Literature Study GuidesThe Lord Of The RingsThe Two Towers Book 3 Chapter 11 Summary

The Lord of the Rings | Study Guide

J.R.R. Tolkien

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The Lord of the Rings | The Two Towers (Book 3, Chapter 11) : The Palantír | Summary

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Summary

Later that night, Pippin becomes restless, thinking about the round object he had briefly held. Letting his curiosity get the better of him, he sneaks the object away from Gandalf, and looks into it. But as he does, a fiery glow emanates from the ball, and suddenly Pippin collapses with a cry. Gandalf wakes and begins to question Pippin, asking what he saw and what happened. Pippin reports he saw towers and nine winged creatures, and a voice asked him who he was. Pippin had answered, "a hobbit."

Gandalf is relieved after talking to Pippin, saying the hobbit had come out of the encounter without being corrupted. Gandalf then decides to give the ball to Aragorn for safekeeping, and kneels as he hands it over. Aragorn accepts this responsibility because the object is a palantír that once belonged to Elendil.

Gandalf decides Pippin will accompany him to Minas Tirith. The two ride to Gondor on Shadowfax, and Gandalf tells Pippin the palantír is one of seven seeing stones that came with the Men of Westernesse and were used in the past to communicate between different locations. Now, however, they seem to be controlled by Sauron. Gandalf deduces that Saruman was corrupted because he used the very one Pippin had his hands on. It is clear the finding of the palantír is a game-changer, with the benefit of causing Sauron to act hastily, thinking he can now easily take the Ring from the hobbit (he incorrectly assumes Pippin has the ring). However, this means war with Sauron is on its way.

Analysis

Pippin's curiosity about the palantír brings out uncharacteristic behavior in him. He becomes argumentative, critical, and sneaky. His odd behavior seems to, at least in part, be caused by the influence of the stone itself—or perhaps caused by Sauron's use of the stone for his own ends: "Driven by some impulse that he did not understand, Pippin walked softly to where Gandalf lay." Gandalf is concerned that Pippin's encounter with Sauron will have a lasting effect on him, and looks into his eyes to discern whether the evil did permanent damage. All of this suggests there can be a lasting danger in the smallest act of pride or deception, just as small acts of pity and mercy can have a lasting positive effect.

This chapter suggests events being influenced by an outside force, such as fate, fortune, or providence. Gandalf tells Pippin he was saved "by good fortune, as it is called." And Aragorn takes the palantír saying, "my hour draws near," as if he has some destiny toward which he is headed. In addition, Gandalf admits that Pippin's foolishness may have prevented Gandalf from making the mistake of revealing himself to Sauron by looking in the palantír himself.

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