The Fellowship of the Ring

J. R. R. Tolkien
Summary

Book I, Chapter 2 (continued)

Summary Book I, Chapter 2 (continued)

The introduction of Sam provides a note of levity to balance the grim seriousness of the Gollum story and the task assigned to Frodo. Sam belongs to a long line of humorous characters from literature known as buffoons or clowns, characters who are always out of place or getting in the way, but whose simplicity of origin and speech belie a hidden wisdom often expressed comically. Sam’s embarrassment at being caught eavesdropping induces Gandalf to smile—something he rarely does—and endears Sam to us as an ordinary fellow, an unimpressive but well-meaning counterpart to the Hobbit hero. Sam highlights the simple virtues and uncomplicated good intentions that make the Hobbits so easy to love. Moreover, he is drawn into the story of Elves and magic just as we are. He listens at the window in much the same way that we flip the pages of the novel, absorbed by the fascinations of the story. In a sense, Sam is a stand-in for ourselves, reminding us that we too, as far from heroic as Sam is, will get drawn into the tale.