Why doesn't Frodo let go?

by Varda

Why doesn't Frodo let go?

..not of the Ring, it had at last managed to overpower him, but of his grip on the cliff.

In the film Sam throws himself down and reaches for Frodo's hand with a look of astonishment; he can't believe that after all they have gone through, all their blood, sweat, toil and tears, Frodo will die when their task has been achieved. It is too unfair, too impossible. He wills Frodo to hang on.

But when Frodo looks up at him there is an expression of complete physical and spiritual exhaustion on his face. He wants Sam to let him go, let him find peace. But Sam is having none of it; Sam is the great survivor, the one who comes home when everyone else perishes. But he is not coming home without Frodo. He swore that to the Elves, if Frodo did not come back, neither would he.

So now Frodo realises Sam will not leave this place, however dreadful, if he himself falls into the fire. So, almost wearily, Frodo reaches for Sam's hand, with his own maimed one, and it must have cost him great pain to grasp his friend's hand and pull himself up. For that is what coming back means for Frodo; pain.

He does have a reward; the joy of seeing the Fellowship again, of seeing Sam wed. But he has grief too, seeing the Shire destroyed, and hobbits killed.

Sam was willing to give up his life for Frodo, but once back in the Shire Sam has a new life and Frodo feels he must decide his own path, and he leaves. There are limits to the claims of friendship on a person's freedom of choice. We must all choose our own path ourselves. For all Sam's love, Frodo is ultimately alone.

In the book it happens a bit differently, but even there Sam persuades Frodo to walk out of the chamber of fire onto a place where the eagles eventually find them. He persuades Frodo to come back to the living. But in the end there is a limit to how far even Sam can carry Frodo, and he leaves for the West to escape pain and darkness.

One of my own favourite moments in the film is where he gives his farewell kiss to Sam, his blessing on his friend for the happy life he will have, and that Frodo won't.

Just musing ....