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Words of Explanation  by Larner

Written for the LOTR Community 2013 Non-fiction challenge.  For Michelle and Tony for their birthdays in spite of them not being particularly respectful of Tolkien's world; and to Gail and Lindelea in thanks for their continued support through it all!

The Not-So-Simple Samwise Gamgee

            He’s self-effacing:  “If I can say so as probably shouldn’t.”

            His language is rustic, using as rather than that, and often using ain’t, confusing nominative and objective cases at times.

            He’s a laborer amongst gentlehobbits, a servant amongst those intended to be Masters.  He loves what his more sophisticated neighbors and acquaintances dismiss as fable, hanging on to hear every tale he can come upon that tells of Elves, and cheerfully admitting that he believes them implicitly.  And he is thrilled to be associated with Mr. Frodo Baggins, the chosen heir to the eccentric Bilbo Baggins, now the Baggins as well as Master of Bag End and the Hill, perhaps the richest individual living in the Hobbiton area, almost in the very center of the Shire.

            And he is dismissed by many, even those who love his story, as simple.  Even his name implies simplicity:  Samwise, which is translated Half-wiseSemi-wise, Half-wit, and expected to be a simpleton.  Certainly he is depicted in the Bakshi animations as decidedly less than the others—smaller, apparently older and subservient, more a caricature than a proper character in his own right.

            But just how simple is he?

            Sam was only in his early tweens when Frodo came of age and into his inheritance, yet the Gaffer retired and left his definitely underage son in charge of Bag End’s gardens and Mr. Frodo’s welfare.  Such an act does not indicate that his father considered his son to be a true fool or simpleton.  One does not give simpletons and fools such responsibility, and particularly not when they are entering that most irresponsible period of life as most Hobbits appear to have considered those years between twenty and coming-of-age at thirty-three.  It would appear that even Hamfast Gamgee with his aphorisms and epigrams also at least subconsciously questioned how well his son’s name reflected his true nature.

            My first consideration of the true nature of Samwise Gamgee’s character came during a discussion of the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings films on  In the film-verse dialogue in The Two Towers Frodo stands wide-eyed, looking off into the terrifying future he now foresees, and he states that he doubts that he will ever return home.  In the book the scene is less obviously angsty, as Sam speaks of going back and Frodo, perhaps with a feeling of gallows humor, shakes his head and suggests that, once the Ring goes into the fire and he and Sam are there at hand, isn’t it likely that the two of them probably won’t be able to survive the chaos that will undoubtedly accompany the destruction of the Ring?  In the film dialogue Sam confronts his Master with, “But that’s just morbid thinking!” and goes on to insist that they will go there and back again.

            One of those involved in analyzing the scene felt that Sam’s line here is far too sophisticated for him, for she felt that he ought not to have such a word as morbid in his vocabulary.

            I found myself countering with, “But he was Bilbo’s pupil.  Bilbo taught him to read and write, ‘meaning nothing but good from it,’ as the Gaffer insists in book-verse.”  Obviously literacy wasn’t universal in the Shire, and certainly not in the laboring class, at the turn of the century as the Shire celebrated fourteen hundred years since its founding and Bilbo Baggins planned how he would use his little gold souvenir from his adventure to disappear from the Shire and shock his relatives.  Sam was obviously fascinated by Bilbo’s tales of Elves and dragons, to the point he wanted to know more about them.  His father obviously didn’t approve, admonishing him that his gardens and their produce were what ought to be of primary importance to the likes of them.

            But Sam wanted to know more, and Bilbo responded by teaching him to read and write so that he could read the books Bilbo had on the subject for himself.  And the Gaffer couldn’t very well tell his employer no when Bilbo took it into his head to teach the youngest of the Gaffer’s sons to read and write.  So Sam managed to get a leg up on his father starting when he was but a child by taking lessons from old Mr. Bilbo.  Obviously he already was putting the lie to his name.

