Literature Study GuidesThe Lord Of The RingsThe Two Towers Book 4 Chapter 3 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 4, Chapter 3) : The Black Gate Is Closed | Summary

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Summary

Frodo, Sam, and Gollum arrive at the Black Gate of Mordor, the main entrance to Mordor, which is heavily guarded. They sit and try to figure out how to get through, and then Frodo decides to just march straight for it, thinking this is his only option. Gollum stops him, saying it is crazy to go toward the Black Gate—they'll certainly be caught and the Ring taken. Gollum suggests going by a different way, a secret way.

Suddenly, the Black Gate opens and a large number of soldiers pass into Mordor—Men who have come to help Sauron wage war.

Gollum continues to try to convince Frodo to follow him to this secret pass. He notes Sauron's attention is focused on the Black Gate, so he won't notice a couple of hobbits sneaking in a back way. Frodo wonders if the secret way is guarded, and Gollum hesitates a little. Although he claims he escaped that way from Mordor, it is clear he was allowed to escape. And although neither hobbit fully trusts Gollum, they decide going along with his plan is their only real option.

Analysis

Frodo is resolute at the Black Gate, and fully intends to approach it, because it is the only way he knows to enter Mordor. The reader, however, may tend to agree with Gollum that going straight up to the front door of Mordor would be as good as handing over the Ring to Sauron. And if Frodo is determined, Sam is just as determined to follow him. As readers become privy to Sam's thoughts, the idea of going on with or without hope, previously articulated by Elrond and Aragorn, takes on a hobbit-like spin: "And after all he never had any real hope in the affair from the beginning; but being a cheerful hobbit he had not needed hope, as long as despair could be postponed." While Elrond and Aragorn have said basically the same thing, they spoke more grimly. Sam's version reflects his tendency to cheerfully accept his duty, part of the characteristic humor Tolkien uses to describe the hobbits.

Frodo notes that Gollum uses the pronoun "I" when "some remnants of old truth and sincerity were for the moment on top." This is a subtle clue readers can also look for as they move through the story.

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