Literature Study GuidesThe Lord Of The RingsThe Return Of The King Book 6 Chapter 7 Summary

The Lord of the Rings | Study Guide

J.R.R. Tolkien

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The Lord of the Rings | The Return of the King (Book 6, Chapter 7) : Homeward Bound | Summary

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Summary

The four hobbits, accompanied by Gandalf, travel to Bree. They notice things don't seem quite right in Bree, and when they stop at The Prancing Pony, they find out from Barliman Butterbur that "outsiders" have come to Bree and there has been fighting—even some deaths. Gandalf assures Butterbur the new king will take care of all the troubles. Sam reveals this new king is Strider!

As they leave Bree, the hobbits part ways with Gandalf who intends to visit Tom Bombadil. The hobbits worry about what they will find in the Shire, and Gandalf isn't very reassuring. But he does tell the hobbits that whatever they find, they will be able to handle it.

Analysis

Given Arwen's gift of passage to the West, the conversation between Frodo and Gandalf in this chapter takes on great meaning. Gandalf says, "there are some wounds that cannot be wholly cured." Frodo agrees, saying, "There is no real going back. Though I may come to the Shire, it will not seem the same; for I shall not be the same." According to a letter to Mrs. Eileen Elgar, dated September, 1963, Frodo's feelings here are a "temptation out of the Dark, a last flicker of pride: desire to have returned as a 'hero,' not content with being a mere instrument of good." This suggests a soldier may come back from war so wounded in body and so plagued with feelings of failure, he is forever broken. Yet his sacrifice was made for the good of the home he loves.

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