Every Monday, our Facebook group has been discussing one or two chapters from The Lord of the Rings, and so I'm happy to be sharing a little bit of our conversation and reflections as we go! If you'd like to read along with us, join our Facebook group! Otherwise, leave your comments below and we can continue the discussion! We're currently reading through The Two Towers, the second part of The Lord of the Rings. Want to journal through The Two Towers with us? Grab your journal here!
Flotsam and Jetsam & The Voice of Saruman
The majority of this week's first chapter, Flotsam and Jetsam, is spent amongst old friends as they eat, drink, smoke, and recount their stories to one another. Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli stay behind with Merry and Pippin as the others leave to consult with Treebeard. As the chapter comes to an end, all are feeling refreshed and nourished for the journey ahead.
They then join Gandalf and the men of Rohan, going together to the foot of Orthanc to speak with Saruman. As the chapter's title suggests, Saruman's voice is one of his greatest strengths. It is “low and melodious, its very sound an enchantment… it seemed wise and reasonable…” It flatters, enthralls, enchants, comforts— yet it always seeks to control. He first seeks to bring Théoden to his side, and when he fails, he tries to do the same to Gandalf.
In the end, Gandalf is forced to reveal his power and break Saruman's staff, although showing him a great mercy and leaving him alive. As they leave Isengard, Saruman is left under the watch of the Ents.
Book Club Musings
- As seen in "Flotsam and Jetsam", there is a great healing power that comes from wholesome nourishment: of food and cheer and song, as Tolkien is popularly quoted. Aragorn marvels at the sight of Merry and Pippin, remarking, “Indeed you look in the bloom of health.” What does ’the bloom of health’ look like in your life? We all have seasons of life where we feel our best physically, spiritually, and/or emotionally. Reflect on these for yourself and share a few below so we can encourage one another!
- A major theme of these chapters is the power of nature over the machine, illustrated in the power of the Ents over Saruman.
- Reflect on the differences between Gandalf and Saruman in The Voice of Saruman. Saruman seeks dominion over all others—seeking to manipulate them for the purposes of his own will; Gandalf seeks to guide others—for the good and freedom of all. “I do not wish for mastery” said Gandalf.”
- Discuss Gandalf's quote, "Often does hatred hurt itself." How have you experienced this truth in your life?
- It seems apparent that much of Saruman's anger is rooted in his desire for control. Do you struggle with anger in your everyday life? Be mindful of the situations in which you find yourself growing angry or resentful. Ask yourself, am I seeking control instead of cooperation? Am I afraid of losing power or authority? How can I respond to this situation with respect instead of resentment?