            So, when did Sam first begin studying under Bilbo Baggins?  I suspect the teaching started about the time Bag End got a new resident.  Sam was about twelve when Frodo came to Bag End to live as Bilbo’s ward and heir, perhaps the equivalent of a child of eight or nine compared to children of Men.  How long he might have studied under Bilbo to that point we don’t know, but it’s likely that a good deal of his interest in learning more was sparked by his new association with Frodo.  Frodo was apparently still studying under his nominal uncle’s tutelage at the time, and so it’s likely that Sam began insinuating himself into Frodo’s lessons and was taught to read and write at least in part so as to give him the feeling that he, too, was studying the same as his newly acquired hero and future Master.  So, he was undoubtedly hearing the lessons Frodo was getting and the discussions the younger Baggins was having with the elder about the history of Middle Earth and the nature of the races and wonders to be found outside the borders of the Shire.  Inspired and intrigued both by Bilbo’s own stories and what he heard of Frodo’s lessons, he wanted to learn more, and so his education went far beyond what the Gaffer might have anticipated.

            Not only was he learning from what he heard of Frodo’s own lessons as well as what he was now able to read for himself, but it’s likely that when he and Frodo were on their own Sam was questioning Frodo about what he’d heard discussed.  So it was likely that young Samwise Gamgee actually had two teachers, both old Mr. Bilbo and young Master Frodo.  And it must have amazed Hamfast Gamgee to realize that his son was becoming an educated Hobbit in spite of his relatively low estate.

            It appears that Gaffer Gamgee had rather set expectations for the behavior of people in his particular class, and that he most likely disapproved of those who behaved in a manner beyond their station.  So it is likely that, to appease and reassure his father, Sam did not change his mode of speech to reflect his greater knowledge and surprisingly advanced education for one of his social standing.  But Sam didn’t just work in Bag End’s gardens.  Again, it appears to have been Bilbo’s habit to allow Sam the freedom of Bag End, and particularly once Frodo was living there.  We are told that he would come in and draw the curtains in the mornings to encourage Frodo to also start the day, and it’s unlikely that he would have waited to start doing this until he was in charge of the gardens.  To enter one’s Master’s bedroom to awaken him would have been seen as a great impertinence for one employed solely as a groundskeeper and gardener, so Sam must have come to be included in the household most likely from a young age to feel free to continue doing such a thing when he became Frodo’s sole servant, and was probably accustomed to doing this first at the request of Bilbo himself.  After all, what a nearly grown individual may openly resent from a parent or guardian may well be tolerated in a younger person who is known to worship the individual being so served. So, Sam was most likely coming to be seen as both an inside and an outside servant from a young age by himself, his father, and most who knew the denizens of Bag End.  An inside servant is generally allowed more latitude in familiarity with his masters than is a mere gardener, and so it was easier for the Gaffer to overlook the growing friendship between his youngest son and the Young Master.

            But Frodo doesn’t appear to have kept the line drawn between friendship and servitude anywhere as clearly as was likely with the Gaffer.  Sam was definitely on equal footing at Frodo’s last birthday party at Bag End with Fatty, Folco, Merry, and Pippin, after all, and was so free with the appointments of the smial that he felt no compunction against making extra trips to the storeroom where the ale barrel was kept for an extra “goodbye” or two, again a freedom not generally accorded to mere servants.  It’s pretty clear that the Bagginses were of a far more egalitarian bent than was Hamfast Gamgee!

            Therefore it is very likely that Sam spent far more time at Frodo’s side as a friend once he was accepted as the gardener for Bag End than he had during most of his later teen years when he was working under his father.  He was certainly familiar enough to Frodo’s closest friends among his cousins for them to enlist him to spy upon Frodo for them, and he appears to have been considered an equal partner with Merry, Pippin, and Fredegar Bolger in the Conspiracy.  Certainly when Frodo, Sam, and Pippin arrive at Crickhollow he is treated equally with Pippin and Frodo—three tubs have been set up in the bathing room, one for each of those who walked across country; and when Pippin is told off to mop up the floor because he’s sloshed water all over the place while making the water to rise up like the fountain he’s been singing about there is no attempt by Sam to take on the job as “rightfully” his duty as the one member of the servant class present.  Nor do Merry, Pippin, or Freddy seek to point out that cleaning up ought to be Sam’s job.  It is very plain that if Sam “does” for Frodo Baggins it is because it is his free choice to do so, not primarily because he is Frodo’s servant.

