Sam as Mother: The Return of the King
I haven’t been posting regularly about the BBC book list, but I finally got to The Return of the King (1955) by J. R. R. Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings series is number 2 on the BBC list. And as many of you know, at least those of you who have followed my blog for a while, I don’t really enjoy the LOTR trilogy. I didn’t like the movies much when they came out, but I suffered through them for my husband’s sake, and I didn’t have any interest in reading the books. However, because I would like to read all of the books on the BBC book list, I read them anyway.
This book was probably my favorite of the three. Obviously, it has a resolution, which is always nice, but I found myself proud of Sam. I see him as the “real” hero of these narratives. We tend to focus on Frodo, who is great too, but Sam is sort of an underdog in the hero department, yet he shows uncommon strength and loyalty in this book.
In some of the passages describing his support of Frodo, Sam is described in motherly terms. He cradles Frodo in his arms and nurses him through some injuries. He is the unseen force for good behind Frodo’s heroic deed of getting rid of the ring. Because of this imagery of a mother and child, I can see echoes of the sacrifices that ordinary mothers make for their children all of the time. Sam, although male and a Hobbit, may be a metaphor for motherly love and sacrifice.
I also liked this book because of the fuller picture we get of The Shire in the end. Yes, there are problems there, but I always regretted Frodo’s leaving The Shire with the others in the first place because I wanted to spend more time there as a reader. It seems like such a nice little place, and it was wish fulfillment for me to hear more about it, even if the narrative was still conflicted. The fact that The Shire suffered after Frodo’s absence reminded me of how certain people make home feel like home.
My husband is gone all of the time right now. He’s a certified public accountant, and that means that he spends some 80 hours a week doing taxes. We see him for breakfast, and then he leaves again, not to return until the rest of us are sleeping. A few days ago, my little Daphne began crying, and then explained, “I miss my Daddy!” We called him and that cheered her up, but home doesn’t feel like home without him around.
Anyway, the LOTR series is not my favorite, and I won’t be reading these books again, but I feel as though I’ve accomplished something by having done so. Now I can say that I read them!