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Everyone Needs A Sam Gamgee

Life can be miserable, but having someone there for you makes a world of difference. Like Frodo, everyone needs a Sam in his or her life.
| Mar 14, 2017 | 1 comment |

“Frodo wouldn’t have gotten far without Sam.”

Image from www.fanpop.com

That line is one of the most touching moments in the Two Towers movie and an honest statement if there ever was one. When we think of the quest to defeat Sauron, Frodo comes to mind as the key character. Too often, we overlook the importance of the role Sam played.

He’s a simple hobbit, no more than a gardener before the quest begins. But during that quest he proves he’s one of the most courageous, self-sacrificing characters you’ll find.

Frodo, indeed, was fortunate to have Sam with him.

An Unexpected Hero

When it comes to Lord of the Rings, it’s easy to view Frodo as the hero. He owns the One Ring and he volunteers to undertake the quest to destroy it, putting his life on the line to save the free peoples of Middle-earth.

Exactly what you’d expect from a fantasy hero.

Yet if you think about it, the true hero of the story is Sam. In the end, Frodo falters, giving in to the temptation of the Ring and nearly causing disaster at the climax. Sam, however, never falls under that shadow. He’s the one individual who carries the Ring and avoids its power.

Without Sam to help and encourage him, it’s doubtful Frodo would have reached Mordor, let alone Mount Doom. The quest would have ended in miserable defeat, but at every turn, at every juncture where Frodo could have given up, Sam was by his side.

A Hard Quest Needs a Good Friend

Frodo’s quest was one of the most epic in fantasy, a journey of thousands of miles through every trial, danger, and hardship imaginable. He had companions along the way, beginning with his hobbit friends in the Shire, adding the Aragorn in Bree and the rest of the fellowship in Rivendell.

Image from lotr.wikia.com

He had friends to guide and protect him, yet along the way, circumstances separated them until only Sam remained. Think of the weight on Frodo’s shoulders if he had left the Anduin and trekked eastward alone. Thankfully for him, Sam refused to be left behind.

While we aren’t travelers on a quest, we are travelers in the journey of life, and life is far from easy at times. Just like Frodo, we face things that test us mentally, physically, spiritually.

It’s not fun, but having a close friend to come alongside us in sympathy and love is invaluable.

Loyalty and Love

As the quest wore on, a change came over Frodo as the Ring’s power slowly gnawed at him. The movies brought this out more strongly than the book did, showing the outward effects the Ring was having and the consequences for Sam.

Frodo became downright nasty at times, and Sam had every reason to abandon him—except he couldn’t. His loyalty and love ran too deep. Even if Frodo turned on him, Sam fought through the heartache and stuck by him as only a true friend can.

Image from lotr.wikia.com

I guess that’s the point. Some people may start as friends, but eventually life draws you apart, or something happens and they turn the cold shoulder.

But a true friend is one who sticks by you, even if sometimes you’re an ogre to be around. One who’s love and loyalty run deeper than your shortcomings, who will never abandon you to the shadows of Mordor despite the danger to them personally.

As Frodo found out, we all need those relationships. Life can be miserable, but having someone there for you makes a world of difference. Like Frodo, everyone needs a Sam in his or her life.

Have you faced something terrible but had someone there for you? Have you seen the power of friendship?

*Originally published in September 2015, at zacharytotah.com

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Brennan S. McPherson
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I do wonder if maybe Sam was the product of some very personal musings Tolkien had over the academic lifestyle. Tolkien was absorbed in academia, where everything hinges on your “learnedness.” But even though the wise characters of Middle Earth make critical decisions that avert disaster, the LOTR’s books show that both the wise and the simple have their place. At times, the books even elevate the simple over the wise (1 Corinthians 1:20-25). Sam, because of his simplicity, had an easier time having faith in their duty to destroy the ring. Whereas Frodo, because of his intelligence, found it easier to fall into prideful, self-destructive fantasies. “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” –1 Corinthians 8:1. It was Sam’s simple love and faith-fullness (pun intended) that saved Middle Earth from destruction. It seems that Tolkien, in a way, saw himself a little bit like Frodo, and I wonder if maybe Sam was Tolkien’s private discovery of the point you made in this article: we all need a Sam, because our intelligence could never really save us. It seems like it makes the same point Tolkien makes in his short story Leaf by Niggle, where Niggle is brought to see and appreciate the good in his very different neighbor, and vice versa.

On a side note, I still cry every flipping time I watch the ending of The Return of the King. Such a beautiful portrayal of friendship, love, and faithfulness.