Through a combination of Sam’s loyalty and the wisdom of a solemn young man, Frodo receives some much-needed aid in his quest (but not without quite a bit of discomfort first).
‘So!’ [Faramir] said. ‘You bid me mind my own affairs, and get me back home, and let you be. Boromir will tell all, when he comes. When he comes, say you! Were you a friend of Boromir?’
Vividly before Frodo’s mind came the memory of Boromir’s assault upon him, and for a moment he hesitated. Faramir’s eyes watching him grew harder. ‘Boromir was a valiant member of our Company,’ said Frodo at length. ‘Yes, I was his friend, for my part.’
Faramir smiled grimly. ‘Then you would grieve to learn that Boromir is dead?’
‘I would grieve indeed,’ said Frodo. Then catching the look in Faramir’s eyes, he faltered. ‘Dead?’ he said. ‘Do you mean that he is dead, and that you knew it? You have been trying to trap me in words, playing with me? Or are you now trying to snare me with a falsehood?’
‘I would not snare even an orc with a falsehood,’ said Faramir.
When Faramir all but accuses Frodo of treachery towards Boromir, Sam finally looses his patience and starts chewing him out for the direction the interrogation is turning. Faramir replies that he’s just giving them a chance to explain themselves, as opposed to killing them for trespassing and asking questions later.
‘You asked how do I know that the son of Denethor is dead. Tidings of death have many wings. Night oft brings news to near kindred, ‘tis said. Boromir was my brother.’
‘I sat at night by the waters of Anduin, in the grey dark under the young pale moon, watching the ever-moving stream; and the sad reeds were rustling. So do we ever watch the shores nigh Osgiliath, which our enemies now partly hold, and issue from it to harry our lands. But that night all the world slept at the midnight hour. Then I saw, or it seemed that I saw, a boat floating on the water, glimmering grey, a small boat of a strange fashion with a high prow, and there was none to row or steer it.
‘An awe fell on me, for a pale light was round it. But I rose and went to the bank, and began to walk out into the stream, for I was drawn towards it. Then the boat turned towards me, and stayed its pace, and floated slowly by within my hand’s reach, yet I durst not handle it. It waded deep, as if it were heavily burdened, and it was almost filled with clear water, from which came the light; and lapped in the water a warrior lay asleep.
‘A broken sword was on his knee. I saw many wounds on him. It was Boromir, my brother, dead. I knew his gear, his sword, his beloved face. One thing only I missed: his horn. One thing only I knew not: a fair belt, as it were of linked golden leaves, about his waist. Boromir! I cried. Where is thy horn? Whither goest thou? O Boromir! But he was gone. The boat turned into the stream and passed glimmering on into the night. Dreamlike it was, and yet no dream, for there was no waking. And I do not doubt that he is dead and has passed down the River to the Sea.’
Full disclosure: I love Faramir to a somewhat absurd degree. No, it’s not just David Wenham’s beautiful eyes (though that certainly doesn’t hurt). He’s just such a sweet boy and he never catches a break (yeah, technically he’s a *man*, but he’s still younger than everyone but Pippin and he is precious to me).
Anyhow, Frodo’s response to the news of Boromir’s death finally convinces Faramir to trust him, so he invites/orders the hobbits to come with him to their secret hideout while they wait for the hubbub of that whole ambush thing to die down. Meanwhile, they talk a little more about Boromir and Frodo’s mission. Faramir quickly guesses that Boromir came in conflict with Frodo over “Isildur’s Bane” (and quite a bit more than Frodo tells him in general).
‘And this I remember of Boromir as a boy, when we together learned the tale of our sires and the history of our city, that always it displeased him that his father was not king. “How many hundreds of years needs it to make a steward a king, if the king returns not?” he asked. “Few years, in other places of less royalty,” my father answered. “In Gondor ten thousand years would not suffice.” Alas! Poor Boromir. Does that not tell you something of him?’
It’s funny how Boromir gets more development when he’s dead than when he was alive, but it actually kind of makes sense. He wasn’t a very self-reflective person, so he would normally just accomplish whatever task was set before him, and his main goal in life was to lead Gondor to victory and prosperity. Since he was such a great warrior and leader in battle, no one ever asked him for more. But his little brother was of a more observant and introspective disposition. Evidently that’s why he took such a great interest in learning from Gandalf (who spent quite a bit of time perusing ancient records in Minas Tirith, if you’ll recall). And he clearly learned more from Gandalf, too, than he may have told openly.
‘But this much I learned, or guessed, and I have kept it ever secret in my heart since: that Isildur took somewhat from the hand of the Unnamed, ere he went away from Gondor, never to be seen among mortal men again. […]
‘What in truth this Thing is I cannot yet guess; but some heirloom of power and peril it must be. A fell weapon, perchance, devised by the Dark Lord. If it were a thing that gave advantage in battle, I can well believe that Boromir, the proud and fearless, often rash, ever anxious for the victory of Minas Tirith (and his own glory therein), might desire such a thing and be allured by it. Alas that he ever went on that errand! I should have been chosen by my father and the elders, but he put himself forward, as being the older and the hardier (both true), and he would not be stayed.
‘But fear no more! I would not take this thing, if it lay by the highway. Not were Minas Tirith falling in ruin and I alone could save her, so, using the weapon of the Dark Lord for her good and my glory. No, I do not wish for such triumphs, Frodo son of Drogo.’
