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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Moor Gnidaer:
***Favorite Chapters - The Window on the West (LOTR)
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demnation
NahoR

Dec 3 2019, 3:06am

Post #1 of 49 (2173 views)
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***Favorite Chapters - The Window on the West (LOTR) Can't Post

Some musings:

I always like how Tolkien often introduces new characters with an air of mistrust. At the beginning of the chapter, we're truly waiting with baited breathe to see if Faramir is like his brother.

There is some ambiguity as the whether Faramir actually saw his brothers body or not. I myself am not fully satisfied with this but I suppose its moot since we as the reader know that Boromir is gone.

Faramir does consider that duty requires him to present the hobbits to his father, but instantly dismisses it. (in comparison to his film counterpart)

We find out a bit about Gandalfs history, his many names and his search for the ring.

Some questions:
what do you like/dislike about this chapter?

Frodo and Sam feel that it is likely that they are the last survivors of the company. In what ways do you feel this affects them going forward?

Was this a good time for Tolkien to do a bit of an info dump about Gondor? and more important reveal quite a bit about Boromir's character?

Did Sam really screw up by mentioning the ring?

Is Faramir truly a man of quality?

Smile

"It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule." Gandalf, "The Last Debate."


Solicitr
NahoR

Dec 3 2019, 3:22am

Post #2 of 49 (2064 views)
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It could be said that [In reply to] Can't Post

The Lord of the Rings is structured as a series of journeys between havens. Crickhollow, Bombadil's, Bree, Rivendell, Lorien and now Henneth Annun. The havens can be said to be as important as the journeys, because they do represent a place for Frodo and the reader to take a breath, to meet people, to learn about the world they are in (and Middle-earth is a character in this book, as much as Galadriel or Faramir are). Note that for Frodo, this is the last haven he'll have until the Field of Cormallen- he is about to start his 17 consecutive days in, literally, Hell.

So, even with the frisson of can-we-trust-Boromirs-brother? in the background, nonetheless I think we as well as Frodo find a roof, a fire, a hot meal, wine, a guard of armed men to be a surprising comfort on the edge of the abyss. (There is even a hope, for first-timers, that he's rid of Gollum)

No, I don't mind Faramir taking Gandalf's role as Captain Loredump- I perhaps could wish that T were somehow slightly more artful about it - but almost nothing about the following Book V would have as much impact if we didn't know who the Gondorians were, their significance, their grief, their decay. And their nobility- manifest above all in Faramir.

The camera need NOT always be in kinetic motion. Nor do conflicts have to be overt.


(This post was edited by Solicitr on Dec 3 2019, 3:30am)


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Dec 3 2019, 2:09pm

Post #3 of 49 (2001 views)
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Literature's coolest hideout? [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for doing this one, demnation!

I'm not sure if anyone in literature has a cooler hideout than Faramir. Maybe it's not surprising. Tolkien seems to like to make his Captain of Men characters leaders of resistance/commando/outlaw/scout bands. (He does it for Beren and Turin as well as Faramir. And Tolkien also seems to love writing secret places, often underground ones, and especially ones with defensive features. So two parts of his imagination can get to work in this chapter.

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


uncle Iorlas
Neirol


Dec 3 2019, 9:18pm

Post #4 of 49 (1974 views)
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last things first [In reply to] Can't Post

Not to ignore the other questions, this is a great favorite chapter of mine as well, and it lives in my memory mostly distilled into its nearly-final moment, when Frodo, on the edge of exhaustion, guilelessly confesses his full mission and his own hopelessness in it. We hear so little about Frodo's mind from his own mouth, as the mission wears on, but instead spend more and more time watching him anxiously from Sam's POV. That even Frodo, who's been behaving quite sensibly since Bree, should let down his guard so far speaks eloquently, both to his end-of-rope state of mind, and to the degree to which Faramir has satisfied him that he's fairly safe for a moment.

The last time, as Solicitr says. Hereafter sanctuary gets no better than the odd culvert or fortress full of dead bodies not yet regarrisoned.


N.E. Brigand
Nevle-flah


Dec 4 2019, 12:03am

Post #5 of 49 (1962 views)
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Faramir is the Window on the West. [In reply to] Can't Post

That point was made on these forums long ago and was on my mind last week as I pondered the meaning of "The Mirror of Galadriel" (but didn't have time to post).