            It perhaps ought to have felt odd to Frodo’s so much younger cousins and Sam to have transitioned from clearly being nearly half a generation behind Frodo to being seen as his contemporaries once they, too, approached or passed coming of age.  Sam and Freddy were twelve years younger than Frodo, Merry was fourteen years younger, and Pippin twenty-two, after all!  But instead they speak with him as an equal as they explain that they are going with him no matter what.  This speaks as much to the implied egalitarian tendencies Frodo entertained as well as perhaps to the effects of the Ring, as none of the party offers Frodo particular deference due to his age, and he tolerates it.

            So they leave as apparent near-equals, Merry leading the four who are leaving the Shire at this point.  Merry was the one apparently who first recognized the possible danger inherent in the Ring and who engineered the Conspiracy, after all, and appears to have brokered to his father the idea of selling Frodo the Crickhollow house.  He is the one who provides the five ponies with which they leave the Shire, and also provides the means of escape by leading them to the gate through the hedge, producing the key and then restoring it to its proper place.  He also initially leads them into the depths of the Old Forest as far as he knows of it.  Not until the forest itself funnels the four of them and their five ponies toward the Withywindle and into Old Man Willow’s clutches does any other provide leadership, and that one is—Samwise Gamgee!  It is he who recognizes that Old Man Willow is singing of sleep and who saves Frodo.  It is he who first thinks of a means to secure the freeing of Merry, even if it does backfire.  But without his realization that the tree has attacked the party, there is no question that it’s likely only he would have been left for Tom Bombadil to find alive when he came down the path with his leaf-tray filled with water lilies a few minutes later.

            Sam’s imagination is apparently the last to be filled with the awareness of the terrible dangers possibly ahead for the party, as he is the only one who does not experience dreams sparked by potentially dangerous noises while they sleep in Bombadil’s house.  But he is the first to imagine evil of the Man Strider who seeks converse with Frodo in the Prancing Pony, and who seeks to turn Strider’s own warnings against the Ranger.  “With your leave, Mr. Frodo, I’d say no!  This Strider here, he warns and he says take care; and I say yes to that, and let’s begin with him!”  He continues to distrust Strider to one degree or another until they meet Glorfindel along the road; but it is not until they are in Rivendell in Elrond’s house that he finally gives over his suspicions for good.  It is what Sam learns about Aragorn during the period Frodo lies insensate that puts the last of his fears of the Man to rest for good and all.

            But even Strider has come to appreciate Sam’s competence as he questions whether Sam could recognize athelas, kingsfoil, as it grows, and in movie-verse he even enlists Sam’s help to search for it as Frodo’s condition deteriorates after the attack at Weathertop.

            If Sam Gamgee is learned beyond the expectations for one of his station and is seen by others as an equal in the Conspiracy and as one of Frodo’s closest friends and companions, and if he has shown himself to be remarkably competent, he is also loyal to a fault!  He stands by the others, and particularly Frodo, through thick and thin.  And he demonstrates that he is capable of developing loyalty even to the humble pony that the company is gifted with by Butterbur in Bree, the to-that-point abused Bill.  He takes on the primary care of the animal as they journey between Bree and Rivendell, and insists that Bill doesn’t wish to be separated from them and so must needs become the tenth member of the Fellowship.  Now, it was Merry who’d provided the five ponies with which they’d come to Bree; even though Butterbur paid the Brandybuck for their loss during the time the innkeeper’s people were responsible for them, still one would expect that Merry would most likely lay claim to this new steed once it came into their company.  But instead all appear to have accepted that as Sam took upon himself primary responsibility for Bill the Pony, Bill had somehow come to be Sam’s.  It is Sam who most grieves when they must separate from the pony as they look to enter Moria, and Sam is the one who is overjoyed beyond measure when Bill is restored to the Travellers once they return to the Prancing Pony.  He is so overjoyed that at that point he apparently leaves what was undoubtedly a fine pony he’d ridden all the way from Gondor there in Bree to ride Bill home instead!  And it is Bill he rides when he accompanies Frodo as Frodo indicates he is leaving the Shire for good.

