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Éomer - Growing Up
The transformation of the hobbits in The Fellowship of the Ring

Growing up. The end of the innocence. It happens to everybody, whether they like it or not. There are some wonderful times, there are some horrible times. And once you become an adult, you’ll never see things the same way again.

I’m going to take you on a journey. The journey of growing up, except it’s going to be a little different this time. You’re going to grow up with the hobbits, as they complete the first stage of their perilous quest to destroy the One Ring.


Eating, drinking, partying, relaxing, smoking, and did I mention eating and drinking? Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? That’s what the Shire is like. I mean, come on, they have a birthday party every single day. And on their birthday, hobbits give everybody else presents, not the other way around.

The Shire is like a kindergartner’s dream. And that’s what the hobbits of the Shire are like. Kindergartners. Remember how innocent you were in kindergarten? How fun life was? Every day was a joy. Just like life in the Shire. The hobbits have no inkling of what really takes place in the outside world. Yeah, they get news from dwarves and other travelers, but what they’re told doesn’t amount to much. And if it does, well, they just ignore it and figure that it won’t have any impact on their lives - just like kindergartners. But as they say, all good things must come to an end, and they will for the Shire, for a little while at least. But we won’t get into that here.

Anyway, Bilbo has his big party, vanishes in mid-air, and leaves Frodo the Ring. Gandalf tells Frodo some not-so-nice things, and Frodo leaves the Shire. On with the story.

When the hobbits first set out, Frodo’s like a seventh-grader, and the others are like third-graders. You see, Frodo knows a few things. He converses with elves and hears Bilbo’s stories and reads his book. And, of course, he has heard a brief history of the Ring from Gandalf. But although he knows these things, he doesn’t have full knowledge, and he is as in the dark about some things as the others are.

The others (Merry, Pippin, and Sam, that is) are curious about a great many things. That’s why I say they’re like third-graders. They know more than the kindergartners, but not a whole lot more. Also, they look up to Frodo, as a third-grader would look up to a seventh-grader: with respect and admiration.

Sam is the most curious. He’s the eager to get out into the world and see new things. He knows most, if not all, of what Frodo has been told about the Ring. Quickbeam was right on the money last March when he said the books are "All About Sam." He matures more than any other hobbit.

Now it’s time to really start to grow up. It’s time for your first kiss. Remember that first kiss? How sweet it was? Well, the hobbits have a first kiss too, although it’s of a different kind. Frodo, of course, got his years ago, as he is a much more mature hobbit, but for the others, this is their first. And what a first it is–they meet the elves:

Sam could never describe in words, nor picture clearly to himself, what he felt or thought that night, though it remained in his memory as one of the chief events of his life.

Sounds pretty much like your first kiss, huh? You can’t describe it, you’ll never forget it, and it seems like Tolkien took the words right out of your mouth. Never thought of it that way, did you?

Well, after that the hobbits travel a ways and meet a funny guy named Tom who likes to sing and a lovely river-daughter who turns their heads upside down with her beauty. Then they get to Bree.

Bree is something new to all of them. It’s like starting high school. It’s big, way different than anything else they have ever been to, and a little rough around the edges. It even has a couple of bullies. And Black Riders, the meanies.

Well, Frodo and the gang meet a Ranger known as Strider, find out he is really Gandalf’s friend Aragorn, and invite him to join their company. They travel some, have a few close encounters, get a little older and wiser, and arrive at Rivendell.

Rivendell is like your sophomore year of high school. You’re finally getting used to things and finding out a lot more than you knew was out there. Some of the things in high school are getting to be pretty fun, and if you forget all of the bad stuff, you’re okay. And every once in a while, something new and wonderful comes up. Something like Rivendell. The Hobbit says it best, when one of the elves sees Bilbo on a pony and says, "Most astonishing wonderful!"

Those three words describe Rivendell perfectly, although they aren’t meant to. Rivendell is beautiful, but that’s beside the point. Rivendell is home to elves. Elves. Can you imagine being in a settlement of elves? The fair folk? The Firstborn Children of Illúvatar? I would give anything to go to Rivendell, as I’m sure most of you would too. What an honor that must be, to be among the elves. A very great honor.

Eleventh grade. Your junior year of high school. Everybody seems crazy, and you try to do the right thing, but when it comes right down to it, you’re not even sure what the right thing is anymore. But sometimes, you do do the right thing, and it changes your life. Sort of like Frodo does at the Council of Elrond.

At last with an effort he spoke, and wondered to hear his own words, as if some other will was using his small voice.

‘I will take the Ring,’ he said, ‘though I do not know the way.’

Looks like Frodo just turned eighteen. He’s being very courageous, and he’s taken loads of responsibility onto himself. This guy’s growing up pretty fast. All of the hobbits are, if you think about it. More courageous, more responsible, and more knowledgeable about the way the world works than when they left the Shire, not to mention less carefree and innocent. They’re turning into adults. Scary, isn’t it?

