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While Aragorn’s group hunts for the hobbits, Pippin and
Merry lie captive in the Orc camp, bound hand and foot. Pippin has
a dark dream in which he calls out to Frodo but sees only Orcs around
him. Pippin recalls the great battle in which Boromir appeared,
at first causing great fear among the Orcs, but then unable to summon
any other warriors with his horn. Pippin’s last memory of the battle
is of seeing Boromir trying to pull an arrow out of his own body.
Pippin regrets that Gandalf ever asked him to come along, as he
feels like little more than a burden.
Pippin hears the Orcs talking among themselves. One orc
asks why the hobbits cannot simply be killed. Another answers that orders
have been given not to kill, search, or plunder the hobbits; they
must be captured alive. Pippin is aware that the two orcs are speaking
the Common Tongue, as the different Orc tribes cannot understand
one another. Nevertheless, he notes that the various Orcs sometimes
lapse back into their native tongue when speaking with their own;
in these instances, he cannot follow their speech, which sounds
angry and snarling to him.
There is apparently some hostility among the various Orc
tribes. Uglúk, an orc from the Uruk-hai clan, is proud to call himself
the servant of Saruman the Wise, the White Hand. The other orc insults Saruman,
and a fight breaks out in which one orc dies, falling on top of
Pippin. Pippin is able to rub his hand bindings against the blade
of the fallen orc’s knife, thus freeing his hands. Not noticing
that Pippin’s hands are free, Uglúk orders the hobbits to move quickly
in march with the rest of the Orc horde. Suddenly, the hobbits are snatched
up by the Isengard Orcs, who double their speed and pull out ahead
of the others. The Isengard Orcs attempt to leave behind the other
Orcs, who pursue them unsuccessfully.
Finally losing the other Orcs, the Isengard Orcs, stop
to give Pippin and Merry Orc-liquor, which allows them to march
a long distance. The Orcs halt and throw Pippin to the ground. They
begin to search the bodies of the two hobbits, believing Pippin
and Merry to be the possessors of the Ring. The hobbits demand to
be untied before they will offer anything to Grishnákh, the Isengard
orc who is searching them.
Suddenly, a rider appears and kills the hobbits’ Orc captor.
Pippin and Merry lie frightened on the ground, covered by their
Elf cloaks, which make them invisible. They eat some lembas cakes
to regain their energy, and they decide to leave an Elf-brooch behind
in the hopes that a rescuer might find it (as Aragorn indeed finds
it later). The hobbits flee into the woods, not seeing that the
rider kills Uglúk.
Our first glimpse of the hobbits in this volume of the
novel is dark and troubling: Pippin and Merry are bound and captive,
tormented and mistreated by their captors. In light of their small
size, they are treated like pieces of baggage—carried around, picked
up, and flung down without any courtesy. Pippin overhears several
orcs wondering why they should take so much trouble for the sake
of the hobbits, instead of simply killing them. Once again, the
hobbits are a far cry from the traditional picture of heroism; they
are important to the Orcs, but only as suspected bearers of the
Ring, not as characters or identities in their own right. Even Pippin’s
self-liberation from the Orcs’ bonds is not an act of courage, but
a bit of very good luck: the dying orc falls in such a way that
his knife rubs up against Pippin’s hand bindings.
Despite the hobbits’ ignoble introduction, however, their
positive characteristics emerge clearly. Pippin begins the chapter
dreaming that he is calling out for Frodo, reminding us of the strong
bond among the four hobbits—the bond that Gandalf predicts will
count for much when he argues for Pippin and Merry’s inclusion in
the Fellowship in the previous volume of the novel. Though Pippin
and Merry never complain about the physical hardships they undergo, they
do suffer when they are out of contact with each other. The narrator
describes the hobbits’ great sense of relief when they are near enough
to each other to talk quietly for a while, taking pleasure in the
simple camaraderie of being together even when bound and in captivity.
The importance of camaraderie is emphasized through contrast, in
the the almost total absence of it among the Orcs. The Orcs simply
do not get along well together, squabbling constantly and at times
even fatally. Their frequent lapses into their native Orc dialects,
incomprehensible to the Orcs of different tribes, is one sign of how
little the creatures care about communication and unity with each
other. The Isengard tribe’s betrayal of the other Orcs is the most
obvious example of this disunity, but we see considerable quarreling
and dislike even within the Isengard tribe itself. We see the Isengarders
snarling at each other in their camp, cursing each other with a
bitterness that we would expect from enemies, not cohorts. When
Pippin is being searched, he senses that his searcher might be attempting
to double-deal his companions and seize the Ring for himself. While
the two hobbits would do anything for one another, the Orcs seem
barely able to hold together long enough to accomplish their kidnapping
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Two Towers!