The Choices of Master Samwise
The Choices of Master Samwise is the tenth chapter of the fourth book in The Two Towers.
In the midst of the struggle with the spider-monster Shelob, Sam discovers Frodo lying face up, paralyzed by the spider’s poison. The sight of his master in such an awful state fills Sam with courage and rage, and he charges Shelob. He manages to stab her in one eye, which goes dark. Heaving her belly up over Sam, Shelob prepares to crush the Hobbit, but instead impales herself on his sword. Shelob shudders in pain and withdraws. Sam rushes to Frodo, and then charges Shelob again. The defeated spider flees. Sam calls out to Frodo, whom he at first believes to be asleep.
When Sam suddenly realizes that Frodo may be dead, he is stricken by the thought that he himself must now carry out the mission of destroying the Ring. He is upset by the idea of taking the Ring from Frodo’s body and carrying it himself, remembering that it was originally entrusted only to Frodo. But Sam decides that, as Frodo’s companion, he may legitimately inherit the mission. Sam takes the Ring. He attempts to flee, but hears Orc voices surrounding him. Without reflecting on his actions, Sam puts on the Ring, and feels as though the world has changed. As a result of wearing the Ring, Sam can understand the Orc language perfectly. The Orcs take up Frodo’s paralyzed body and carry it away.
Sam follows behind, listening to the guards’ conversation. One Orc, named Shagrat, is telling the other, Gorbag, that Shelob has been wounded. Gorbag is impressed that any creature was able to hurt Shelob and cut through the cords of her cobwebs. He imagines that the creature must be very powerful indeed. Shagrat announces that the orders given from above are to retrieve Frodo safe and sound, with a careful examination of all his possessions. Gorbag wonders whether Frodo is even alive at all, but Shagrat affirms that Shelob only eats living flesh, so that Frodo must still be living, although stunned. Sam is amazed to hear that Frodo is alive. The Orc guards carrying Frodo slam the doors behind them. Sam still has the Ring, but is separated from his friend.