by Mallory Huber
In 2014 as a naive 26 year old, I took on the task of reading The Lord of the Rings for the first time in my life; and my world was rocked. I knew immediately that I had to marathon the movies and that I had to research and that I had to learn Elvish and that I had to figure out the personality types of each character. I imagine that people read The Lord of the Rings, and they spend years of their life thinking about which character they would be if transported into the story. They enter the world in their mind and frolick to and fro throughout Middle Earth as a part of the Fellowship, striking down Balrogs or dropping rings in flaming pits. Surprisingly I’ve actually spent zero time thinking about it. I know exactly who I would be.
Sam Gamgee, my friends. I am Sam Gamgee.
I’m not a crier. I understand some people are and that they can’t make it through Hallmark commercials without balling their eyes out. I tend to keep my tears tucked away for a rainy day. And I was rather proud of myself for making it through my first LOTR marathon without crying. That is until the very last part. (If you haven’t seen the movies, you may just want to stop now because I will be ruining it for you.) The very last scene of The Return of the King is where Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin escort Bilbo to the shores because he has been offered invitation to the Grey Havens to be with the elves. They say their goodbyes as our four hobbits all stand by in sorrow and sadness. Gandalf says, “Here at the last on the shores of the sea comes the end of our friendship. I will not say, ‘Do not weep’ for not all tears are an evil.” (Oh my gosh. Stop. So beautiful.) As he turns to leave, he looks back once more to say, “It is time, Frodo.”
It is then that I was hit by a wall. Oh yes, what a great moment for Frodo. He has saved the Shire, but the Shire is not safe for him. Here he gets to accept invitation to the Grey Havens. And joyful he is. Yet there sits Sam Gamgee. Oh yes, there sits Sam Gamgee on the shore. He follows Frodo all these years, through all this danger. He carries the ring for Frodo when he thought Frodo dead. He basically carries him to destroy it. He is loyal. A trustworthy, loyal friend is Sam. Perhaps, yes, loyal to a fault at times, but he is loyal nonetheless.
And here sits self-righteous ole’ Frodo just going to the Grey Havens without Sam and without any warning. I mean SURE Sam’s got a family now and living happily ever after in the shire. And SURE Frodo is terribly depressed and unhappy and doesn’t feel at home anywhere. And SURE it’s probably the best decision for them both. And SURE Sam is happy for them and will see him again eventually. Sure, that’s all true. But there I sat with tears streaming down my face, heaving quietly into the pillow as the credits rolled.
It was then that I knew that I am Sam.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that being angry at Frodo’s departure was a solid sign of comradery with Sam. Perhaps it was also a sign of some unhealthy aggression, but that’s neither here nor there. So I sat there in my tears and anger until my loving friend turns to me to bring me off the ledge of Frodo hate. That day I learned a lot about myself.
- I would probably be a Hobbit, if it ever comes down to it; but I’ll always want to be friends with elves.
- If I had to be a hobbit, I would keep razors nearby because toe hair is nasty.
- I can not ever marathon The Lord of the Rings by myself because depression is a real thing.
- Loyalty has been my strong suit, and abandonment my greatest fear.
Who knew that marathoning Lord of the Rings was going to be an all day counseling session?
So what about you? I know you’ve spent time dreaming of Rivendell or imagined yourself riding an Ent or slaying an Orc. Which character are you?
Mallory Huber worked with the same missionary family that I did in Senegal. We have participated in every Senegal reunion since then, and have become the best kind of friends–ones who carry on a texting book club on The Fellowship of the Ring. She is passionate, intelligent, and I am trying to convince her to become a pastor. She’s the Sam Gamgee to my Frodo Baggins, and I love her dearly.