The Fellowship of the Ring

The Fellowship of the Ring

by

J.R.R. Tolkien

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The Fellowship of the Ring: Book 1, Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
When Frodo regains consciousness, he is clutching the Ring in his hand and lying beside the fire. His friends are overjoyed that he is awake, sharing the news that the Black Riders retreated at Strider’s fiery attack, but that Strider has also disappeared for the past hour. The Ranger then startles them with his return, explaining that he has been trying to discover the Black Riders’ movements.
The hobbits are thankful that Frodo awakens, while Strider judges them safe enough to try to leave briefly and search for information on the Black Riders.
Themes
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When Strider learns of Frodo’s wound, he is gravely concerned, especially when he later discovers the hilt of the weapon used to pierce Frodo’s shoulder. Strider recognizes it as a cursed blade—its influence will soon permanently corrupt Frodo. Strider finds a plant named “athelas” that he uses to treat the hobbit’s wound, although it will not stop the curse for long.
Frodo has been stabbed by an evil blade that spiritually as well as physically harms the hobbit. Strider demonstrates some proficiency in healing, adding to his already apparent strengths in navigation and combat.
Themes
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At daybreak the next morning, Strider and the hobbits hasten from Weathertop toward Rivendell. For approximately ten days they struggle through the wilderness, with Frodo’s wound growing increasingly worse. The group keeps away from the road as much as possible, fearing another encounter with Black Riders. Their chilling journey is interrupted only by Strider finding a hopeful token as they approach a bridge—it is a green elf-stone jewel that has been placed on the road—as well as the party’s stumbling upon three stone trolls. These are the very same creatures that Bilbo, Gandalf, and the dwarves had outwitted at the beginning of their journey to the Lonely Mountain long ago. The reminder brings brief cheer to the hobbits.
It is essential that Frodo reaches the elf-haven Rivendell for treatment of his dire wound. Strider’s discovery of the green elf-stone symbolizes his destiny as a future king who is knows as “Elessar,” or “Elf-stone,” although readers are unaware of his heritage at this stage of the novel. Finally, the group find by chance creatures from a more recent myth (Bilbo’s experiences in The Hobbit) when they strangely happen upon the three stone trolls.
Themes
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Strider and his charges are forced to return to the road for the final leg of their journey to Rivendell. Hiding at the sound of hoof beats coming fast from behind them, they are amazed to be discovered by Glorfindel—a powerful elf-lord, well-known to Strider, who has been sent by Elrond to aid their party’s journey. It was he who left the elf-stone token before the bridge. As Frodo’s health declines, Glorfindel places him atop his horse so that Frodo can race ahead if they are attacked by the Black Riders. Frodo is unwilling to leave his friends, but Glorfindel reminds him that the Riders are focused on pursuing only the Ring-bearer—the others will be safe.
Frodo’s loyalty and selflessness in remaining with his friends through danger is only trumped by Glorfindel’s rationale that Frodo can better protect them by actually drawing the Black Riders away. Once again a powerful external force appears to help the hobbits on their way.
Themes
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For the next two days, Glorfindel and Strider push the hobbits hard toward safety. As they approach the Ford of Bruinen that borders Rivendell’s lands, five Black Riders burst into pursuit behind the party. Glorfindel commands his horse to run forward with Frodo, and the swift steed manages to evade four more Black Riders who appear from Frodo’s side to cut off his escape. Sauron’s nine servants race after the hobbit, and their power over Frodo and the Ring wills the hobbit to pause and look back after he has crossed the Ford of Bruinen.
Frodo is close to being overcome by the evil of the Black Riders and the Ring, despite having almost reached the safety of Rivendell. The full strength of the Black Riders is bent on turning him to their will and recovering the Ring.
Themes
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The foremost Black Rider walks to the edge of the Ford and commands Frodo to return to meet them. The hobbit retaliates by invoking the names of Elbereth and Lúthien, but is struck silent when the Riders begin to cross the Ford. The enemy is almost upon Frodo when great waves of foaming white riders and horses come rushing down the River Bruinen. The magical waves sweep away the Black Riders who are in the middle of the river, and the rest of the dark creatures’ steeds bear them into the rushing current, mad with fear. After seeing all nine of the Black Riders swept away, Frodo falls from his own horse, unconscious.
Once again Frodo rallies his courage and invokes the names of ancient Elvish beings to protect him from harm. He is rescued not through his own design but by magic belonging to Elrond and Gandalf. The hobbits have required regular rescue and guidance during their escape from the Shire. The end of this book marks a change in this pattern, as they learn to rely on themselves as well as others. Overall, Frodo’s general lack of power has actually been an asset, because he is less likely to be tempted by the Ring’s dark influence.
Themes
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Courage, Heroism, and Selflessness Theme Icon
History and Myth Theme Icon