Treachery, treachery I fear; treachery of that miserable creature.

But so it must be. Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend.


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Solicitr
NahoR

Dec 4 2019, 2:34am

Post #6 of 49 (1942 views)
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Great point! [In reply to] Can't Post

Faramir is one of Tolkien's great characters. Here perhaps in purer form than with any other Tolkien showed it is too possible to write a completely noble character unironically - and make him interesting and even likeable. And he gives us that 'window' into the Dunedain: the unfulfilled promise which is yet a great promise, and not quite dead- like the line of Telperion.

Certainly a necessary counterpoint to his flawed (and rather pompous) brother and dessicated, cynical father! Faramir -and what he has to say - are why Gondor and the West are worth fighting for.


(This post was edited by Solicitr on Dec 4 2019, 2:44am)


squire
Nevle-flah


Dec 4 2019, 4:47am

Post #7 of 49 (1927 views)
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He's got the view of the Straight Road to the uttermost West [In reply to] Can't Post

If I remember that discussion or one like it, it came out that Faramir is the only Gondorian to actually watch the sun set toward Numenor, and eternal Elvenhome, even if his view is through water and from underground. All the rest of Gondor - symbolically, that is to say Minas Tirith - has its view of the West blocked by the White Mountains, and spends its time addressing the darkness to the East.



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CuriousG
Nevle-flah


Dec 4 2019, 2:39pm

Post #8 of 49 (1876 views)
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If only Denethor and Boromir had been like Faramir [In reply to] Can't Post

 then Minas Tirith would have been an even more appealing place. I remember one of the things that made me like Faramir was his fondness for Gandalf, and I'm sure that won points with the hobbits too.

It's quite refreshing at this point in the story to have someone speak of lofty ideals and a great kingdom. Frodo and Sam have been traveling through wastelands with an unsavory companion, and along comes Prince Charming.

I also like how Faramir is a sort of Gandalf stand-in for comforting Frodo (whom he has just met). That says a lot about his character in even the initial meeting. It also says a lot that Frodo trusts him so quickly and confides his dread to him; it's seems unlikely he would do that to a Boromir-clone.:

Quote
[Frodo]: ‘Will you not put aside your doubt of me and let me go? I am weary, and full of grief, and afraid. But I have a deed to do, or to attempt, before I too am slain. And the more need of haste, if we two halflings are all that remain of our fellowship.

‘Go back, Faramir, valiant Captain of Gondor, and defend your city while you may, and let me go where my doom takes me.’

‘For me there is no comfort in our speech together,’ said Faramir; ‘but you surely draw from it more dread than need be. Unless the people of Lórien themselves came to him, who arrayed Boromir as for a funeral? Not Orcs or servants of the Nameless. Some of your Company, I guess, live still.

I personally think Boromir's funeral boat had some special grace on it so that it survived the Falls of Rauros.

I think Sam totally blew it when he said that Boromir was after Sauron's Ring, but wasn't that a eucatastrophe? It turned out for the best, because Faramir knew they'd been withholding important information, and now he could trust them, and vice versa. And he seemed all the more resolved to help them on their way once he understood them.



(This post was edited by CuriousG on Dec 4 2019, 2:40pm)


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Dec 4 2019, 2:40pm

Post #9 of 49 (1873 views)
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I like that idea too! [In reply to] Can't Post

Pondering Chapter Titles does seem like a thing to do - several of them seem to match their text in more than one way. It's almost as if Tolkien (or his editors) did that on purpose! Wink

Perhaps we should regularly think about and multiple meanings of the chapter titles as this project goes on?

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


uncle Iorlas
Neirol


Dec 4 2019, 7:25pm

Post #10 of 49 (1857 views)
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Chapter titles [In reply to] Can't Post

Any title is an opportunity to squeeze in a drop of content and I'm always disappointed when authors don't bother. Tolkien certainly had some fun with them--Many Meetings, Many Partings, A Long-Expected Party, An Unexpected Party--but I never caught quite such a literary use as to construe Faramir as the window. I like it. I shall be on the watch.


