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Old 08-02-2021, 04:38 AM   #33
Legate of Amon Lanc
A Voice That Gainsayeth
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Originally Posted by littlemanpoet View Post
"You look like a giant, Dad," said his son, who had not spoken before.

The concluding phrase in this sentence seems strange. It sticks out to me. We know that the son had not spoken in this particular conversation before, we can tell ourselves because it's the first time he's given words, obviously. Which leaves me to wonder, is this the first time that this lad has spoken at all? Is this what Tolkien means? If not, fine, but show me how this is not so. If so, why add it to the story? Is the boy's tongue loosened by Faery?
Rather interesting take. I personally never saw anything strange to it. Exactly quite the opposite: the son's tongue had been "taken away" by Faery in that particular conversation, he was so stupefied by Dad's sudden "glowy" appearance that he could not speak. Only after a long while, he managed to stutter out, or put into words the feeling he had.

That always seemed rather straightforward to me, although one can read it in different ways, just like anything.

Speaking of that particular experience - maybe this is the moment to mention my last strange impression from the whole story, vaguely related to my misgivings about the Smith leaving his family behind while he runs away to have fun in Faerie.

I remember that when I read it the first time, I was somewhat disturbed by the scene where the Smith dances with the Queen. She gives him the flower, then he comes back home and everyone, including his wife, is slightly puzzled. Back then, I wondered whether it was some very suspicious cipher for marital infidelity. The Smith keeps going somewhere away, and when he comes back, his wife asks: "Where have you been? And where did you get this flower?" Which was given to him by another woman. I remember being especially upset on his family's behalf because they clearly had no clue where he had been going and he never told them.

The impression was in my mind combined also with the fact that the Queen flirts (as I had read it) with the traveller, but the King is nowhere to be seen. I think I even interpreted Alf's initially somewhat reserved attitude towards the Smith later on as a way of saying "I know you have been visiting my wife, but I am not saying anything".

To be fair, now that I was rereading it, I did not see it there so much - but it is hard for me to judge it objectively, because the knowledge that I had read it as such still somehow influences my perception of it. I'd be interested if anyone else got a similar vibe. It is quite obvious (especially from the son's discussion as discussed above) that the intent was different, but I wonder whether anyone else got the impression that there is a bit of that in there.
"Should the story say 'he ate bread,' the dramatic producer can only show 'a piece of bread' according to his taste or fancy, but the hearer of the story will think of bread in general and picture it in some form of his own." -On Fairy-Stories
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