Well, the hobbits set off on their long and perilous quest, and take along a few traveling companions. Their buddy Aragorn, Gandalf, a dwarf by the name of Gimli, an elf called Legolas, and a big guy from Gondor named Boromir. All the Free Peoples of the world are represented–sort of like the Olympics, except they sure aren’t competing for a gold medal.

So the Ring goes south, and the Company heads for Moria. The hobbits are beginning to realize the enormity of the task that lays ahead of them. Frodo has a close call with a clutching tentacle, but everybody gets inside safely. That’s when things start to get hard.

Imagine this: you’re in the deepest, darkest place in the whole world. There’s nothing but blackness and a faint glimmer from a magical staff. You have to place all of your trust in your leader, and you have no idea where he’s leading you. Bet you’re pretty afraid, aren’t you?

The Company did this and more. They showed tremendous courage and trust in navigating Moria. The hobbits experienced their first fight with orcs, and the Company had a very close call with a Balrog, during which Gandalf seemed to be killed. Can you imagine losing your leader like that, when you’re not even close to completing your quest? That would be terrible. But the hobbits came through okay, yet again showing tremendous courage. Frodo was almost a man by this time, and the others weren’t far behind him.

After escaping from Moria, the Company traveled to Lothlórien, the Golden Wood. Lothlórien was a wonderful place of refuge after the scare in Moria. It’s best described in the words of Legolas and Aragorn:

‘Lothlórien!’ cried Legolas. ‘Lothlórien! We have come to the eaves of the Golden Wood.’

‘Lothlórien!’ said Aragorn. ‘Glad I am to hear again the wind in the trees!’

And one mustn’t forget Galadriel. In the words of Gimli:

‘The lady Galadriel is above all the jewels that lie beneath the earth!’

Beautiful, regal, tall, and above all else, pure, Galadriel is beyond words. She summoned the White Council, for crying out loud. Does that tell you how powerful she was? Good thing she’s on the Company’s side. She’s a light in the darkness, a beacon of all that’s good. She’s a queen, in every sense of the word.

Then comes the Mirror. Sam and Frodo both see horrible images, and Frodo gets his first look at the Eye. Both hobbits start to realize how bad things are getting, and they mature even more at this point. Sam finally realizes that there’s no going back.

With heavy hearts, the Company leaves Lothlórien with gifts from Galadriel and sets sail down the Anduin. They travel a ways, and discover that they’re being followed by Gollum. They see no more of him, though, and decide he’s either being very wary or he’s gone.

Aragorn doesn’t realize how far the Company’s traveled down the Anduin, and they find themselves caught in the rapids with orcs coming near. They succeed in getting out of the boat, and Legolas shoots down a great winged creature (I wonder what that was?). The Company is safe at the moment.

Two days later the Company passes Argonath. That night they come into sight of Tol Brandir, and Sting faintly glows, showing that orcs are near. The next morning, Frodo climbs Amon Hen and sits on a stone in the midst of a grassy place. Boromir comes "to talk" and tries to take the Ring from Frodo. Frodo puts on the Ring and runs.

This event is something that happens all too often in our lives. Someone you consider a friend gets power hungry and jealous of you, and they betray your trust. Life would be so much better if we didn’t come into contact with people like this. Sadly, Frodo learns the hard way. But still, it is easy to sympathize with Boromir. After all, he’s only trying to do what he thinks is the right thing, which is how so many good intentions turn bad. This situation is a sad one, but it’s a big part of growing up.

Frodo runs to the summit, and sits in an ancient chair on a wide, flat circle paved with flags: the Seat of Seeing. He sees war everywhere, and then he sees Barad-dûr, the Fortress of Sauron. Pretty scary sight. Then he sees the Eye–and takes the Ring off.

He makes the huge decision to continue the journey alone, leaving his friends behind. This is when Frodo truly becomes a man. He’s willing to take the burden of destroying the One Ring on himself, in order to make sure his friends don’t get hurt. He slips on the Ring and leaves. This is one of the most courageous acts ever, period.

Boromir comes back and tells the others what happened in his words. They realize something is wrong, and when Frodo doesn’t come back, everybody goes looking for him. Sam tries to follow Aragorn, but he can’t move fast enough. He looks around and sees a boat moving with nobody in it. He realizes it’s Frodo trying to leave the others, and he jumps out into the river to join Frodo. Sam has just performed a remarkable feat of courage and friendship. I only wish we humans could do the same. And by the way, Sam just turned into a man.


You know the rest of the story. Merry and Pippin both go on to become very mature and respectable hobbits. Frodo leaves Middle-earth forever, and Sam finds the one true joy in life when he marries and starts a family of his own. The hobbits are all grown up.

Author’s Note: I hope you enjoyed my article. I have attempted to tell you why The Lord of the Rings is special to me, hopefully in an entertaining and perhaps slightly humorous way. As a teenager in his last few weeks of Junior High School, the subject of growing up is dear to me. Maybe you feel the same about it, maybe you don’t. But I know one thing for sure: we all love this book.


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