tethers.

I find this quote interesting: after the death of Lalaith Morwen tells Turin, "But you live, son of Morwen; and so does the enemy that has done this to us." She almost hands him the burden of revenge here doesn't she? As 'son of Morwen' - a bit mechanical, like his identity here is only as her son, reflecting her pain, and existing primarily as the dead child's brother: and the Enemy lives, so the laughter is stilled and thus the Enemy must be dealt a blow. Quite an impression to leave on a child whose other parent is a distant, skilled and loyal warrior.

What fun...off to talk more!!! Thanks for starting us off, I am really looking forward to the journey through this book. Cool





The Third TORn Amateur Symposium kicks off this Sunday, April 13th, in the Reading Room. Come and join us for Tolkien-inspired writings!





**CoH Rem. Just sayin' **


(This post was edited by Brethil on May 3 2014, 2:27pm)


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


May 3 2014, 2:33pm

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Parents [In reply to] Can't Post

I think here are a lot of things that could be pointed to as 'wrong' in Túrin's childhood. His plain speaking mother who seems to nurture a precocity within him, but then she seems to neglect to give him the answers and wisdom he needs to cope with such a matter-of-fact existence. It's like he is given a gun, told how it works, then left to become a marksman by himself. Morwen seems to be wise and collected, but it seems like a developed skill that Túrin emulates, but cannot master because she will not teach him her experiences. So when she clams up after her daughter's death Túrin is left alone to ponder the theatrics of his father, and I passivity of his mother. What does he do? Cry or seal away his emotions?

Then you have his father. A happy man, given to song and laughter, but not near enough to inspire Túrin out of the reserved mood he has learned from his mother. He has the ability to show his son the poetry and wonder in the world, but seems too focused on the future and his personal vendetta against Morgoth. He has a great big-picture outlook, making him a superior counsellor and tactician, but the mundane is lost. He does seem to be the outgoing parent in this relationship, but he could by reason of abscence, fill the reserved parent's shoes, so Túrin learns his mirth,(or lack of it) from the caring parent, Morwen.

So Túrin seems to a conflicted hybrid of his parents, but without the unique characteristics or qualifications of either. He really seems to vacillate between the hot tempered strength of Húrin and the quietly reserved solidity of Morwen, without understanding to mechanics or purpose of either. Maybe his is why he makes so many mistakes? He follows another's example without comprehending the factors and circumstances at play?

Call me Rem, and remember, not all who ramble are lost...Uh...where was I?

(This post was edited by Rembrethil on May 3 2014, 2:41pm)


Brethil
Half-elven


May 3 2014, 2:52pm

Post #11 of 74 (707 views)
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Sador and sisters as influences [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
We had a discussion awhile back about how many kids are referred to by "The Children of Hurin." To me the tale primarily follows Turin's life, with Nienor as supporting actor, and I tend to forget his first sister, but in real terms, any family that loses a child never forgets them even if they never mention them. I agree with this wholeheartedly CG. And poor Lalaith has more influence on Turin that people who are alive.

SISTERS

Turin and his sisters: Turin starts life shy and strong and never seems to lose those traits. He avoids other children but spies on his sister to protect her. Is it just protection, or is he vicariously living through her? In real life, would a parent be worried by his behavior, or is it normal? Given Morwen's state of eternal mourning, and even the name of the new baby (Tear-maiden? Really?) marks the family as stuck in place. The fate of Lalaith overshadows the two surviving children, and Turin has been appointed as 'Son of Morwen' and thus I think given some responsibility and fear beyond his years by both Morwen's grief and Hurin's sense of honor.

Try to imagine Turin without the sisters of Laughter and Tears (they almost sound like Muses). How do you think he’d be different if he’d had brothers or was an only child or was the youngest of several boys? Interesting question...it may have changed the dynamic a bit I suppose. It would all depend on how Morwen responded to loss and if there was more support or relief from grief for Turin. Among a group of sons - maybe the sense of responsibility would have been shared out; or, perhaps it would have fallen on the eldest son, whomever that was?