            Through all they experience Sam remains his Master’s primary guardian.   He dozes during Frodo’s conversation with Gildor Inglorion, but listens to the talk nevertheless, and uses the advice Gildor has given to convince Frodo to accept the additional companionship of Merry and Pippin as they leave the Shire.  When he is checking his pack prior to the Council in Rivendell, thinking that they will soon be able to leave for home, he still recognizes that if that is not to be he will take the long road at Frodo’s side or won’t go home at all.  Elrond has apparently either foreseen or simply recognizes Sam’s role in maintaining Frodo’s wellbeing, for he does not have the gardener ejected from the Council but accepts him immediately as perhaps the first member of the Fellowship that will accompany Frodo to Mordor.  It is Sam who recognizes apparently early on that Boromir is far too focused on the Ring Frodo carries, who warns the others that Frodo will do his best to slip away without notice once he makes up his mind to head directly southeast to Mordor, who recognizes that Frodo has done just that and figures out how Frodo must intend to get across to the eastern bank of the river, and who arrives just in time to join his Master whether Frodo wishes his further company or not.  He is the one who realizes that Frodo needs physical as well as moral support to complete his task, who accompanies him all along the way, who does the most to guard the two of them from Gollum’s malice, and who serves as rear guard to protect Frodo’s back from Gollum’s attacks twice, once as they seek to escape Shelob’s lair, and later on the sides of the Fiery Mountain itself. 

            He is the one who carries the hope for both of them as the Ring incessantly draws Frodo’s attention to Itself.  He conceives of a hot meal there in Ithilien and convinces Gollum to fetch him the conies from which to prepare it.  He faces down Faramir during the interrogation the young Captain conducts, trying to gauge why Frodo and his servant are traveling through Gondor’s territory.  I’ve loved the image Tolkien draws of Sam standing before the amazed and perhaps amused Ithilien Rangers, his hands on his hips as he berates Faramir as a fool and perhaps even an unwitting ally to Sauron for interrupting Frodo’s as yet unnamed errand, and I equally love the movie-verse exchange between Faramir and Sam in which the former asks if Sam is Frodo’s bodyguard, to which a glaring Sam responds tersely, “No—his gardener!”

            As the two of them pursue their journey toward Mount Doom, increasingly it is Sam who takes the initiative as Frodo weakens by the moment, not only due to the weariness of the journey and the horror of the landscape of Mordor and the lack of sufficient food and drink, but also as the Ring continues to increasingly monopolize Frodo’s attention and seeks to subvert his will.  Sam captures Frodo’s hands as the Ring seeks to force Frodo to don It, and does his best to kindle those memories that hopefully will additionally strengthen him against the Ring’s fell will.  Once he realizes that Frodo is still alive even after having been poisoned by the spider and has fallen into the hands of quarreling factions of Orcs, it is Sam who sets out to find his Master and rescues him.  It is Sam who sees Frodo freed and the Ring restored to him, and it is Sam who finds the clothing they wear as they flee the Tower of Cirith Ungol and during the first stages of their journey through Mordor itself.  It is Sam who gives Frodo his Elven cloak to wear and sacrifices a portion of his precious hithlain rope to serve as a belt when Frodo can no longer stand wearing the orc garb.  Once Sam recognizes that they indeed will most likely not live to return to the Shire, he sacrifices his beloved pans and everything else that might weigh them down as they make the last leg to bring the Ring to the fire.  It is Sam who carries Frodo up the mountain on his back when Frodo can no longer move of his own volition.  And it is Sam who brings Frodo out of the Sammath Naur after the destruction of the Ring to the one place where they can be seen and rescued, although they have no idea that rescue is on the way.

