Literature Study GuidesThe Lord Of The RingsThe Two Towers Book 4 Chapter 4 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 4) : Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit | Summary

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Summary

As they get nearer to the River Anduin, the hobbits feel a little better as the landscape becomes greener and a little less oppressive. Even Gollum seems to feel less fearful, and when Sam asks him to hunt some rabbits, he complies. When Gollum finds out Sam intends to cook the rabbits into a stew with some herbs and roots, though, he is horrified. Not only does the thought of cooked meat disgust him, but the idea of a fire frightens him. He tells Sam it will alert any spies in the area to their presence. Sam is dismissive, cooks the rabbit stew, and he and Frodo enjoy a hot meal.

But as Sam is cleaning up, he sees the fire is actually giving off some smoke, and rushes back to put it out. He's too late, however: They have been spotted by a group of Men, led by a Man named Faramir. The Men do not know what to do with the hobbits, and they can't seem to find Gollum who has gone off to hide. Frodo, worried the Men might kill Gollum if they do find him, asks them not to hurt him.

Faramir questions Frodo, who tells of leaving Rivendell with the Fellowship, and reveals that Aragorn is the bearer of the "sword that was broken" from the prophetic dream of Boromir. When the conversation gets around to "Isildur's Bane"—the Ring—however, Frodo is reluctant to tell any more.

Leaving guards to watch Frodo and Sam, Faramir and his army go off to battle some Southrons who have been recruited by Sauron and are passing through Gondor on their way to join him.

Analysis

Sam continues to treat Gollum poorly as the three travelers march toward Cirith Ungol. Yet, Gollum shows signs of softening. He brings the rabbits, and he seems very affected by the sight of Frodo sleeping peacefully under Sam's careful watch: "Gollum returned quietly and peered over Sam's shoulder. Looking at Frodo, he shut his eyes and crawled away without a sound." Readers may be torn between feeling pity, like Frodo, and disgust, like Sam, as Gollum helpfully brings the rabbits but then balks at the idea of cooking them. However, Gollum is correct about the fire, and Sam realizes his mistake too late to avoid capture.

This chapter introduces a new character—Faramir, Captain of Gondor. Although he does not reveal it right away, this is Boromir's brother—the one who also had the prophetic dream Frodo quotes: "Seek for the Sword that was Broken. In Imladris it dwells." This is why he reacts with "astonishment."

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