Literature Study GuidesThe Lord Of The RingsThe Fellowship Of The Ring Book 2 Chapter 9 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 9) : The Great River | Summary

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Summary

Led by Aragorn, who sets a brisk pace, the Fellowship paddles down the Anduin River. As the days go by, an uneasy feeling grows in them, and a few worrying developments occur: Boromir begins muttering to himself and behaving strangely, and Sam sees a log with eyes that "floats" behind them. When Sam tells Frodo about the strange sight, the two agree it is likely Gollum. Later, they find out Aragorn has been aware Gollum has been following them since Moria.

As they near the rapids of Sarn Gebir, they are attacked by Orcs firing arrows at them, and they see a black winged figure pass overhead. Legolas fires an arrow at it, and it screams as it falls from the sky.

Aragorn decides they will head for Amon Hen, where the kings of old built a "high seat." He hopes his choice will be made clearer there. They pass through Argonath, the Pillars of the Kings, giant statues carved into pillars set on either side of the river, representing Isildur and Anárion. They finally set foot on dry ground and must finally choose which way to go next.

Analysis

Speeding along the Anduin River, the Company comes ever closer to the moment they must make a decision. Both their own efforts with the paddle and the current of the river propel them forward, reflecting the way individual effort and the sweeping currents of both time and providence give the quest its forward motion. As Aragorn remarks, "Time flows on to a spring of little hope."

This chapter also touches upon the lineage of Aragorn, Isildur's heir, as it describes the tall statues of Isildur and Anárion, the sons of Elendil, and the way Aragorn desires to reach the "high seat upon Amon Hen, that were made in the days of the great kings," before making his decision. Beneath the imposing statues, Aragorn's true nature is revealed: "a king returning from exile to his own land." Boromir shows conflicting actions in this chapter—both showing an uncomfortable interest any time the conversation approaches the topic of the Ring, and obviously feeling more a part of the Company than before, as he helps to avoid disaster in the rapids. This conflict is a reflection of Boromir's conflict within, and will continue to grow as the journey continues.

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