            Sam has matured from the apparently simple Hobbit who mistook Caradhras for Mount Doom.  He is now truly the Prince of the West he is acclaimed as on the Field of Cormallen.  He has accomplished what not even Frodo believed possible—he has indeed seen to it that his Master made it to there and then back again.  And he has seen it accomplished with a surprising degree of grace. 

            When Frodo first feels the impulse to put on the Ring as the first Black Rider approaches the site where he, Sam, and Pippin are hiding during their walking trip across the Shire to Buckland, he has no idea that the Ring Itself is adding Its own will to that of the wraith to inspire him to unwittingly reveal himself.  Later in the Old Forest It tries to convince him to slip out of Bombadil’s house while wearing It, perhaps intending to send him either into the hands of the barrow-wights or onto the Road into the path of one of the questing Black Riders.  It tries in Bree to convince him to put It on to escape from an embarrassing situation as he fumbles to find something to say or do that will draw attention away from Pippin’s potentially revealing description of Bilbo using It years ago at the Party in his now infamous disappearance.  Frustrated, It finally slips Itself onto Frodo’s finger as he dances upon the table, causing him to disappear in precisely the manner Frodo had been trying to avoid reminding his listeners of.

            But it isn’t until they face the wraiths in the dell below Weathertop that they all appreciate that the Ring Itself truly is exercising Its will in prompting him to put It on.

            It is likely that the Ring sought to suborn Strider during the journey between Bree and Rivendell, and perhaps even during the stay there before the Council.  That It would be testing all of Frodo’s companions within the Fellowship once their greater journey was begun is perhaps a given.  But the specific testing It offered Sam once he was in possession of It is most instructive of both Its nature and his.  First It offered him the same temptation It probably made to almost everyone:  he was wearing Sting at the time, which had been crafted in ancient Gondolin.  He could now raise that small sword and become the Hero of the Age!  His call would summon the greatest army ever assembled, and together they would march on the Black Tower and cast it down and displace Sauron forever.  Sam, who was never raised for martial pursuits, apparently dismissed that vision pretty swiftly.  But then, having learned more of his nature, It changed tactics.  Wielding Its power, Sam could transform the whole of Mordor from the sterile, harsh, unwelcoming desert to which Sauron had reduced it into a garden the size of a realm!  Now, this was a far different and more welcome dream, one that would truly appeal to the nature of a gardener who had ever labored in other people’s gardens.  But in the end he realized there would be no true accomplishment to such a scenario, not one that would truly please him.  He wished instead a garden of his own, one that he labored over using his own hands, not magic or the labor of slaves.  With that dismissal of Its temptations, the Ring appears to have gone quiescent, for It apparently could not deal effectively with those who had no ambition, the one quality that all of the Rings had been created to serve and by which It could capture the wearers of the other Rings to Its Master’s service.

            Already the Ring had been forced to deal with that most stubborn of Bagginses—how much more amazing to It must have been this guileless gardener who wanted only the fruits of his own labor and no more!

            So we see Sam showing his own quality, the equal to that he’d seen proven in Boromir’s brother—the very highest!

            As they labored along their lonely path, Sam and Frodo spoke of tales, and it was Sam who pointed out how the two of them were now in an extension of the old stories:  that of Lúthien and Beren and the Silmaril had led into that of Eärendil and his part in drawing the Valar to participate in the War of Wrath; and now Frodo bore the light of the ancient jewel that had been associated with all of those, caught in the crystal phial given him by the Lady Galadriel.  Earlier he’d revealed that he’d memorized the Lay of the Fall of Gil-galad, and then recited his own poem of the Stone Troll.  It is plain that Sam had indeed become educated by Bilbo Baggins, and again apparently far beyond what his old dad had anticipated or could appreciate.  Perhaps he never truly embraced becoming a warrior or Wizard, but there is no question that he proved himself to be an extraordinary individual from any race!