CuriousG
Nevle-flah


Dec 5 2019, 12:31am

Post #11 of 49 (1842 views)
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I have trouble coming up with a long list, but [In reply to] Can't Post

I remember as a good example "A Knife in the Dark," which could mean the bed stabbing in The Prancing Pony, or the Black Riders attacking Crickhollow, or the Black Riders attacking Weathertop, and then it could be the Morgul-knife (most probably) or Frodo drawing his knife/sword in his futile counterattack.

But most others are pretty straightforward: I have trouble reading much into "The Old Forest" beyond that's where it takes place.


sador
Nevle-flah


Dec 5 2019, 3:18pm

Post #12 of 49 (1737 views)
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Were knifes involved in the attack on Crickhollow and the inn? [In reply to] Can't Post

However, you make a good point: I do not think any chapter title (including this one!) in LotR is really open to interpretation: at most, you may have another layer of meaning - as The Shadow of the Past being also the Ring in Hobbiton, Fog on the Barrow-downs referring also to the muddle-headed behavior of the hobbits, and The Siege of Gondor reflecting also the assault on Denethor's mental state - with the apparent inexactness of the title serving as a possible hint. Perhaps Flotsam and Jetsam comes closest to having a layered meaning.
Surprisingly, in The Hobbit there are a couple of examples - and I have led discussion on both of these!
Who is 'Not_at_Home? (towards the end of the post).
A thief_in_the Night (in the middle)


Thinking about things I don't understand


sador
Nevle-flah


Dec 5 2019, 4:14pm

Post #13 of 49 (1733 views)
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Quality is as quality does [In reply to] Can't Post

I always like how Tolkien often introduces new characters with an air of mistrust.
That's a nice observation! However, it seems to be the case mainly with Human characters. Gildor and Glorfindel are not introduced with mistrust. Perhaps Haldir is - but he is not a High-Elf.


There is some ambiguity as the whether Faramir actually saw his brothers body or not. I myself am not fully satisfied with this but I suppose its moot since we as the reader know that Boromir is gone.
If not Boromir, he saw an accurate vision, Galadriel's belt and all. Also, the horn was found.
In the movie, it appears to be quite ambiguous; but in the book - remember the description of the Gondorean legend in The Departure of Boromir; I would guess it was a true vision.


Faramir does consider that duty requires him to present the hobbits to his father, but instantly dismisses it. (in comparison to his film counterpart)
Yes, in the film-version he acted much more logically and lawfully.


We find out a bit about Gandalfs history, his many names and his search for the ring.
And a lot about much else, of course.


What do you like/dislike about this chapter?
I'd rather answer this question last.
As a matter of fact - in CuriousG's discussion on the previous week, I did answer this question last, but in the place he put it; however, I think it would be best for this to be the last question, rather than the first.
I will say, however, that this chapter was named by me as a possible favourite in a previous discussion. Rather than repeat myself, here_is the link.


Frodo and Sam feel that it is likely that they are the last survivors of the company. In what ways do you feel this affects them going forward?
Faramir immediately disabuses them of the notion. And it is curious and in later chapters (especially The Stairs of Cirith Ungol), Frodo thinks of Faramir more than of any of his erstwhile companions.


Was this a good time for Tolkien to do a bit of an info dump about Gondor? and more important reveal quite a bit about Boromir's character?
Well, so far we only had Elrond's account from the Council, and Boromir's. It is time we know what we are about - what it is that makes the Return of the King so important.

As some have commented in previous discussions, Boromir seems more likable and heroic after his death, as we learn what others have thought of him - Eomer, Gandalf, Théoden, Faramir and Denethor (Beregond has a slightly different take). Also Pippin.
I think this is important - and as a matter of fact, I think the creation of Faramir, which came to Tolkien nearly as an afterthought* - both reddemed the character of Boromir, and made Gondor, and by extension all Men of the West, something to admire and wish are saved.
* See Letter 66 (a paragraph I discussed here):

Quote
A new character has come on the scene (I am sure I did not invent him, I did not even want him, though I like him, but there he came walking into the woods of Ithilien): Faramir, the brother of Boromir.