How much fate can Morgoth twist: would the delightful sister, Urwen Lalaith, had she survived the plague of the Evil Breath, been a positive influence on Turin, or was she caught in the same curse despite her positive psyche? Given that Urwen died from Morgoth's plague before he ever cursed Hurin's family, does it seem that Turin's dark fate was spun before the curse was ever uttered? The seeds of Turin's fate are indeed sowed well before a curse is uttered. The family's loss and their already diverted attentions and burdens set the wheels in motion. Compare here Turin and Tuor: so many similarities yet Tuor never seems to struggle beneath a heavy burden. Events happen but Tuor moves past them. Turin does not seem to be able to do that, and that pattern stars early in life based on what he sees. Had Lalaith lived, things *may* have been different for the family, certainly for Morwen and thus maybe for Turin.

Evil Breath: why didn’t Morgoth try biological warfare more often against men? This was only once, and it seemed to work, though it failed at genocide, if that was his goal. It seems a one-off: a distant way to reach out his hand and select a child (almost passover-like, sad and disturbing) from a household. Literary wise, it works as a way to sow grief and fear without a face-to-face confrontation or direct violence.


SADOR
Turin and Sador: does this friendship remind anyone of Frodo and Sam? There’s never another story from the First Age where someone of high lineage befriends a servant. We never hear a single word from a named servant: Luthien’s ladies-in-waiting, Fingolfin’s squire, Turgon’s cup-bearer, Melian’s chamber-maid--you get the idea. It never happens. Turin & Sador are like a Downton Abbey show of the rich interacting with the servant class.

Since this is so rare in Tolkien, why do you think he chose to focus on it? What does it say about Turin’s character that would otherwise be lacking in the story? How obvious do you find the Sador-Brandir “clubfoot” comparison? How does Turin’s treatment of Sador compare with Hurin’s and Morwen’s attitudes toward him? What does Turin learn from Sador, and why do you think he singled him out for close friendship and not just pity?

The rarity I think is because often the earthy wisdom is not imparted; in so much of the legendarium it is the Elf-centered type of wisdom we get via characters. When it happens though, its important, like Sam or Ioreth.

To me, Sador is like the grounding wire for Turin. And I think his words have a part in the moral of JRRT's version of Kullervo. When Sador says to Turin "...the climbing up is painful, and from high places it is easy to fall low..." it feels to me like authorial voice, and the warning of the fable. Hurin seeks to improve men, to bring them higher and closer to the standard of the Elves - yet the cost of his forays, his absences and the darkness that grows within his own house will indeed fall very low from a high place. Not that the evil is to aspire to better things - but that neglect of the human, the daily vigor of life and family, can have unseen and disastrous consequences.

We touched on the idea that JRRT was potentially going to make Sador one of the Druedain; I think that harkens back to the earthy, 'salt-of-the-earth' wisdom that Sador represents. Perhaps that is the clubfoot identification here: one who moves slowly, is connected and aware of in-the-moment and this very aware of the feelings of others. Insight potentially from his very slowness, symbolized by the clubfoot. The opposite philosophically of the restless and distant-goal-centered and unaware pair of parents, Morwen and Hurin.

I think Turin feels a bond of friendship for this man, because of all those things. Someone who is aware of *him*, and talks to him: not at him, about him, or about things far and beyond the every day. And literary-wise, a voice of wisdom (which I think is strongly authorial).


The Third TORn Amateur Symposium kicks off this Sunday, April 13th, in the Reading Room. Come and join us for Tolkien-inspired writings!





**CoH Rem. Just sayin' **


Brethil
Half-elven


May 3 2014, 2:55pm

Post #12 of 74 (696 views)
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THAT is a great way to put it Rem. Nailed it. // [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
It's like he is given a gun, told how it works, then left to become a marksman by himself


The Third TORn Amateur Symposium kicks off this Sunday, April 13th, in the Reading Room. Come and join us for Tolkien-inspired writings!





**CoH Rem. Just sayin' **


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


May 3 2014, 3:06pm

Post #13 of 74 (696 views)
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Overall impression: Foreshadowing. [In reply to] Can't Post

If I had to sum up these chapters in one word, I'd say 'foreshadowing'. There is A LOT of it in these chapters.

The custom of the sons of Hador to foster at Brethil and fight the Enemy.

Ulmo's aid to the brothers, Huor and Húrin, then Tuor.

Húrin's pride in his resolve not to betray Turgon.

Túrin born 'with omens of sorrow'.

The weight and onus of revenge put on Túrin by his parents and the effect that Morgoth has on him from an early age via Black Breath.

