“‘I marvel at the creature: so secret and so sly as he is, to come sporting in the pool before our very window. Does he think that men sleep without watch all night? Why does he think so?'”
Book IV
Chapter 6
The Forbidden Pool

Frodo is woken early by Faramir (and Sam joins them) to come inspect a black creature darting around in the forbidden pool, below. And so one of my questions–what of Gollum?–is quickly answered–at least, for the short-term.

Frodo goes about rescuing Gollum, of all things, and he comes. That Gollum should refer to Sam as “the cross rude hobbit” was amusing. I don’t know why the “treachery” Frodo used to save him and the rough handling of Smeagol should rub me the wrong way, but I felt like Smeagol, vile as he is, was justified in being angry. And Tolkien displays him incredibly.

For example: “We are lost, lost. No name, no business, no Precious, nothing. Only empty. Only hungry: yes we are hungry. A few little fishes, nasty bony little fishes, for a poor creature, and they say death. So wise they are; so just, so very just.” When Gollum says that, I felt real pity for him. It shows that he’s quite intelligent. He’s cleverly trying to escape with his life, relying on the pity of his captors. But even though he can say how miserable he is, I can’t help but wonder if he is really aware of his own misery more than an animal is. How self-reflective is he? And that makes me pity him more, but not in the way Gollum was trying manipulate Faramir into pitying him. I’m having a hard time describing how that passage made me feel and think, but suffice it to say that Gollum is just such a sad, wretched, being, in spite of his evil nature. Part of me wants him to die, to be put out of his misery, but there’s still a part of me that wishes he could be cured, or redeemed. And again, Tolkien’s handling of Gollum is brilliant.

The chapter ends with a stern warning from Faramir. Don’t trust Smeagol, and whatever you do, don’t go to Cirith Ungol! But, as Frodo points out, what other choice is there?

It’s interesting that Gollum’s fate is so tied up with the Ring. I mean, sure, it makes some sense given how long he possessed it. But, if that’s why he is so drawn to it, if that’s why he is fated to help Frodo destroy it, then why isn’t Bilbo more involved? And, for that matter, when will the “pity of Bilbo” decide the fate of many (or whatever Gandalf’s warning to Frodo was)?

As the story goes I see now how it’s good that Gollum is still around to help guide Frodo, but I say again that if Bilbo had just killed Gollum outright there would be no need for Gollum now to help (and no, you don’t need to remind me of what Gandalf said to Frodo when he wished Bilbo had killed him). In the end, I know, there’s no arguing with Fate (or should I say, Tolkien?).

Finally, a bit nit-picky and a change of subject, but I was looking at the map at the front of the book and it makes little sense to me that Minas Morgul isn’t become Sauron’s main gate into Mordor. It’s just over the river from Minas Tirith, so if he focused his force and power there, it would be to his advantage. After all, Men fear it completely, already.

Morannon opens only upon the Dagorlad which is itself totally abandoned and empty. Why does Sauron focus his attention there where an attack seems much less likely? The maps in the book aren’t by Tolkien, did he ever draw maps of Middle-earth? If so, why aren’t they included?

till next time,

keep thinking,


Kanazawa, Japan