Did Sam really screw up by mentioning the ring?
Yes - unless you accept Faramir's mystical: "Your heart is shrewd as well as faithful, and saw clearer than your eyes".
But that is Faramir's greatness - he successfully disarms the suspicions of Frodo, the reader and finally Sam. And it is done masterfully. If I had the time I might compare Farmir to Galadriel in the chapter we discussed in the last week - and note that both are "rewarded" with a chance to prove their quality!


Is Faramir truly a man of quality?
I would say yes.





By the way - other things I like in this chapter are the stunning scenery (which will be complemented in the beginning of the next chapter), the description of the meal, and comparison of cultures, and also how Gollum is nearly forgotten - but as we will see in the next chapter, not by Faramir.


Thank you, demnation, for this discussion!


Thinking about things I don't understand


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Dec 5 2019, 6:10pm

Post #14 of 49 (1721 views)
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But also a quality interregator? [In reply to] Can't Post

When this chapter came up in the last read through, Darkstone did a great job of persuading me that Faramir might (genunely) be a gentleman, but his actions also work well as a means of interrogation. He gains the hobbits' confidence, and is very willing (perhaps a bit suspiciously willing?) to imagine that blame in any quarrel lay with Boromir. He finishes by feasting the hobbits, including alcohol - the essential role of hospitality in several Middle-earth cultures perhaps, but the food and drink and feeling of being safe is going to hit the hobits hard when they've been doing long marches on short rations in hostile country. I think that might all contribute to Sam's indiscretion, revealing what it is that Frodo carries. .

But in the end, I think the point is that Faramir does the right thing whether he got there by interrogator's wiles or superior gentlemanliness (or both of them at once).

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


Solicitr
NahoR

Dec 5 2019, 7:46pm

Post #15 of 49 (1714 views)
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Subject [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Faramir does consider that duty requires him to present the hobbits to his father, but instantly dismisses it. (in comparison to his film counterpart)

In Reply To
Yes, in the film-version he acted much more logically and lawfully.



Until he gets to Osgiliath, where he goes utterly insane.

Also, while having his men beat Gollum to a pulp might arguably have been logical, it was hardly lawful.


(This post was edited by Solicitr on Dec 5 2019, 7:47pm)


InTheChair
Neirol

Dec 5 2019, 9:18pm

Post #16 of 49 (1697 views)
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Boats and horns alike are bent on bringing news to near kin, and streams and currents be damned [In reply to] Can't Post

There is something about English that I do not fully know. The Anduin is a great river, but this chapter includes passages like, I rose and went down to the bank, and began to walk out in the stream. Maybe the word stream can be used to describe the shores of a river? Explaining also why Faramir could simply walk along the bottom. Although later, The boat turned into the stream and passed glimmering into the night, so perhaps stream refers to the current in the middle of the river? Still there is a bit of dream quality over the whole experience, so I am willing to accept whatever the meaning.

Noted upon re-reading that Boromirs corps seems to be fully or partially submerged in water in the boat. I had forgotten this.


There's a nice throwback to the chapter Lothlorien, where Boromir said, few come out who once goes in, and of that few none have escaped unscathed. To which Aragorn replies, Say not unscathed, but if you say unchanged, then maybe you will speak the truth.

Faramir on his first try say, few of old came thence unchanged, tis said.

Tolkien is not holding back the hints. Assuming one can remember as far back as Lothlorien.


Read only half the chapter today. Will read the rest tomorrow.


(This post was edited by InTheChair on Dec 5 2019, 9:19pm)


Otaku-sempai
Latrommi


Dec 5 2019, 9:54pm

Post #17 of 49 (1692 views)
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Streams [In reply to] Can't Post

Stream can refer to a (small) river as a whole, or it can mean the water of the river. In the one passage we can assume that the river was shallow enough near the bank in that part of it to allow one to walk into the stream. Turning into the stream would indeed be turning into the current.

#FidelityToTolkien


sparrowruth
Llednevir


Dec 6 2019, 4:28pm

Post #18 of 49 (1592 views)
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mods up // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Dec 6 2019, 6:16pm

Post #19 of 49 (1583 views)
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Thanks! *bows modestly* // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


noWizardme
Nevle-flah


Dec 6 2019, 6:23pm

Post #20 of 49 (1587 views)
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Thinking about Sam in contrast to Frodo [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm thinking it's 'being guided by your heart' versus 'being guided by your head'.

