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Notes on Return of the King Themes

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Return of the King Topic Tracking: Sacrifice

Book 5, Chapter 5

Sacrifice 1: Denethor sends his son to defend Osgillath not because there is a hope that Faramir might hold the city, but because there needs to be a valiant, if not suicidal stand to delay the armies that will surely outnumber the small force there. The city council advises against this because they know that Faramir will be able to defend the city better than anyone else. Denethor, however, has already decided that the city is going to fall. Faramir goes to Osgillath well aware of the fact that he might die.

Book 5, Chapter 6

Sacrifice 2: The army of Rohan rides tirelessly day and night knowing that Gondor is in serious peril. They trust the wild men and finally make it within sight of the city. Theoden fears that it may be too late, but he decides at the last minute to fight to the death and he rides off with no concern for his own life as his men speed behind him.

Book 5, Chapter 7

Sacrifice 3: Theoden, an old but brave king, uses his final strength to strike down one of the leaders of the enemy. This bravery was paid for with his life. Eowyn sacrifices herself to kill the Captain of the Nazgul. When she faces him she is ready to die. Merry distracts the beast with his own brave risk and together they bring him down. Both heroes suffer terribly for their acts of daring.

Book 5, Chapter 8

Sacrifice 4: Denethor is sure that the end is coming. He has been blinded by his stares into the palantir. He is willing to sacrifice his son and himself so they will not have to suffer the horror of a world ruled by Mordor. Gandalf is not willing to allow Denethor to make this decision for his son but he does allow Denethor to take his own life.

Book 5, Chapter 9

Sacrifice 5: If the ring is not destroyed by the time they attack the gates of Mordor, the men of Gondor will have no chance of defeating the hosts of the enemy. Aragorn and Gandalf are aware of this but they know that it is just as important to risk all of the men to distract Sauron and perhaps give Frodo some extra time to carry out his quest.

Book 5, Chapter 10

Sacrifice 6: In the face of the gates of Mordor, Pippin knows how real is the threat of death. He does not flinch, but instead he strengthens his conviction and willfully faces his death. Every man in the army of Gondor does the same thing as the hosts of Mordor swarm upon them from every side.

Book 6, Chapter 2

Sacrifice 7: The quest to destroy the ring is a quintessential sacrifice from its inception. With every step, Sam and Frodo sacrifice more of their life and energy. At the last moment, when Sam thinks they are about to be recognized by the orcs, he prepares himself to die fighting to protect Frodo.

Book 6, Chapter 3

Sacrifice 8: Sam is well aware that they will not survive before the mission is complete; there is not enough food to get them to the mountain and back. They will either be caught and killed immediately or they will starve to death on the side of the mountain. At the end, Gollum dies to destroy the ring, and Frodo loses his finger. Sam and Frodo huddle together to wait for the end of their lives.

Book 6, Chapter 5

Sacrifice 9: One of the most profound sacrifices in The Lord of the Rings is understated as it happens. Arwen, an elf, is immortal, but this immortality means that she must leave the lands of men and go over the sea. Instead of choosing everlasting life, she chooses a remarkably shorter life to be with Aragorn.

Book 6, Chapter 8

Sacrifice 10: The hobbits are willing to sacrifice their lives to get the menace of Sharkey out of the Shire. Saruman was planning on killing Frodo but this revenge is foiled. Instead, Saruman ends up sacrificing his own life because of his cruelty to Grima.

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