‘For myself,’ said Faramir, ‘I would see the White Tree in flower again in the courts of the kings, and the Silver Crown return, and Minas Tirith in peace: Minas Anor again as of old, full of light, high and fair, beautiful as a queen among other queens: not a mistress of many slaves, nay, not even a kind mistress of willing slaves. War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend: the city of the Men of Númenor; and I would have her loved for her memory, her ancientry, her beauty, and her present wisdom. Not feared, save as men may fear the dignity of a man, old and wise.’
This is why I love Faramir. Also, I assume these are largely Tolkien’s own thoughts on warfare (and I get a sense of national pride). He’s a poet (or maybe philosopher) by nature, merely a warrior by necessity. Which brings me to my biggest issue with the Two Towers film, Faramir’s jerkification. Again, I understand why they’d feel a need to create more conflict for Frodo and Sam (considering that they shifted the actual climax of Book IV to the last film), but did it have to be at Faramir’s expense? On the other hand, they do include a flashback with him and Boromir in the Extended Edition and it is precious.
One nice thing about this chapter is that Gollum makes himself scarce, although he’s not quite able to avoid the vigilance of the Rangers of Ithilien – one of them obviously spots him, but thought he might be just an animal, so he didn’t try to shoot.him.
Anyhow, they’re able to rest for a bit with Faramir (or at least Frodo does, Sam feels compelled to keep watch), and then they eat with him.
Before they ate, Faramir and all his men turned and faced west in a moment of silence. Faramir signed to Frodo and Sam that they should do likewise.
‘So we always do,’ he said, as they sat down: ‘we look towards Númenor that was, and beyond to Elvenhome that is, and to that which is beyond Elvenhome and will ever be. Have you no such custom at meat?’
‘No,’ said Frodo, feeling strangely rustic and untutored. ‘But if we are guests, we bow to our host, and after we have eaten we rise and thank him.’
‘That we do also,’ said Faramir.
This is pretty nearly the only “religious” ritual we see, and it’s telling that they have such rituals in Gondor. It says that there’s now a distance between them and the spiritual elements of their world, although they still remember a time when it was not so. This is also emphasized by the fact that Faramir admits they have precious little engagement with the Elves anymore, and many fear them (like Boromir), although Faramir himself shows a healthy knowledge and respect for them – something that helps win Sam over (in addition to the wine and food).
‘The Lady of Lórien! Galadriel!’ cried Sam. ‘You should see her, indeed you should, sir. […] Beautiful she is sir! Lovely! Sometimes like a great tree in flower, sometimes like a white daffadowndilly, small and slender like. Hard as di’monds, soft as moonlight. Warm as sunlight, cold as frost in the stars. Proud and far off as a snow-mountain, and as merry as any lass I ever saw with daisies in her hair in springtime. But that’s a lot o’ nonsense, and all wide of my mark.’
‘Then she must be lovely indeed,’ said Faramir. ‘Perilously fair.’
‘I don’t know about perilous,’ said Sam. ‘It strikes me that folk takes their peril with them into Lórien, and finds it there because they’ve brought it. But perhaps you could call her perilous, because she’s so strong in herself. You, you could dash yourself to pieces on her, like a ship on a rock; or drownd yourself, like a hobbit in a river. But neither rock nor river would be to blame. Now Boro-’ He stopped and went red in the face.
‘Yes? Now Boromir you would say?’ said Faramir. ‘What would you say? He took his peril with him?’
Faramir already suspected that something was revealed to Boromir in Lórien, and perhaps that it’s when the conflict between him and Frodo began. Of course, what Galadriel revealed to him was merely the desires of his own heart which he’d managed to ignore until then. But then Sam just blurts out that the “heirloom” in question is the Ring.
‘So that is the answer to all the riddles! The One Ring that was thought to have perished from the world. And Boromir tried to take it by force? And you escaped? And ran all the way – to me! And here in the wild I have you: two halflings, and a host of men at my call, and the Ring of Rings. A pretty stroke of fortune! A chance for Faramir, Captain of Gondor, to show his quality! Ha!’ He stood up, very tall and stern, his grey eyes glinting.
[…] But Faramir sat down in his chair and began to laugh quietly, and then suddenly became grave again.
‘Alas for Boromir! It was too sore a trial!’ he said. ‘How you have increased my sorrow, you two strange wanderers from a far country, bearing the peril of Men! But you are less judges of Men than I of Halflings. We are truth-speakers, we men of Gondor. We boast seldom, and then perform, or die in the attempt. Not if I found it on the highway would I take it I said. Even if I were such a man as to desire this thing, and even though I knew not clearly what this thing was when I spoke, still I should take those words as a vow, and be held by them.
‘But I am not such a man. Or I am wise enough to know that there are some perils from which a man must flee.’
With that, Frodo finally caves and chooses to trust Faramir with the secret of their mission. Faramir in turn is obviously surprised, but seems to take it in stride.
‘Ah well, sir,’ said Sam, ‘you said my master had an elvish air; and that was good and true. But I can say this: you have an air too, sir, that reminds me of, of – well, Gandalf, of wizards.’
‘Maybe,’ said Faramir. ‘Maybe you discern from far away the air of Númenor.’
Until next time…