Welcome to the second stage of The Lord of the Rings read-along, hosted by Stephanie from Chasm of Books and here at Pages Unbound. This is the last discussion post for The Two Towers; in March, Briana will be leading the discussions for The Return of the King. Even if you have not officially signed-up, feel free to join in the fun! We ask that in this post you reference only events that have occurred up to the end of The Two Towers, so as to avoid spoiling any first-time readers. I have a series of questions to get us started, but if you have any other topics you would like to discuss, please raise them in the comments!
1) Frodo consistently spares the life of Gollum, not only because he thinks Gandalf would wish it so, but also from a sense of pity. Do you agree with Frodo’s mercy? Do you think Gollum can still be saved? Do you think that Frodo’s kindness really is a type of blindness? Or do you think that Gollum’s treachery could have been avoided if others, such as Sam, had treated him with more kindness?
2) Throughout The Lord of the Rings we have seen the power of names. Faramir will not name Sauron or his land. Sauron, for his part, does not allow his name to be spoken or written. Wormtongue renames Gandalf “Lathspell” or “Ill-news,” perhaps in an attempt to poison the king against him, while Frodo calls Gollum “Sméagol” in attempt to recall his better nature. Why do you think some of the characters refuse to name Sauron and his works? By doing so, are they, as Albus Dumbledore might say, increasing fear of the thing itself? Or is fear sometimes a wise and positive thing? What are some of your favorite names in The Lord of the Rings? Do you find that they, like the names of the Ents, often tell us something about the characters who bear them?
3) In Book IV of The Two Towers we meet Faramir, Captain of Gondor and Boromir’s younger brother. Though he clearly loves Boromir, Faramir also offers some criticism, implying that his brother, like Gondor, valued military prowess more than the arts of peace. How does Faramir’s attitude toward war and glory help him to resist the temptation of the Ring? Were you surprised that Faramir was able to pass a test his brother could not? And do you think Faramir judged wisely in allowing Frodo to continue his journey with Gollum as guide?
4) Throughout The Lord of the Rings the characters face difficult decisions. Aragorn fears to choose wrongly when deciding whether to follow Frodo or to rescue Merry and Pippin. Sam hesitates to leave his master in order to take the Ring to the fire. Gimli thinks there may be no right choice. Do you share Gimli’s pessimism or do you think, along with Elrond, that a divine providence seems to be guiding the fate of the Fellowship? Do you sense such a providence even though The Lord of the Rings has made no explicit references to any deities or gods?
5) Sam puts on the Ring seemingly without being tempted by its offer of power. Were you surprised? Why do you think the corruptive influence of the Ring seems not to have started working on Sam? Do you think that Sam can continue to bear the Ring without succumbing to it?
6) What are you favorite moments in The Lord of the Rings so far? Who are your favorite characters?