            Tolkien indicated in his correspondence that the Hobbits represented the little people who do most of the fighting of wars in the real world.  Frodo, Merry, and Pippin were certainly the equivalents of himself and his friends from the schools he’d attended and from his university days who enlisted imagining glory for themselves as they fought the Hun, while Sam was much the same as the sons of farmers, carpenters, shopkeepers, and the like that they had grown up alongside in the villages surrounding the greater cities of Britain.  These became the grunts, the foot soldiers, the Tommys.  These went into the army with little realistic appreciation for what they would really endure once they reached the front.  They were the ones most likely to see their fellows blown into pieces by artillery or caught on the barbed wire strung by the enemy to protect their own bunkers, or floating in rain-filled bomb craters.  Their innocence was stolen from them as they experienced the horrors of war and saw their fellows fall too often due to the ineptitude of their commanders.  Many came home more wounded in spirit than in body, and perhaps never escaped nightmares engendered by the often needless and unintended destruction of land and people they’d witnessed and perhaps even inflicted upon others.

            And these four Hobbits came home to take up leadership roles in seeing the Shire scoured of the ruffians who’d come to occupy it in their absence and then restored to meet the needs of its inhabitants who undoubtedly still couldn’t fathom how they’d first come to find themselves cowering from the brutality of Lotho’s tyranny enforced by these mercenaries, and then how in a matter of a few days the Travellers turned the situation around and drove the scoundrels out!  And now Sam was right there in the limelight!  The Hobbits of the Shire might have heard how Merry and Pippin led the Shire’s Hobbitry in arms to flush out those ruffians who hid here and there wherever they might find some cover, but it was Sam they saw and aided seeing to the dismantling of the Shirriff houses and the rebuilding of destroyed homes and businesses (and inns, of course!) throughout their lands.  It was Sam to whom they volunteered their help in seeing their neighbors rehoused, trees and gardens replanted, and all set aright once more.  As for what Frodo accomplished as deputy Mayor, it’s likely that the average Hobbit, who tended to see the Mayor only at public functions, had no idea as to what Frodo was doing to help return the Shire to normal.  So, as far as most of the Shire was concerned, Sam was the one they saw actually doing the work of restoration and so he was the one to whom they primarily ascribed responsibility for their recovered wellbeing.  With this in mind it is easy to appreciate why the Hobbits of the Shire chose Sam Gamgee to succeed Will Whitfoot as Mayor when Will finally chose to retire.

            After Frodo returned the responsibilities of the Mayor to Will Whitfoot during the Free Fair of 1420, the Baggins returned to private life in Hobbiton, where he now shared Bag End with Sam and Rosie, and began systematically fading from view.  Sam came there not as Frodo’s servant, but as his equal. 

            Never has Frodo apparently ever considered Sam to be merely a servant—even when Sam was a child and Frodo in his later adolescence it’s likely he’d seen Sam as a friend.  And a friend Sam has become indeed, as Frodo describes him when he tries to explain in book-verse why he’s certain they won’t be returning to the Shire once the Ring is gone—if they manage to survive to reach the Sammath Naur, that is.  “Friend of friends!” Frodo calls him at this point in the narrative.  There is no question at all that here Frodo honors Sam as at least his equal, if not his better.  And when they dwell in Minas Tirith the citizens of the White City think of Sam not as Frodo’s servant but as his esquire, which most clearly reflects what I see as their true relationship.  For it is obvious that Bilbo and Frodo have always seen Sam was destined for greater things, and that Frodo in the end is preparing Sam to succeed him as Master of Bag End and the Hill, and as the caretaker for the Shire they both so love but that Frodo can no longer hope to serve.

