Book IV
Chapter 5
The Window on the West

“But it was at the coming of the Halfling that Isildur’s Bane should waken, or so one must read the words,” he insisted. “If then you are the Halfling that was named, doubtless you brought this thing, whatever it may be, to the Council of which you speak, and there Boromir saw it. Do you deny it?”
As the chapter opens, we have the trial of Frodo by Faramir–somehow not surprisingly the brother of Boromir. He spends some perilous moments out in the open judging what is best to do with Frodo and Sam. Faramir learns much from Frodo, and Frodo learns of Boromir’s death. What a perfect vision, although real, of Boromir’s passing. Solemn and awesome, the boat near filled with luminescent water and Boromir enshrined within, his sin atoned for. Really a great scene.

At length, Faramir is convinced that Frodo speaks truth and decides to take him to his secret hideout/stronghold. He explains along the way all he discerned that Frodo had not said. Indeed Boromir and Frodo had parted with Isildur’s Bane come between them.

For me, I have at long last put together 2 and 2. Please forgive my mental slowness. If Aragorn is to be the long lost King of Gondor, Boromir would have been displaced by him and that would have been exceptionally bitter for Boromir. It seems his death, though a loss, was also a boon if he would have caused trouble for Aragorn on his return to Minas Tirith. I’m beginning to feel like I’ve missed a lot on this first read and forgotten a lot from earlier chapters, too.

It’s interesting to see Faramir’s reaction to the fall of Gandalf. Frodo was whole-heartedly convinced at this point that he was indeed, dead. And he proceeds to pass on this misinformation. In fact, he’s not even Gandalf the Grey anymore–he’s the White Rider, now. So, in a sense, Gandalf the Grey did die in Moria. I like Faramir’s description of Gandalf as “a great mover of deeds that are done in our time.” It’s a fittingly grandiose title.

And I’m glad I read the Silmarillion first (minus Of the Third Age), because certain references (although fewer than I’d hoped) are clearer and bring deeper meaning to the present story. A perfect example is Faramir’s passing reference to the White Tree–it brings alive the long broken history from the beginnings of time through the fall of Númenor and into Middle-earth.

One even more passing reference of Tolkien’s jumped out at me: Frodo thinks of Faramir as a “grave young man.” And you know what I hadn’t been thinking about is that Frodo is much older than Faramir. Due to Frodo and Sam’s place in the world as hobbits not used to great deeds and affairs outside the Shire, they really do come across as children a lot of the times… I have to keep in mind that they really are older (even if they mature more slowly). Sam should’ve told Faramir, “you’d better watch your mouth when you speak to your elders!” earlier, instead of sitting down with a red face at Faramir’s reproach!

And as they walk along, Faramir’s men advancing through the shadows stealthfully, who should Sam spy: Gollum. They can’t be rid of him that easily.

Their blinded-folded journey, ending with a breath-taking view of the setting sun through the fine clear flow of water before them, is followed by their entrance into the secret refuge to spend the night. And what do you know–another “safe-haven.” Every so often, our protagonists seem to find their way to a safe place where they can rest and rejuvenate: Rivendell, Lothlorien, and now this place.

In the end, Sam makes yet another blunder, spilling the beans about the Ring, and Faramir puts it all together. And let me tell you, I got all kinds of ominous tingles, thinking for certain Faramir would follow in his brother’s footsteps, from the look of his initial reaction. Good heavens, even if only for a few sentences, I was pretty freaked out there for a minute!

And at the chapter’s close, I have a few questions. Will Faramir be able to aid Frodo and Sam? What of Gollum? (a recurring question!) How will they get into Mordor? And finally, what significance is Sam’s comment that Faramir reminds him of Gandalf?

till next time,

keep thinking,

Kanazawa, Japan