The Choices of Master Samwise

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The Choices of Master Samwise
Chapter of The Two Towers
EventSamwise becomes the Ring-bearer.
Date13 March 3019
LocationShelob's Lair
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The Choices of Master Samwise is the tenth chapter of the second book in The Two Towers.

Summary[edit | edit source]

In the midst of the struggle with the spider-monster Shelob, Sam discovered Frodo lying face up, tied up in Shelob's webs and paralysed by the spider’s poison. The sight of his master in such an awful state filled Sam with courage and rage, and he charged Shelob. He managed to stab her in one eye, which went dark. Heaving her belly up over Sam, Shelob prepared to crush the Hobbit, but instead impaled herself on his sword. She shuddered in pain and withdrew. Sam rushed to Frodo, and then charged Shelob again. The defeated spider fled.

Sam hurriedly cut the binding webs off of Frodo, and cautiously attempted to rouse him back to consciousness. At first he believed Frodo to be asleep, but panicked when he checked Frodo for a heartbeat and found nothing.

When Sam suddenly realized that Frodo may be dead, he was stricken by the thought that he himself must now carry out the mission of destroying the Ring. He was 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 decided that, as Frodo’s companion, he may legitimately inherit the mission. Sam kissed Frodo's forehead and then took the Ring. He attempted to flee, but heard Orc voices surrounding him. Without reflecting on his actions, Sam put on the Ring, and felt as though the world had changed. As a result of wearing the Ring, Sam could understand the Orc language perfectly. The Orcs took up Frodo’s paralysed body and carried it away.

Sam followed behind, listening to the guards’ conversation. One Orc, named Shagrat, was telling the other, Gorbag, that Shelob had been wounded. Gorbag was impressed that any creature was able to hurt Shelob and cut through the cords of her cobwebs. He imagined that the creature must be very powerful indeed. Shagrat announced that the orders given from above were to retrieve Frodo safe and sound, with a careful examination of all his possessions. Gorbag wondered whether Frodo was even alive at all, but Shagrat affirmed that Shelob only eats living flesh, so that Frodo must still be living, although stunned. Sam was amazed to hear that Frodo was alive. The Orc guards carrying Frodo slammed the doors behind them. Sam still had the Ring, but was separated from his friend.

Composition[edit | edit source]

The chapter was probably written around May 1944.

By that time Tolkien's earlier sketches had been obsoleted (because motives and times had changed) and wrote the last three chapters of Book III with great effort, and changing the sequence of events.[1] He used all his spare time in order to finish the Book IV by the end of May, and manage to bring the story to a suitable pause before stopping for the summer exams.[2]