Literature Study GuidesThe Lord Of The RingsThe Fellowship Of The Ring Book 2 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 2, Chapter 5) : The Bridge of Khazad-Dûm | Summary

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Summary

The Fellowship stands in silence at Balin's tomb, and then Gandalf finds a record book describing a terrible battle ending in the slaughter of the Dwarves living in the mines. "Drums, drums in the deep," reads the record book.

As they consider the meaning of the writing, they hear a "doom, doom" coming from the mines: drums in the deep. Soon, Orcs appear, and with them, a cave-troll. The Fellowship defend themselves, and in the ensuing battle, Frodo is struck by an Orc-chieftain's spear, collapsing as though dead. He surprises the others by speaking. Gandalf tries to hold off the enemy forces with magic, but a powerful magic of unknown source resists him. They all flee, making for the gates leading out of Moria. They come to a deep chasm crossed by a narrow bridge, which is the Bridge of Khazad-dûm.

At the chasm, Gandalf faces a Balrog—a fearsome creature made seemingly of flame. Realizing the Balrog is a powerful enemy, Gandalf tells the others to flee, and faces the Balrog alone, saying, "You cannot pass." Gandalf's magic breaks the bridge, and the Balrog falls into the chasm, but at the last minute the Balrog grasps Gandalf and causes him to fall as well. Weeping and stumbling, the remaining members of the Fellowship escape Moria and enter again into the sunlight.

Analysis

Confronting the Balrog, Gandalf says, "I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor ... The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow!" This statement needs some unpacking. Udûn is a stronghold of Morgoth, who is equivalent to Satan in the mythos of The Lord of the Rings. The Secret Fire, in contrast, is the part of Eru Ilúvatar (equivalent to God in Tolkien's mythos from The Book of Lost Tales, Part 1 of The History of Middle-earth) that created all things; Tolkien himself explained that the Secret Fire was his way of talking about the Holy Spirit. Anor is an Elvish term for the Sun. So, Gandalf is saying something akin to, "I am a servant of God and wield the light of the Sun. Go back to Hell, demon."

This chapter is a major turning point for the Fellowship, and for Aragorn who must step into the role left vacant by Gandalf.

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