The Two Towers

by: J. R. R. Tolkien

Book IV, Chapter 5

Summary Book IV, Chapter 5

The episode with Faramir also shows us a new side of Frodo. The hobbit has suffered all manner of hardships in the novel, but he has never had to face an interrogation of the sort that Faramir forces upon him. Frodo could easily escape Faramir’s suspicions simply by stating the truth: that Boromir was a traitor who sought possession of the Ring himself, betraying the Fellowship. But Frodo refuses to admit the truth out of regard for Faramir’s honorable memory of his late brother. Of course, Boromir was not completely evil, and for a while he was the solid ally of the hobbits; in this regard, Frodo may be attempting to pay tribute to his former colleague. But the fact remains that, in his conversation with Faramir, Frodo sacrifices his own comfort and honor to preserve the good memory of someone who betrayed him. The nobility of Frodo’s act is impressive indeed. When we watch how well he holds up under pressure from the accusatory Faramir, we develop a deeper respect for the hobbit’s empathy and strength of character.

Faramir’s reaction to the news of his brother’s ignoble behavior is itself highly noble. Faramir does not curse Frodo and Sam as the bearers of bad tidings, nor does he label them liars, unable to believe or process the fact that his beloved elder brother could be capable of treachery. On the contrary, Faramir accepts the hobbits’ story with grace and calm. His acceptance of the distressing truth about his brother may suggest that Faramir is, on some level, well aware of the possibility of good turning to evil in the world. Faramir continues to exhibit this awareness in his touching recount of the fall of Gondor from a land of peace and prosperity to a realm of wickedness and corruption. The inhabitants of Gondor, Faramir explains, grew spoiled by their easy lives, and forgot about the necessity of constantly striving for good and defending themselves against evil. Faramir does not mention his brother in his tale, but indeed we might say the same things about Boromir—a good man who, in the face of temptation, became open to corruption and evil.