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Old 03-08-2003, 08:47 AM   #4
Illustrious Ulair
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.

I was struck, reading Verlyn Flieger's Splintered Light, by the way she brought forward Tolkien's own sense of religious doubt, which would sometimes assail him. So for Tolkien himself, this idea of fighting on, doing what's right, simply because its right, must have been what got him through some very difficult times. Perhaps 'hope without guarantees' is the point. Perhaps he held to his Catholicism, not because he ALWAYS believed it, but because he felt that was the RIGHT thing to do, whether it was true or not, whether he would be 'saved' or not.
Its always struck me, the way the two characters, Saruman & Denethor, who place most emphasis on winning as the be all & end all are the ones destroyed by that desire. Saruman, for whom victory becomes so important that in the end he doesn't care which side wins, as long as he's on the winning side, & Denethor, who cannot bear to live once his guarantee of victory seems to have been taken away.
On the other side there's Frodo, who does what's right (sparing Gollum), when from the point of view of the quest, that's the most dangerous course.
So, I think Tolkien is saying that, Death is unavoidable, Eru's 'gift'. There's no way to escape death. Whatever may or may not come after. So what matters is how you live, doing good, because its what we should do, what, as human beings we're required to do (by the simple fact of our humanity, whether there's Anyone or Anything 'out there' or not). But in the end, death, as Tolkien said, is inevitable. I actually think it is the core of the book ('someone has to give them up, so that others may keep them').
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