The Two Towers: The Black Gate is Closed & Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit (Week 8)

 Chapter III: The Black Gate is Closed

As Gollum guides Frodo and Sam to the Black Gate of Mordor, Frodo agonizes over what path to take from there. He is determined to carry on his quest and can see no other option than to march up to the Black Gate itself, yet he knows this is hopeless. At this moment, Gollum reveals a more dangerous, secret path that could lead them into Mordor. Frodo agrees to follow him, warning him of his promise to the Precious. 

This chapter really illustrates how firmly resolved Frodo is to continue on his task, despite being overwhelmed with the feeling that it is hopeless. He's willing to walk straight into the gates of Mordor, not knowing what stands behind or if he has any hope of success. 

Book Club Discussion Prompts

  • Upon seeing Frodo's determination and fearing, more than anything, for the Ring to fall into the hands of Sauron, he proposes a 'darker, more difficult' path. What are Gollum's motives for this plan, in your opinion? Is he working for the sake of Frodo, bound by his oath, or out of hope for the Precious?

  •  Frodo agonizes over his decision, wishing so desperately that he had Gandalf with him to help him. Do you ever feel alone in discerning your path? Thankfully the Holy Spirit never leaves us!

Chapter IV: Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit

In this chapter, the hobbits follow Gollum into the land of Ithilien. Its landscape lifts their spirits and reminds Sam of how badly he wishes for a nice, proper meal. Gollum catches a few rabbits at Sam's request, but is horrified to realize Sam intends to cook them and skulks off on his own. After their meal, their campfire is spotted by Captain Faramir's men and they are questioned. A battle soon breaks out between Faramir's men and a company of soldiers from Mordor, and afterward the hobbits are taken into Faramir's company. 

Book Club Discussion Prompts

  • What was your first impression of Faramir? Did any of his qualities or anything he said stand out to you? Did he remind you of any other character from The Lord of the Rings?

  • Reflect on Sam's first experience of battle. How does he feel about it? Considering Tolkien knew the brutality of war firsthand, do you think this was a reflection of his own attitude toward it?