            It is possible, even likely, that Frodo considered himself secondary to Sam now.  Sam achieved his part of the quest, after all; but Frodo still believed on at least an emotional level that he himself had failed his.  All could see and admire the martial splendor of Meriadoc Brandybuck, the personal esquire to the King of Rohan, and Peregrin Took, who’d been knighted by the King Returned.  So many had seen Samwise Gamgee directing the restoration of homes, inns, groves, and fields.  But Frodo hadn’t done his work out in public view, and wasn’t traveling about the Shire in fancy dress wearing his mithril corselet and with Sting hanging at his side.  He did his best always to hide his pain from others.  At least he was doing his best to hide the depth of that pain even from Sam and Rosie, with whom he shared Bag End, even as he’d earlier done his best to hide it from Tom Cotton while he still abode with the Cottons on their farm.

            Sam, however, is still far more aware of Frodo’s intent than the Baggins wishes to think.  This time he does not argue when Frodo presents him with the deed to Bag End and gives him paperwork he will need to follow through upon now that he takes Frodo’s place as Master of Bag End and the Hill.  In spite of Frodo’s continuing work at seeking to conceal his deteriorating condition, Sam still recognizes—and apparently accepts!—that Frodo must now leave the Shire.  Now, Frodo is still a comparatively young individual for his race.  He’s approaching his fifty-third birthday, about the equivalent of a Man in his mid to late thirties.  That Sam would accept that Frodo must now leave the Shire in order to best meet his own needs, he had to recognize that Frodo was indeed fading, and without perhaps more “Elvish medicine” he’d most likely deteriorate and possibly even die in a foreseeable future.  That Sam, who’d so demonstrated his love of Frodo Baggins so thoroughly, would even imagine ceding his Master’s care to Elrond and so allow Frodo to retire to Rivendell alongside old Mr. Bilbo is the greatest indicator I can imagine of his recognition that he sees this abandonment of the Shire as both necessary and desirable for Frodo’s own wellbeing at this point. 

            But this time Frodo has been able at last to conceal the true destination of this final journey together in Middle Earth—he’s not heading east, but rather west—all the way West to the Undying Lands.  Frodo can no longer continue, the victim of his memories and continued self-doubt, to remain even with those he loves best and who most strongly love him in return.  The Ring had scoured him out past normal recovery; if he is to be refilled, he must accept the Queen’s second gift to himself.  And so Sam accompanies him to the Havens, resists the final temptation to follow him now, and instead returns home to the arms of his wife and daughter, to know the full life Frodo had foretold to him.

            It’s unlikely that a person would be considered for the post of Mayor unless he was first a land-holder.  Frodo Baggins had raised Sam to that status in the eyes of his fellow Hobbits of the Shire when he made Sam his heir and ceded Bag End to him and Rosie.  And at the next election, Sam succeeds Will Whitfoot as Mayor of the Shire, remaining in that office for forty-nine years, seven terms!  Frodo had held those responsibilities for the first eight months after they returned from the quest; now Sam again has followed his Master in still another path of responsibility.

            So Sam’s remarkable nature and innate wisdom and good Hobbit-sense achieve recognition now on all sides.  He is the Master of Bag End and the Hill, the greatest gardener in the Shire to the point that his family name is changed from Gamgee to Gardner, he’s the honored Mayor of the Shire, and the hero of countless Hobbits all through the lands once ceded to Blanco and Marcho by Argeleb the Second.  He is recognized as a Prince of the West by the citizens of Arnor, Gondor, and Rohan, and by the Elves and Dwarves who are influenced by Legolas, Celeborn, the sons of Elrond, and Gimli Gloín’s son.  The King so honors him that Aragorn names him Panthael, or Fully-wise, rather than Perhael, the Sindarin translation of Samwise, as he pens the letter sent in one of the proposed epilogues to LOTR Tolkien had written; and according to the Appendices he gives to Sam one of the two Elendilmir stones now in his possession when he and the Queen come north fifteen years after Elanor’s birth.  Plus, Sam along with Pippin and Merry are named among the King’s advisors.  And in the end Sam leaves the Shire after his beloved wife’s death, certain that the Elves will grant him passage on the next ship intended to leave the Mortal Lands for Tol Eressëa, where he has faith he will rejoin at last the Master—and friend—who has been gone from him for over sixty years.

            No, considering all of this, I simply cannot accept that Samwise Gamgee was ever truly simple.

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