The micro-fellowship tramps their way across a ridge, climbing to nearly 1,000 feet. This marks the start of their sixth day out from Bree. It’s October 5th and they’ve been on the road for thirteen days now.
Before we get into the third part of the Trotter/Strider story, I’d like you to read a Trotter/Strider story. Though these two characters ended up being the same person, they were, of course, different characters. What if they had met? And what if that meeting was … well, just take a look at the tale spun by sj at Snobbery blog.
Barliman had changed. Bob and Nob were still hobbits, but Butterbur was definitely different. Trotter stared at the Pony’s proprietor over his pipe, wondering when life in Bree had changed so much. The bearded hobbit downed the last of his drink and headed to his room at the back of the inn.
He kicked his wooden shoes into the corner and made for his bed, maybe tomorrow the group he was waiting for would arrive.
A Man stepped from the shadows. His face was similar to the one Trotter saw in the mirror, but this was no hobbit. The stranger with his face removed his belt and dropped it to the ground. The sound of his sword hitting the floor was different, as though it were not all in one piece. Before Trotter could puzzle over the meaning behind this, the swarthy stranger began to speak.
“We’re being revised. I’ll be taking your place. You’ll not be a hobbit in the morning, but tonight? Let’s make you a man.”
And now, back to our show…
Thoughts on the Passage – Book I, Chapter 11 (p184 50th Anniv. Ed.)
For the next few days (in our time), the hobbits and Strider will be hiking their way up the Weather Hills. Since there’s not too much going on in this sentence, I’ll finish up the telling of Trotter/Strider/Aragorn. If you’ve missed the first two posts about it, you can find them here and here.
After the so-called third phase of writing, just as he did at the end of the first phase, he took note of his thoughts and projections. It was here that he began to consider the end of the story. In one string of ideas, “Trotter turns out to be Peregrin [Boffin], who had been to Mordor.”
This is a strange, strange story of a hobbit who was only five when Bilbo returned from the Lonely Mountain. He was the grandson of Bilbo’s mother’s second sister (you do the math), but was much more of a Took than a Boffin. Bilbo had an effect on Peregrin Boffin, and the lad grew up idolizing him. He ran away at least once, and then when he was of age, he left the Shire for good. Incidentally, this was about the same time as Frodo became an orphan. All of this was to be the new opening for the story.
After the third phase, but before starting over, Tolkien tried to flesh out the Rivendell material. Here, it was revealed to Frodo that Trotter was Peregrin Boffin. However, a huge and monumental change happened in the middle of this draft.
We’ll let Christopher Tolkien explain it:
“At this point, while in the middle of writing the second text, my father wrote across it: ‘?? Trotter had better not be a hobbit – but a Ranger, remainder of Western Men, as originally planned.'” By “originally planned,” he probably meant originally at the start of the third phase.
Additionally, in a note during the Rivendell writing where he explained that Boromir was to be an an ancient race, Tolkien pens: “Correct this. Only Trotter is of ancient race”
It was after these notes, and before the fourth phase of writing that Tolkien (mostly) figured it out. In an attempt to explain Gandalf’s delay, he fleshed out quite a few other things, Trotter included. In one passage, Gandalf falls in with Trotter. At the end of the paragraph, Tolkien again asks himself “Who is Trotter?”
For about a second, he decided that Trotter was “a disguised elf-friend of Bilbo’s from Rivendell.” (Note: not an Elf friend, but an Elf who was a friend.) He was pretending to be a Ranger. He immediately crossed it out. Bad idea.
But it was in an undated scrap of paper that probably accompanied these writings where Tolkien finally figured out Trotter’s true name – as a Man: Aragorn. “Trotter is a man of Elrond’s race descendant of
Turin the ancient men of the North, and one of Elrond’s household. He was a hunter and a wanderer. He became friend of Bilbo. He knew Gandalf. He was intrigued by Bilbo’s story and found Gollum.”
Continuing, Tolkien reveals: “Aragorn pretends he is a Ranger and hangs about Bree. (He also warns Tom Bombadil.) It was also here that Trotter lost the wooden shoes – “no need in this case because Aragorn is a man.”
Though Tolkien was still not completely finished with the idea that Trotter was a hobbit named Peregrin Boffin, it didn’t take him long to figure it out for good. So by the time of the forth (and final) phase of writing began, Trotter was Aragorn son of Arathorn.
As to when Trotter finally became known as Strider, I believe that was done in the final draft. And thank Eru for that one. Trotter is a stupid name.
A Few Notes:
- Over the past week, I’ve become ridiculously fond of Trotter, the wooden-shoed hobbit. Essentially, I’m happy that Tolkien went the route he did, but I could go for more Trotter tales.
- I write my Tolkien posts while sitting on my couch. Usually, my cat, Juniper Purrito, joins me, curling up by my side. She’s awesome. When she sees me sit down to write, she runs across the room making happy mews at me.
- Hey! Have you seen this bitchin’ Fool of a Took shirt?
About the Photo
Normally, I hate Holgas. But when I got back into film photography, that’s all I had (having not discovered vintage cameras). This was taken atop Rocky Mountain National Park. I have no idea if this is what the Weather Hills look like, but it’s the image I have in my mind.
- Miles today: 5
- Miles thus far: 221
- 20 miles to Weathertop Summit
- 239 miles to Rivendell
- 1,558 miles to Mt. Doom
Today’s stopping place: On a ridge leading to the Weather Hills.(map)