That night, while camping on the lawn at the foot of Amon Hen, Aragorn and Frodo see from Sting’s blade that there are orcs some way off. After breakfast the next morning, Aragorn calls the Company together to discuss their next move. No one is able to make a compelling decision, so Aragorn lets Frodo as Ring-bearer make the choice. The hobbit requests an hour to reflect on the matter, walking away from the group to think. Sam notices that Boromir watches Frodo intently.
Like Gandalf, Aragorn—currently leading the Fellowship—lets others make crucial choices about the wellbeing of Middle-earth. Here, it becomes Frodo’s choice to decide which path the Fellowship should take from Amon Hen. Despite the Ranger’s own destiny foretold in prophecy, Tolkien also uses Aragorn as a character who champions the power of free will.
Meandering about the hill, Frodo finds himself climbing to a pretty spot on the hill of Amon Hen. While considering the many events that have occurred in the journey of the Ring so far, Frodo is startled by Boromir’s sudden appearance. The man of Gondor states that he has followed Frodo to protect him if any danger arises.
Frodo seems to be wasting time as he wanders about Amon Hen. He is likely attempting to delay his inevitable choice—his fate—to bear the Ring to Mordor alone.
They discuss the Ring-bearer’s looming decision, with Frodo admitting that he knows the difficult road he must take, although he is afraid of it. Boromir once more argues for the Ring to travel to Gondor, but Frodo has a strong feeling that he cannot take an easy or safe road—it is his responsibility to bear the Ring directly into Mordor itself. Boromir fixates on the mention of the Ring, and asks if he can see it. Frodo is wary and refuses to bring it out. The Captain of Gondor begins to rant about the glory and success that he could achieve if he was able to use the powerful weapon. Upset that Frodo will not let him have it or even borrow it, Boromir angrily leaps at Frodo to take the Ring by force. The frightened hobbit slips on the Ring to escape by disappearing from sight.
The narrator confirms that Frodo needs time to steel his nerves to begin the dangerous journey onward. He also feels that he should travel alone in order to spare his companions the terrible danger. Frodo’s moral integrity sharply contrasts Boromir’s betrayal of the Fellowship. The Captain of Gondor’s surrender to his lust for power suggests that the strongest and bravest individuals of Middle-earth are not necessarily the most heroic—instead it is the humble Frodo who persistently rejects the Ring’s evil power by embracing his fears and weaknesses. Elrond and Gandalf’s advice to Boromir in Rivendell has not been heeded, and the man has fallen to momentary evil in the false belief that he can wield the Ring to protect his country.
Frodo races away from Boromir, eventually reaching the summit of Amon Hen. He stops fortuitously at the ancient Seat of Seeing, taking in the views around him. The hobbit is still wearing the Ring, which allows him to view regions near and far; everywhere there are signs of war. Frodo’s use of the Ring draws the malevolent attentions of Sauron’s great eye, and the hobbit only removes the Ring just in time to avoid being detected at Amon Hen.
The narrative takes a sudden turn to widen the scope of Frodo’s perspective (and the reader’s), as Frodo’s heightened vision reveals Sauron’s rising power across the world. Gathering armies convince Frodo that he needs to act on his decision to travel to Mordor at once. Once again, he manages to resist the lure of the Ring and avoids detection by a foe that is far mightier than he is.
Meanwhile, in his wild lust to take the Ring from Frodo, Boromir has tripped onto his face. The fall shocks him into reality, and he cries out to Frodo, apologizing for the fit of madness that had overtaken him. Unable to find the hobbit, he returns to the rest of the Company. He states that he has tried to convince Frodo to take the Ring to Gondor, upon which the hobbit used the Ring to evade him. Sam realizes that Boromir is not telling the whole truth, and the panicked Company runs in numerous directions looking for Frodo. Aragorn, trying to keep them together, charges Boromir with following and protecting Merry and Pippin, while he chases after Sam.
After coming to his senses, Boromir tells half-truths to the Fellowship to avoid facing the consequences of his actions, but Sam is shrewd enough to read the situation. In the frenzy that follows, Aragorn’s focus on protecting the hobbits again shows that heroism is founded on selflessness and the bonds of fellowship in taking care of others. This is ultimately what distinguishes Aragorn from the similar character of Boromir: although both men are great warriors and leaders dedicated to protecting their people, Aragorn’s actions are genuinely driven by the needs of those around him, whereas Boromir’s commitment to protect Gondor is matched by his desire for personal acclaim and glory.
Aragorn easily catches up to Sam and tells him to follow him up Amon Hen to find Frodo. Using his head, though, Sam realizes that Frodo will not want to endanger any of the Company and will leave for Mordor alone. Racing back to where the Fellowship left their gear, Sam is just in time to catch Frodo immediately after he launches a boat for the eastern shore. In fact, Sam throws himself into the river (despite his inability to swim and his great fear of drowning) to attempt to reach Frodo, who is some distance offshore already. Frodo hauls the drowning Sam out of the river; he is glad to accept Sam’s firm declaration that he is going with him to destroy the Ring.
Frodo and Sam, who throughout the journey have largely been dependent on their companions for guidance and protection, voluntarily enter great peril alone in their desire to save their friends from danger while completing the noble quest to destroy the Ring. Sam’s loyalty to Frodo trumps his own desire for self-preservation: here he literally demonstrates that he is ready to risk his life for his friend.
While the rest of the Company are scattered around the hillside of Amon Hen, the two hobbits successfully cross the River Anduin. They land their boat on the shore, concealing the vessel behind a large boulder. With a range of grey hills before them, they begin seeking a path to take the Ring into perilous lands toward Mordor. The Fellowship is broken, but the quest to destroy the Ring continues.
In considering the role of a hero, Tolkien demonstrates that a person’s strength and courage is not determined by their stature, skills, or talents. Indeed, The Fellowship of the Ring relates the story of how the most unlikely of characters can be central to the fate of a world. Frodo and Sam’s final scene mirrors their actions at the beginning of The Fellowship in choosing to undertake a journey of great risk. Their courage is admirable in that now, the stakes have been raised and each hobbit has knowledge of the terrifying and likely deadly dangers ahead. Their moral integrity makes them heroes. The novel ends on a daunting note, but not without hope: the Fellowship is split into two groups, but they remain committed to the fight against Sauron’s evil.