Túrin's declaration that he would not be afraid, or at least, not show fear--so akin to pride.

The converse of Morwen and Húrin expressing doubt as to the issue of the battle.

Their unease when they mention the ill-fated kingdoms that Túrin visits.

Húrin's battle-clarity in his talk to Turgon.

I could go on, but this we me sufficient. I think of this tale as quite different from Tolkien's other tales. In this style, it most resembles tragic epics complete with curses, revenge, and bitter irony in almost clichéd forms of plot turns. Predictable, but powerful. This structure doesn't allow for too much scrutiny, counting on the ephemera of curses and legend to cover logical flaws, so I don't think too deeply as to the why's and wherefores. It is still fun to do so, but mostly fruitless.

Call me Rem, and remember, not all who ramble are lost...Uh...where was I?


Mikah
Lorien

May 3 2014, 3:21pm

Post #14 of 74 (696 views)
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All of this is brilliant Brethil... [In reply to] Can't Post

I think that this post captures the whole tone and mood of the story to come.

I find this quote interesting: after the death of Lalaith Morwen tells Turin, "But you live, son of Morwen; and so does the enemy that has done this to us." She almost hands him the burden of revenge here doesn't she? As 'son of Morwen' - a bit mechanical, like his identity here is only as her son, reflecting her pain, and existing primarily as the dead child's brother: and the Enemy lives, so the laughter is stilled and thus the Enemy must be dealt a blow. Quite an impression to leave on a child whose other parent is a distant, skilled and loyal warrior.

I remember first reading the quote you reference and thinking hmmm, no good can come of this. I am in full agreement that she does hand him the burden of revenge here. It makes me wonder if Hurin had not been captured would Turin's ambition been much the same? As a child he says that he wishes to wound Morgoth the way that Fingolfin did. I believe that here the desire for revenge was set in motion, the events which follow are just the added ingredients in the recipe of the heroic disaster that Turin's life will become. It will be interesting to see the part that other's play in his upbringing, whether for good or for ill.


Brethil
Half-elven


May 3 2014, 3:26pm

Post #15 of 74 (696 views)
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The Old Hope and Savior concepts [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

Might the optimism of Húrin be a general trait exemplifies by thier philosophy of 'The Old Hope' in the Athrabeth?


It seems like Hurin has an epiphany moment, that night when Turin is eight and he has troubling dreams. He seems to have ultimate faith in the Elves before this, yet awakens to say something a bit shaken. He sees change coming, yet tells Morwen 'do not be afraid!' and tells her to seek the People of Haleth. Like he is returning a bit to the idea that the Hope lies somehow in a place that he has not seen, having placed all of his faith in the strength of the Firstborn before then. Morwen does not share this hope, as we see, and dismisses the People of Haleth.

What is fascinating to me is that with the People of Haleth as distant ancestors of Aragorn - Hope, Estel - it *does* lie within Men. So we could postulate Aragorn as the savior-figure of Middle-earth predating and perhaps fore-running JRRT's own belief in a divine Savior? So maybe it is a turning point for Hurin, to begin to feel this way: and it may indeed reflect the Old Hope, though I don't know if he 'knows' it, in so many words?

The Third TORn Amateur Symposium kicks off this Sunday, April 13th, in the Reading Room. Come and join us for Tolkien-inspired writings!





**CoH Rem. Just sayin' **


Brethil
Half-elven


May 3 2014, 3:31pm

Post #16 of 74 (689 views)
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Oooh - another great quote Mikah [In reply to] Can't Post

About Turin wishing to wound Morgoth as Fingolfin did. I am sure he was told that story from youth by Hurin, with pride for Fingolfin's bravery. *Doomed* bravery, being the subtext. So from birth parents we get the idea of vengeance, in this example with self-sacrifice. As Rem posted upthread, both parents contributing parts of themselves to form the child-Turin.

(So sorry to hear you have the flu!!! Best wishes to feel better - though selfishly its good to see you here!) AngelicAngelic

The Third TORn Amateur Symposium kicks off this Sunday, April 13th, in the Reading Room. Come and join us for Tolkien-inspired writings!