Frodo tries to save the situation by using his wits, but Sam becomes so indignant on Frodo's behalf that he scolds Faramir (to the amusement of Faramir's men). Later he becomes so unguarded that he blurts about the Ring. And that turns out to work well. So heart 1: head 0

Maybe the next chapter reverses that - Sam is all for the wrong choice of letting the Men shoot Gollum.

But we probably ought not to discuss Forbidden Pool much now - surely it is someone's favourite chater , and they will shortly put it in the queue.... Angelic

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


InTheChair
Neirol

Dec 6 2019, 7:53pm

Post #21 of 49 (1588 views)
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Isildurs bane [In reply to] Can't Post

I wonder how much Faramir already guessed before Sam spilled the beans.

He even mentions to Frodo his knowledge of legends that Isildur took something from Saurons hand, and his guess that this was what lay between Frodo and Boromir. And later when Sam is careless, he knows immidiately what the enemys ring is, so he obviously had knowledge of it, but if he made the right guess before he kept it to himself.


N.E. Brigand
Nevle-flah


Dec 7 2019, 5:09am

Post #22 of 49 (1541 views)
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"The Departure of Boromir": an echo of "The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth"? // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Treachery, treachery I fear; treachery of that miserable creature.

But so it must be. Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend.


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<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
Discuss Tolkien's life and works in the Reading Room!
+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=
How to find old Reading Room discussions.


Roverandom
Eerb


Dec 7 2019, 2:25pm

Post #23 of 49 (1482 views)
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The White Sheep of the Family [In reply to] Can't Post

This is a wonderful chapter, demnation. Good observations and good questions!

What do I like about this chapter? In a word, Faramir!

Faramir, despite the author's claim of not seeing him coming, seems to be exactly the right person at the right time in the plot. He reminds Sam of Gandalf, but he reminds me of Sam (or perhaps Merry), just as noble but more approachable than the other "greats" of the story, like post-Strider Aragorn and even Frodo. He is most definitely a man of quality, all the more remarkable when considering the characters in his immediate family. The forum engaged in some "What if?" reveries a while back concerning Saruman, but just imagine if Boromir hadn't gotten his way (for once), and Denethor sent Faramir to Imladris instead. The Compleat Man dead in the attack at Parth Galen and Boromir in the cave of Henneth Annun with a host of men at his call. *shudder*

Other than Faramir himself, what I most like about this chapter is the beauty of the place: the falls at sunset and at moonset, the rocks and the forest, and the overall claustrophobic feeling, which is all the same comforting.

A last point about Faramir: I wonder if the scheduled timing of your discussion, the week after The Mirror of Galadriel, was another of those "chance meetings", as we say in Middle-Earth. Here we have yet another opportunity for someone of obvious power and a certain mastery to take the Ring, but one who, like Galadriel, passes the test. "But I am not such a man," he says, surely thinking of his brother in the same place. "Or I am wise enough to know that there are some perils from which a man must flee."

He must get it from his mother!Wink

For just as there has always been a Richard Webster, so too has there been a Black Scout of the North to greet him at the door on the threshold of the evening and to guard him through his darkest dreams.


CuriousG
Nevle-flah


Dec 7 2019, 3:57pm

Post #24 of 49 (1466 views)
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Excellent: [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Faramir, despite the author's claim of not seeing him coming, seems to be exactly the right person at the right time in the plot.

I've always felt the same way about Faramir and was surprised Tolkien didn't see him coming all along. He sure fits into the story perfectly and plays several roles at once.


uncle Iorlas
Neirol


Dec 7 2019, 4:34pm

Post #25 of 49 (1463 views)
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I've often paused over this. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I wonder how much Faramir already guessed before Sam spilled the beans.

He even mentions to Frodo his knowledge of legends that Isildur took something from Saurons hand, and his guess that this was what lay between Frodo and Boromir. And later when Sam is careless, he knows immidiately what the enemys ring is, so he obviously had knowledge of it, but if he made the right guess before he kept it to himself.


It hardly seems like he could be this close without having pinned it down. What else would his guess be? But then he seems surprised when he finally does hear it outright.

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