“Sam gasped and gathered all his remaining breath to shout. ‘Look out behind!’ he yelled. ‘Look out, master! I’m’–but suddenly his cry was stifled…”
Book IV
Chapter 9
Shelob’s Lair

Woah! Okay, now that was unexpected. And geez, if you’ve been following my articles you know I’ve been rooting for Gollum, in hopes of redemption (though I can’t say why I pity him in that way), so you can guess that I’m pretty disappointed. After everything, this turns out to be his grand scheme: lead our hobbits to their deaths and retrieve the ring? But, at what point did he make that decision? Certainly not from when he was first captured, since he didn’t know that they needed a way into Mordor… or did he? Is Gollum really that clever?

On another note, the events of this chapter, Gollum’s treachery, kind of puts the last chapter…and previous chapters in a clearer light. So, maybe Gollum was having second thoughts when he saw Frodo, his kind master, sleeping the night before–then Sam woke up, called him a sneak, and ruined any chance Gollum would have a change of heart. Though I’ll say that there was probably as much actual likelyhood of Gollum growing a conscience as there was likelyhood that Saruman would actually come down at the end of the last book, and leave it at that.

Furthermore, the “she” that Gollum refered to during the Slinker/Stinker conversation that Sam overheard, the very reference I had completely forgotten, is also clarified. Shelob. Child of Ungoliant; older than Sauron.

Tolkien surely loves his dreadful spiders. Though they may not be in every book he wrote on Middle-earth, he’s got them in the Silmarillion, Hobbit, and now in book IV of the Lord of the Rings (am I forgetting other memorable spider moments?). But, it is an effective image; the thought of such a large spider is pretty terrifying.

With that in mind, I was awed by Frodo’s unexpected courage. His advance on Shelob was one of the most skin-tingly moments, one of the most legendary moments of courage to date. After all his moaning and feeling like giving up, here in his darkest of dark moments he finds courage to stand up against, and attack (with light) a horror such as Shelob. Maybe there’s hope for Frodo after all…or maybe not.

“oh no.” “oh no.” I thought to myself as Frodo made his mad dash toward the pass and I read the two lines: “Too little did [Sam] or his master know of the craft of Shelob. She had many exits from her lair.” What a sinking feeling in my stomach as I read that. And for Gollum to attack and distract Sam at the moment Frodo needed him the most was supremely frustrating–though, I might add that Sam’s escape from Gollum’s grasp was also a legendary feat.

As the chapter closes, not good tidings: “He was too late.” Not good tidings, at all.

till next time,

keep thinking,

Kanazawa, Japan