**CoH Rem. Just sayin' **


Mikah
Lorien

May 3 2014, 3:48pm

Post #17 of 74 (693 views)
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Sador... [In reply to] Can't Post

Turin and Sador: does this friendship remind anyone of Frodo and Sam? There’s never another story from the First Age where someone of high lineage befriends a servant. We never hear a single word from a named servant: Luthien’s ladies-in-waiting, Fingolfin’s squire, Turgon’s cup-bearer, Melian’s chamber-maid--you get the idea. It never happens. Turin & Sador are like a Downton Abbey show of the rich interacting with the servant class.

Since this is so rare in Tolkien, why do you think he chose to focus on it? What does it say about Turin’s character that would otherwise be lacking in the story? How obvious do you find the Sador-Brandir “clubfoot” comparison? How does Turin’s treatment of Sador compare with Hurin’s and Morwen’s attitudes toward him? What does Turin learn from Sador, and why do you think he singled him out for close friendship and not just pity?


You know you are right CG. There really is not any other examples from the First Age which make mention of a servant is there? I personally feel as though this friendship blossomed out of Turin's lack of close bonds during this time. His father away much of the time and his emotionally distant mother created a need for some type of warmth. Sador provided what his parents could not give him. He is readily available and wise beyond what he is given credit for. Turin has a relationship with Sador and knows him in a way that his parents do not. Propinquity does often create the foundation for love. It is interesting to me that Morwen's scorn for the weak does not rub off on Turin. As a matter of fact, after Turin's gift of the knife he notices that Sador is treated more kindly afterwards. Perhaps Turin's kindness rubbed off a bit on Morwen?


Brethil
Half-elven


May 3 2014, 3:54pm

Post #18 of 74 (694 views)
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Tears and hewed hands [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The Battle of Unnumbered Tears is dizzyingly sad. While it doesn't bring me to tears, and while I find it very well-written, it leaves me feeling down, so it's not something I re-read a lot. How effectively does Tolkien dangle hope of victory in front of readers' faces and then snatch it away? What exactly makes it so sad and not just another battle?
Do you want to read more detail about the battle, or do you get enough? Would you like more big picture information about troop movements, or more about the fighting from individual perspectives?
For me it gives me enough detail - especially since the emphasis of the details given are on the Elves and their choices, and the 'withering of the flower' of the Eldar. Then we get that zoom-in on Huor and Turgon: a sentinel moment. So I like the contrasts.

Turgon manages to fight literally to Fingon's side in language reminiscent of Aragorn and Eomer on the Pelennor Fields: "Turgon hewed his way to the side of his brother. And it is said that the meeting of Turgon with Hurin who stood beside Fingon was glad in the midst of the battle." We just need a black-sailed fleet to come up Sirion! But how exactly were they swept apart by Morgoth's armies if they were standing next to each other? It seems in a lot of JRRT's war scenes we get the sense of turn-of-the-century style hand-to-hand combat, mixed in with the new mechanical threats. Soldiers and friends could be united, find each other, and chat or share rations in a quiet pocket; only to be suddenly overrun (in my mind, picturing early tanks) and split apart as the field explodes. I don't think one if us who hasn't experienced combat could write like this; and none of us living have experienced trench-type warfare of the First World War which I think colors all of JRRT's writings on war. So that I think is how we get heroes (and Orcs) in both heavy hand-to-hand combat yet also eating lunch. War is a bizarre business, and it shows it I think in how he writes these passages. Surreal!

I never quite understand the time and distance involved. The Nirnaeth Arnoediad doesn't officially begin until the 4th day of the war. So the first 3 days were so one-sided that they weren't worthy of tears, then the retreat was also disastrously one-sided? Turgon doesn't show up until the 5th day--what was he doing until then? If Fingon can see with Elven sight all the way to Maedhros' front lines, why couldn't he see Turgon's approach before he arrived? Wasn't anyone looking that way? In turn, why couldn't Turgon see Fingon fighting for several days? I get the impression Turgon was holding back, as was Fingon, until they were swept by emotion, domino-style, after Gwindor loses it upon seeing his brother. Reminds me of some of the theories I have read about the defeat of Boudicca by the Romans; potentially the sharp discipline and tight ranks of the Romans and the relative partisan-style of the Bryonic tribesman was emphasized by some action by the Romans that incensed the tribesman, and all semblance of order was lost in a disastrous frontal charge against phalanxes. Almost what happens here, with less distinction among the fighting styles.

