Last week Lucy and I finally made it to Mount Doom and the critical moment for Frodo and all of Middle-earth. We read the chapter in one sitting, so story time at bedtime was a bit longer.
Sam got up. He was dazed, and blood streaming from his head dripped into his eyes. He groped forward, and then he saw a strange and terrible thing. Gollum on the edge of the abyss was fighting like a mad thing with an unseen foe. To and fro he swayed, now so near to the brink that almost he tumbled in, now dragging back, falling to the ground, rising, and falling again. And all the while he hissed but spoke no words.
The fires below awoke in anger, the red light blazed, and all the cavern was filled with a great glare and heat. Suddenly Sam saw Gollum’s long hands draw upwards to his mouth; his white fangs gleamed, and then snapped as they bit.
I later asked Lucy what she thought of this moment (and the events leading to it). Was she surprised about Frodo’s claiming of the ring at the last moment? Was she surprised to see Gollum again? What did she think of the struggle at the cracks of doom?
“I was surprised when Gollum showed up again on the mountain’s side. But then they said that he followed them, so I wasn’t surprised to see him again after that.”
[Were you surprised that Frodo didn’t destroy the Ring?]
“I was surprised that Frodo didn’t want to throw the ring in the fire. But I suppose that would’ve been a less exciting ending than fighting with Gollum.”
[Do you think Frodo failed?]
“Not really. I mean, it was the Ring that was making him not want to destroy it, so it wasn’t really his fault.”
[What did you think of Gollum and Frodo fighting over the Ring? What did you think was going to happen?]
“At first, I thought they might both fall in the fire. And when Gollum brought his hands to his mouth and bit, I thought he was going to bite Frodo’s head off, and then have to feel around for the Ring because Frodo’s body would still be invisible. [This was a surprising revelation to me!] And I thought Gollum could have at least taken the finger out of the Ring.”
“I didn’t expect the mountain to explode. I thought there would be a bit of fire that came out and that’s all.”
[When did you know that Frodo & Sam weren’t going to die?]
“When Gandalf called the Eagles.”
[Did you expect to see Sauron?]
“Yes, but I didn’t think he’d look like that…like a big, black, ghost-thing.”
[What did you think of that? He a huge, black, shadowy cloud, with lightning, and it reached out to the Captains of the West outside the gates…]
“That was really scary!”
[Did you think that it was going to get them?]
“Kind of, but then I remembered that the Ring had been destroyed.”
[Were you surprised to see Merry and Pippin at the feast?
“Yeah! I thought the knight dressed in green and the other one dressed in silver and black were Éowyn and Faramir. I thought they would re-introduce Merry later. I thought Pippin was dead!”
[Why did you think Pippin was dead?]
“Because they talked about his…memory?…floating away!” [I was really pleased this bit surprised her.]