A Tolkien Virgin: Of the Beginning of Days - The Journey Continues
"I am amazed by Tulkas. Earlier, it was established that Melkor was the most powerful of the Ainur. And although Manwe is supposed to be only slightly less powerful, even with the help of the other Valar, he is unable to defeat Melkor and put an end to his ruinous endeavors. What happens, then? Here comes Tulkas to the rescue. His anger is so great, and he is so strong, that when he takes the scene Melkor flees, forsaking Arda for "a long age." Now, that's amazing. It makes me wonder why Manwe is the ruler of the Valar...oh yeah, he's the most noble.
"Of the Beginning of Days," establishes (or recaps in certain instances) some interesting events in the history of the Valar without going into much detail: the coming of Tulkas and the fleeing of Melkor, the creation and destruction of the two Lamps, the Valar's move from middle-earth to Valinor, the birth of the two trees, and finally, somewhat of a diversion from the rest of the section, the distinction between Elves and Men. The trees are particularly interesting because the keeping of time begins when they have grown. The trees shine giving light to Valinor. Telperion is like the moon with it's silver light, and Laurelin is like the sun with it's golden light. The question I have for you, is why lamps and trees? What is the significance of Tolkien not including the sun and the moon proper to give light to middle earth? Is it merely part of the fantasy of it all, or is there a deeper meaning that escapes me?
Also, the distinction between Elves and Men is a bizzare one. Why does Illuvatar (or Tolkien for that matter) create different races? The Elves get more beauty and bliss and don't die of natural causes (even when they do die, they only go to the halls of Mandos--which seems more like teleportation than death), whereas Men grow old and die but get more freedom--whatever that means. It's also interesting that Tolkien calls death a gift reserved for men. Is there a message there for us in Tolkien's writings? Is death a gift that has been clouded? That would be a risky presumption, I would think. Whatever the case, for the time being the point of their being different races that don't understand each other isn't very clear. I suppose any good story requires conflict, and this is Tolkien's way of ensuring it."