Gondolin fielded an impressive army ("for the sword and harness of the least of the warriors of Turgon was worth more than the ransom of any king among Men"), but what did it accomplish? Well - though not practically accomplishing much - it allows for the words of Huor to pave the way for Tuor, and Earendil...in itself, maybe worth the cost of the battle that day.

The battle begins and ends with individual actions: Gwindor's rash assault and Hurin's last stand. Does anyone else wish (sorry) that Gwindor had been killed before he could break ranks? Does anyone else find it creepy to think of the dead Orc hands still clinging to Hurin? Gwindor; what a hot mess. And I agree, that hands-clinging image is quite creepy. Like the hands of demons, trying to pull him down to Hell. Yucko.



The Third TORn Amateur Symposium kicks off this Sunday, April 13th, in the Reading Room. Come and join us for Tolkien-inspired writings!





**CoH Rem. Just sayin' **


(This post was edited by Brethil on May 3 2014, 3:55pm)


Neldoreth
The Shire


May 3 2014, 4:34pm

Post #19 of 74 (688 views)
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Searching for his father [In reply to] Can't Post

What a great discussion. I’ve really been looking forward to it.
My take on Turin and his watching Lalaith at play is twofold. First, it seems natural for Turin to be curious and fascinated by this little one who is outgoing, beautiful and loved by everyone she meets. She is so much his opposite in every respect that he is probably trying to figure her out! From her outward appearance to her easy-going personality, she is much more Hurin’s daughter whereas Turin resembles Morwen in both nature and appearance. I think he saw his father in Lalaith and that increased his fascination with her, while still needing to keep his distance. As for watching her from afar, I thought that was his own way of imitating their father. Their father was often away at war, making him a distant protector of his people and his family. Turin did not just watch Lalaith, but watched over her. When he fell sick and awoke to find that she had died, I believe he took this to heart as a great failure on his part to protect her and this was a pattern that he was doomed to repeat.


Terazed
Bree

May 3 2014, 4:41pm

Post #20 of 74 (701 views)
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Sador as a mythologic figure [In reply to] Can't Post

It is interesting to think about whom Sador may represent in mythology. The lame or club footed craftsman is a well known figure in mythology. In Greek mythology he is Hephaestus the Greek god of blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes a.k.a Vulcan in Roman mythology. There is bit of a tie in here in the 19th century at least with the ideal of the artistic or creative hero (or genius). A physical or mental lameness gives the genius/artist greater insight into the human condition which they express in their art.

In Norse mythology the lame craftsman is Wyland the Smith. Wyland forges the magic sword Gram aka Balmung or Nothung (Need). Odin drives the sword in a tree and Sigmund pulls it out. Sigmund sleeps with his sister has a son. Sigmund becomes an outlaw in the woods. Odin eventually shatters Gram/Nothung and Sigmund is killed in battle. His son Sigurd inherits the broken sword. He is raised by the twisted and vengeful Regin who Wagner turned into the dwarf Mime (think Mim here). Regin cons/raises Sigurd for the sole purpose of killing the giant turned into a dragon Fafner in order to obtain the cursed gold and ring of the Nibelung (dweller in the mists) hoard. After that Regin/Mime intends to kill Sigurd. Sigurd does kill the dragon by hiding in a pit and driving his sword into the dragon's belly. Sigurd either drinks the blood or in some versions touches the blood on his sword which burns his hand (which he then puts in his mouth to cool). The dragon's blood allows him to listen to the birds' songs (gives him wisdom or prophesy) which warn him of Regin/Mime's treachery and Sigurd kills him and keeps the cursed Nibelung hoard.

It is easy to think of Turin as Kullervo but he is also as much Sigmund and Sigurd as well.

Viewed this way there are several possible ways to think of Sador. Could he be the forger of a living sword (Turin) who is broken and remade? Does his lameness make him a source of parental wisdom for Turin? Does Turin have to come back and be responsible for Sador's death in order to conquer his father figure from which he go on and marry his sister (a subconscious mother figure for him) in psychological terms? I can think of many more but it is a start.


