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Old 09-23-2018, 05:22 AM   #41
Formendacil
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1420!

"Flotsam and Jetsam" this time around, reminded me especially of "The Last Debate," where Gimli and Legolas tell Merry and Pippin of their offscreen adventures with Aragorn, reversing the situation here, where Merry and Pippin tell the three hunters what befell them offscreen. In each case, we (the readers) got to see part of the story--"The Uruk-hai" and "Treebeard" here vs. "The Passing of the Grey Company" later--but the conclusion of that plot is left to be told after its conclusion, once it has saved the day in the other plot that we are following. Actually, by that reckoning, telling of the end of the battle at the Black Gates in "The Field of Cormallen" fits the pattern a bit too.

Because of who is involved, however, "Flotsam and Jetsam" is a direct parallel with "The Last Debate," and the chief difference, namely that Aragorn is absent from the second one being kingly, is a significant one that tells of his growth in the interim. In the earlier chapter, he could still withdraw from the great events of the moment--not just because he "belongs both to Gondor and the North," but because, having not declared himself to Sauron yet, he still hasn't quite engaged upon his inheritance.

This is a fun chapter, even if it is tucked away between great action and revelations--we already know or can guess what the Ents have been up to, after all. I seldom get as hungry reading Tolkien as during the description of their relatively simple meal. This chapter showcases the personality of these five members of the Fellowship more than most and serves as a welcome lighter moment in the tale. Not "comic relief" (jokes engineered in the middle of an intense sequence for the audience's benefit), but something truer to nature, which generally does ebb and flow in intensity. There are quiet moments of food and friendship between the great challenges or sorrows of our lives.

And, thinking a bit more about the mode of storytelling... by giving us these "look back" chapters, Tolkien gets to exercise his versatility aas a narrator. Someone, Nilp maybe, was talking in the previous chapter thread about how Tolkien uses omniscient narration rather than third person limited. Well, going off that, I think it should be pointed out that he also uses first person narrators--within the larger text, yes, but for substantial portions and not-insignificant moments.
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