Literature Study GuidesThe Lord Of The RingsThe Fellowship Of The Ring Book 1 Chapter 5 Summary

The Lord of the Rings | Study Guide

J.R.R. Tolkien

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The Lord of the Rings | The Fellowship of the Ring (Book 1, Chapter 5) : A Conspiracy Unmasked | Summary



Merry, Frodo, Sam, and Pippin board the Bucklebury Ferry and cross the Brandywine River. They can see Brandy Hall, ancestral home of the Brandybucks, on the opposite bank. Arriving in Buckland, they alight and, looking back across the river, see a dark figure crawling along the bank. Merry can see the others are worried, but he doesn't know why. They promise to fill him in over supper.

They all go to Frodo's new house, which Fredegar (Fatty) and Merry have prepared—complete with steaming hot water for baths. Frodo, Pippin, and Sam bathe, then settle down to a (second) supper. They bring their friends up to date on their adventures with the Black Riders, and Frodo decides he needs to reveal his own plan to leave the Shire. But when he hesitates, Merry reveals that they already know everything, and he and Pippin have decided to accompany Sam and Frodo. Sam is revealed as the informant. Fatty's part of the scheme will be to stay behind to keep up the appearance of Frodo's residence in Buckland. They plan to leave first thing in the morning.


In this chapter, Merry has joined the other hobbits and the four cross the Brandywine River. For Sam, the crossing carries great significance: "Sam was the only member of the party who had not been over the river before. He had a strange feeling as the slow gurgling stream slipped by: his old life lay behind in the mists, dark adventure lay in front." Though Sam feels this moment more intensely, it is a milestone for the quest.

Though they are being pursued by Black Riders and (as it turns out) all five of the hobbits are aware of Frodo's quest, in true hobbit fashion, they take great joy in simple pleasures: a hot bath, a comfortable fire, food, and drink. It is in this comfortable context that the conspirators reveal their knowledge. They convince Frodo to trust them despite their spying ways, developing the theme of friendship as Merry responds to Frodo's doubts by saying, "You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin—to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours—closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo."

As the chapter comes to a close, Frodo has a dream, the first of several visionary dreams. In this one, he hears and smells the sea, and sees "a tall white tower, standing alone on a high ridge" from which, if he could climb it, he could look out over the sea. This is one of the Towers on Emyn Beraid built by Gil-galad for Elendil during the Second Age. Presumably, Frodo, as Ring-bearer, is having dreams related to the history of the One Ring, of which he has become a part.

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