(This post was edited by Terazed on May 3 2014, 4:44pm)


Mikah
Lorien

May 3 2014, 5:07pm

Post #21 of 74 (681 views)
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Welcome and great insight! [In reply to] Can't Post

It is great to have you here! Turin as distant protector to Lalaith, much as his father was to him? I can get on board with that. You make a good point here. When you mention that Lalaith had many of the characteristics of her father, while Turin takes on many of the characteristics of his mother. it does now seem rather obvious that Turin does seek to understand his father through his sister. Great insight here. Perhaps if he understood her, then he would better understand his father? I agree with you that there was a sense of guilt on Turin's part when he awoke to learn of his sister's death. I am thinking that Morwen's reaction to Lalaith's death was also a catalyst to Turin's doom.

I also now see the parallels of Turin's perception of having failed his sister and in many ways, Hurin failing to protect his family, when captured by Morgoth. It almost seems as though Turin is doomed to repeat the mistakes of both of his parents.


DaughterofLaketown
Gondor


May 3 2014, 7:03pm

Post #22 of 74 (666 views)
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I like this [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
It is interesting to think about whom Sador may represent in mythology. The lame or club footed craftsman is a well known figure in mythology. In Greek mythology he is Hephaestus the Greek god of blacksmiths...


This is exactly what I thought of ! Very keen observation.


Brethil
Half-elven


May 3 2014, 7:42pm

Post #23 of 74 (664 views)
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Hello Neldoreth! Well said, I agree on this part very much. [In reply to] Can't Post

When he fell sick and awoke to find that she had died, I believe he took this to heart as a great failure on his part to protect her and this was a pattern that he was doomed to repeat.


The Third TORn Amateur Symposium kicks off this Sunday, April 13th, in the Reading Room. Come and join us for Tolkien-inspired writings!





**CoH Rem. Just sayin' **


Brethil
Half-elven


May 3 2014, 7:56pm

Post #24 of 74 (673 views)
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Mythic influences [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
It is interesting to think about whom Sador may represent in mythology. The lame or club footed craftsman is a well known figure in mythology. In Greek mythology he is Hephaestus the Greek god of blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes a.k.a Vulcan in Roman mythology. There is bit of a tie in here in the 19th century at least with the ideal of the artistic or creative hero (or genius). A physical or mental lameness gives the genius/artist greater insight into the human condition which they express in their art.

In Norse mythology the lame craftsman is Wyland the Smith. Wyland forges the magic sword Gram aka Balmung or Nothung (Need). Odin drives the sword in a tree and Sigmund pulls it out. Sigmund sleeps with his sister has a son. Sigmund becomes an outlaw in the woods. Odin eventually shatters Gram/Nothung and Sigmund is killed in battle. His son Sigurd inherits the broken sword. He is raised by the twisted and vengeful Regin who Wagner turned into the dwarf Mime (think Mim here). Regin cons/raises Sigurd for the sole purpose of killing the giant turned into a dragon Fafner in order to obtain the cursed gold and ring of the Nibelung (dweller in the mists) hoard. After that Regin/Mime intends to kill Sigurd. Sigurd does kill the dragon by hiding in a pit and driving his sword into the dragon's belly. Sigurd either drinks the blood or in some versions touches the blood on his sword which burns his hand (which he then puts in his mouth to cool). The dragon's blood allows him to listen to the birds' songs (gives him wisdom or prophesy) which warn him of Regin/Mime's treachery and Sigurd kills him and keeps the cursed Nibelung hoard.

It is easy to think of Turin as Kullervo but he is also as much Sigmund and Sigurd as well.




Excellent additions from mythology here Terazed, adding depth to the Sador-archetype. I find it intriguing that JRRT could have seen Sador as a Drug, with perhaps thematic ties to Hephaestus and the 'earthy' and grounded crafts and arts. I do agree that much of the 19th century ideals of the lame or afflicted having a different type of wisdom and insight which evades others applies to Sador and his interactions with Turin.

I hadn't considered Sigmund / Sigurd as much as Kullervo, but certainly there are many symbolic links within the story to show the influences.

Intriguing about Odin driving the sword deep into wood, as we see Bilbo do with Sting in later tales. I'm curious, do you see a tie-in with Nordic/Germanic mythology with the gifting of the knife to Sador?

The Third TORn Amateur Symposium kicks off this Sunday, April 13th, in the Reading Room. Come and join us for Tolkien-inspired writings!





**CoH Rem. Just sayin' **


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 4 2014, 1:06am

Post #25 of 74 (647 views)
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Welcome, Neldoreth [In reply to] Can't Post

And I'll echo the others in saying that's a great insight. You've certainly peeled back several layers of this family's onion.

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