Boromir often gets a bad rap. Sure, he makes a few questionable decisions/inadvertently tries to take over the world, but the redemption attained just before his death is well-deserved. He may be a boastful man, full of doubts, pessimism and pride, but that doesn’t mean he’s not, at least, helpful.
When the Fellowship was stuck in the snow near Redhorn Pass and they could neither go forward nor back, it was Boromir who suggested that he and Aragorn plow a path with their hunky bodies. It’s the weirdly-ridiculous Legolas who returned to the rest of them with news of the freshly-burrowed path.
“There is the greatest wind-drift of all just beyond the turn, and there our Strong Men were almost buried. They despaired, until I returned and told them that the drive was little wider than a wall. And on the other side the snow suddenly grows less, while further down it is no more than a white coverlet to cool a hobbit’s toes.”
Thus far in the story, we’ve not heard much from Legolas, or any Elf, except Elrond. Some, such as C.S. Lewis, complained that there was too much “Hobbit-talk,” but either I never minded it or quickly grew used to it. But I think it’ll be awhile until I’m used to Legolas’ Elf-talk. When I read it, the voice I hear in my head is quick, breathy and sort of higher pitched. It’s really annoying and I hope that I can swap it for another voice someday.
Anyway, back to Boromir. Gimli’s assumption that it was the mountain Caradhras itself that threw the storm at them was, to him, confirmed. It was trying to cut off their escape. But Boromir boasts that “your Caradhras has forgotten that you have Men with you… and doughty Men too, if I may say it,” before slipping in a touch of humility, “though lesser men with spades might have served you better.”
Boromir wasn’t some Greek god snowplow. He did his best and admitted his shortcomings, even allowing that weaker men with the proper tools would have been better. He easily could have said “what need is there for lesser men with spades when you have the doughty chest-shovel of the mighty Boromir?”
He and Aragorn had plowed their way through the drift, but that didn’t mean the path was cleared enough for your average halfling. Pippin spoke up, asking how the hobbits were to make it down.
“‘Have hope!’ said Boromir. ‘I am weary, but I still have some strength left, and Aragorn too. We will bear the little folk.'” Boromir took Pipppin (calling him “Master Peregrin” without an ounce of irony). Aragorn wordlessly took Merry. They carried them through the snow and then came back for Sam and Frodo. As for Gimli the dwarf, he rode with the luggage on poor Bill the pony.
When they finally got down to a less snowy and more “safe” area, two things happened. First, very near to them there was a rock slide. Gimli, still assuming it was the mountain itself once more protesting their trespassing, assured Caradhras that “we are departing as quickly as we may!” And as if the mountain was listening, the slide ended and the snow dwindled and all became relatively pleasant.
The Fellowship was up pretty high in the hills. So high that when they saw the black crows return, they were flying in a valley below them. Here, Gandalf suggests that Gimli’s superstitions were right and that it was probably the mountain that was fighting them. “Whether they [the crows] are good or evil, or have nothing to do with us at all, we must go down at once. Not even on the knees of Caradhras will we wait for another night-fall!”
They stumbled down the mountain and finally came to a rest, but soon they would have to figure out a better plan.
A Few Notes
- I think I blame Robert Inglis and his audio version for my impression of Legolas’ voice. He’s a wonderful reader, but his Legolas is a bit much sometimes.
- In the early drafts, Boromir and Aragorn plow through the snow with hobbits on their backs. Honestly, that’s way cooler.
- The idea that it might be the mountain that was trying to stop them didn’t enter into the drafts until the second version. Originally, it was just a snow storm. As Tolkien wrote, he added personality to everything, even the mountains.
- Aragorn and Boromir – just a couple of hunks.
About the Photo
This is Mt. Index in Washington’s Cascades. To me, it seems like the perfect Caradhras. In the winter months, the storms all through the Cascades, and especially along Stevens Pass, are legendary and incredibly deadly.
- Day 152
- Miles today: 5
- Miles thus far: 751 (297 from Rivendell)
- 43 miles to the Doors of Moria
- 170 miles to Lothlórien
- 1,028 miles to Mt. Doom
Today’s stopping place in the narrative: Book II, Chapter 3. Backing away from Redhorn Gate and finally leaving the trail to move towards Moria. 20th day out of Rivendell. January 12, 3019 TA. (map)