So we stood on the quay with Sam and Merry and Pippen and watched Frodo and Bilbo sail away with Gandalf, Elrond and Galadriel, at the end of The Return of the King. For my son’s second time and my thirteenth or fourteenth.
And when I reached the last sentence and the trilogy we’d been using for bedtime stories for most of his seventh year was over, Mr. B. said he wanted to start all over again with The Hobbit. I said I needed a break of a day or two. Much as I love Tolkien’s melodic prose, particularly his descriptions of the landscape in the turn of the seasons, reading him aloud takes some work.
But there’s a definite payoff. I finally got the names down to where I could pronounce them as J. R. R. intended. And it’s undeniable that Mr. B. got a certain far-away dreamy look listening to these adventures that he didn’t even with Narnia and Treasure Island. Then there is the reward of his admission, a few days ago, that despite enjoying the LoTR movies, which he had watched over and over again, he’d decided that he really preferred the books.
Sam and Frodo are treking across the fumes and sinks of Mordor in the last few leagues to Mt. Doom, and Mr. Boy and I are accompanying them for his second time and my, uh, sixth, I think. I am struck again by the depth of Sam’s tenderness for ring-burdened Frodo. Post-movie in my case, and recalling reading elsewhere that what little of it there was in the movie raised questions about Sam’s sexual preferences. Despite Rosie Cotton waiting at home. In the book, where it comes up every few paragraphs, it seems like brotherly affection, or perhaps kindly servant and beloved master, and the criticism seems petty. Mr. B. soaks it all up, transfixed by Tolkien’s careful descriptions of the terrain and the weather and the orc armies and the power of the eye, momentarily distracted, although it might also be the sound of my voice reading aloud. Much as I liked the movie and plan to watch it with him one of these days, I’ll put it off as long as possible, so the words continue a while longer to build pictures in his mind, pictures unconstrained by the movie images, let alone, for now, the adult preoccupations. His interest in Narnia, for instance, profound when it was on the page, diminished significantly after seeing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It wasn’t a bad movie. It’s just too confining.
Mom is finishing up the tubby and it’s almost time for my nightly installment of "The Fellowship of the Ring" for a rapt six-year-old who is not jaded after Power Rangers, Yu Gi Oh, Star Wars and more. In fact, he was rapt for "Treasure Island," "The Chronicles of Narnia," and "The Hobbit." So the first book of the trilogy, while waxing a trifle lush at times with the images, nevertheless is a hit.
Attercop, attercop, old tomnonny!
UPDATE But first there was a hunt for Miss Ellie, the tattered stuffed elephant who is Mr. Boy’s spirit animal, as it were. He will often ask me to put her away when a friend of his comes to play, but he still can’t sleep without her.