The Departure of Túrin
The Departure of Túrin is the fourth chapter of The Children of Húrin.
After the defeat of the House of Hador and the capture of Húrin at the Fen of Serech (of which none were aware but the enemy), Morgoth gave to the Easterlings, those men who had helped in the destruction of Maedhros through treachery, the land of Dor-lómin. But they would not harm nor come near the home of Húrin, for they felt Morwen was a power in her own right and also they were afraid of the mountains within which the house was set, for they felt they were the haunt of the Elves.
Morwen now remembered her husband’s advice “Go swiftly!” but she could and would not follow his wish; for she was now with child and felt she must await her husband’s return. Instead she tarried, and many months passed before she sent her son, Túrin, away to Elven Doriath in Beleriand for fear of him being captured by the Easterlings and so placed in servitude.
This parting was a great sorrow to Túrin. Gethron and Grithnir, old soldiers of Húrin's house, took Túrin and they escaped by way of a secret pass over the Shadowy Mountains and came down in to Beleriand and finally to Doriath, the Kingdom of Thingol and Melian with the help of Beleg the Strongbow.
The Halls of Menegroth in the heart of Doriath were a wonder for young Tùrin and there Thingol took him as a foster son and granted him arms and shelter, for well renowned was the name of Húrin. Even though word was sent back to Morwen that her son was safe and that she might come to Doriath, she would not leave Dor-lómin – her new born child, Niënor, Túrin’s sister, was but an infant and she remained faithful to Húrin.
Túrin’s second sorrow was when he heard that his mother was to remain in Dor-lómin; but in her stead she sent to Túrin the dragon-crested Helm of Hador, wrought by Telchar, as the heirloom of their house.
Morwen is central to the narrative in this chapter. Tolkien successfully develops her character to delve below her earlier stern appearance to see the angst, love and tension that drives her. She is left to manage a small household, and in the face of the opposition of the cruel Easterlings, that are the dire consequences she fortold, she continues to lead steadfastly. Her mistake is to tarry, not to escape; perhaps she feels Húrin still lives, and hopes of his return. Or it may also be the mind of Morgoth bent upon her, willing her to remain so she might weave a web of ruin. There is no denying the strength of her character, however, and the resolution of her nature, turning the readers' perception of her from a cold unfeeling mother to a strife ridden wife who is lonely, proud and beleaguered.
SPOILER This section deals with future aspects of the tale. Tolkien is also weaving his tragedy:
- Túrin’s sorrows will heighten his future hatred of Morgoth; and his need for revenge and rebellion.
- His chance meeting with Bereg.
- The birth of Niënor after Turin has left Dor-lómin.
- The steadfastness of Morwen not to travel to Doriath against the wisdom of Melian.
- The Helm of Hador becomes a potent device for the future.
A question to challenge the tale: Did Túrin know of his younger sister? Was he aware before he left his mother? Would she not have sent tidings of the birth to him in Doriath with the Helm?