Boromir's Brother

by Varda

Samwise Gamgee's father always told him he'd 'come to a bad end' if he wasn't careful, and Sam is always aware of his 'place' and tries to stay in it. But he fails. Sooner or later everyone in the book gets a piece of Sam's mind. The only person who tells him to shut up is Boromir's brother, Faramir.

It is an irony, because Faramir is the soul of courtliness and gives the impression of the high N?menorean lineage of the Stewards and Kings of Gondor in his behaviour even more than Boromir, who is too headstrong, or Aragorn, who is too driven. But Faramir this time is himself driven; Frodo and Sam have fallen into his hands in Ithilien, and Faramir knows that his brother is dead, and that Frodo knows about it. And although Boromir pushed Faramir aside to claim the errand to Rivendell, Faramir loved Boromir, and wants to know the truth about his brother's death...

And so occurred Frodo's 'Trial' in Ithilien. Sam dozes off and wakes up to find Frodo standing in a circle of the Men of Gondor, questioned by Faramir. Sam's heart nearly bursts. Here is his beloved master, after all his sufferings, being interrogated by the very people he is trying to save. Sam throws himself into the circle and with a quick by your leave to Frodo, who doesn't try to stop him, lays into Faramir. And Faramir more or less tells him to shut his mouth. But gently and without anger. He points out to Sam that he has orders to kill anything that moves in Ithilien, but spared them because he does not kill without reason, and then unwillingly. And later on he tries to win Frodo's trust by saying he would not try to trap even an orc with a lie.

There are many heroes in The Lord Of The Rings, but Faramir is the only one unwilling to lie even to an orc, and who kills unwillingly when he has to kill at all. He treats Frodo with great kindness but absolute justice, and Sam had no cause to really worry, because as in L?rien, Frodo is doing all right, answering Faramir's questions cleverly and honestly. But Faramir has insight and perception and guesses that somehow Frodo presented Boromir with a test he could not pass. And resolves to succeed where his brother failed. He swears an oath to Frodo not to touch whatever it is he carries. When he finds out, from the unfortunate Sam, that this is the Enemy's Ring, he keeps his promise. A very surprised Sam tells him that he has proved his quality, that of the highest. Faramir is about to laugh, then stops, remembering that Sam too is of the same quality, and thanks him instead.

Faramir does not want Frodo and Sam to go on into Mordor. He has a kind heart and quickly falls for the hobbits. He looks at Frodo with 'grave astonishment' when he learns what his mission is. If as Mirthwood says, Frodo is a catalyst for the characters around him, he shows up Faramir as pure good. In the end Frodo only forces him to let them go by holding up the awful vision of Minas Tirith ruined as the only alternative.

Faramir gets some of the best lines in the book. When he bids farwell to the hobbits he says he does not think they will meet again 'on any day under this sun'.

Faramir's just and compassionate treatment of Frodo and Sam burns all the more brightly because he receives little justice and no compassion from his own family. Faramir should have gone to Rivendell, but Boromir pushed him aside and claimed the errand. Faramir did not resent it, he loved his brother in spite of everything, but you know it was not the first time this has happened. When Faramir reports to his father Denethor about Frodo the old man storms at him, but once again you just know Faramir can do nothing right. Boromir was the favourite and Faramir can never rival him in the old man's eyes. In a bitter row Denethor finally tells Faramir that he wishes he HAD gone instead of Boromir; and the implication, had died instead of Boromir.

All Faramir wanted was his father's approval and now he knows he will never get it. He knows nothing about the baleful influence of the Palant?r on Denethor. He resolves on suicide in battle. Gandalf guesses his intent and tries to speak to him as he leaves but in his head Faramir is already out on the battlefield.

Faramir as a character has an advantage over Aragorn in the book because we see him from the first surrounded by his warriors, who worship him, or the people of Gondor, who also revere him. So we see him through their eyes. But he only cares for what his father thinks, and goes out too far in the battle and like his brother is shot by an arrow and only saved from being hacked to pieces by a desperate sortie. Boromir is shot down by orcs, brutes. But ironically Faramir, the most humane and thoughtful of heroes, is shot down by men, misled and cruel but human beings nonetheless.

When Aragorn tries to heal Faramir he can't understand why he is so sick, the wound is not that bad. But Faramir does not want to get better. Like some of the heroes in The Lord Of The Rings he has been gripped by a suicidal despair. Gandalf thinks it is the Enemy getting at them, but it is also unique to the life of the character as well. Eowyn seeks death in battle because of Aragorn. Faramir because of Denethor. Even Sam thinks about killing himself, when he believes he has really lost Frodo. He looks at the sharp edge of his sword then decides it would be worse than doing nothing, and it is Sam's nature always to do something, to try, to hope even when everyone around him is giving up. But Faramir has not got that hobbit resilience. His return to the light is slower. Faramir can't win; if Gondor falls the Enemy will destroy him first. if Aragorn succeeds, he is out of a job. He is even bested in love, Eowyn really wants Aragorn. Aragorn's generous settlement does not yet live in his expectations.

Frodo says to Faramir in Ithilien that he never looked for such friendship as Faramir showed to him. It is part of the book's symnetry that having shown Frodo and Sam such kindness Faramir's life is saved by a hobbit, and a Took at that, not foolish this time but the fastest of the four, racing down the wartorn streets of Gondor to bring Gandalf to rescue Faramir from the flames of his father's funeral pyre.

Apologies to all fans of Faramir, Aragorn and Sam, particularly lengthy and witless musings.....sorry for the many mistakes.