Friday, March 21, 2008

In praise of Faramir

I've been listening to The Two Towers at work lately. At one point in my life, I really loved the whole Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and then the movies came out, which damaged that love. After the movies, I discovered that when I read Fellowship, I was anxious the whole time to GET to places; I wanted to get out of the Old Forest, I wanted to get to Rivendale, I wanted to get to Moria. I couldn't enjoy the once-loved story because of my impatience with the aspects of getting somewhere. Then, I discovered, I really can't stand Frodo. He whines the entire time during Return of the King; really, if you think about it, most of that book is told from Sam's point of view, and he becomes the real hero. But I digress.

So, after a much needed break, I started listening to the trilogy again this year. I made it through Fellowship without too much angst over "getting places." I loved listening to the first half of The Two Towers, where you follow the Aragorn/Legolas/Gimli trio as well as the Merry/Pippin combo. I will say that the movies have vastly improved my, ahem, image of Aragorn and his story (read: he's freakin' hot!). And when I moved into the Frodo/Sam story in the second half of TTT, I went with the flow

This past week I found myself at the point when Faramir enters the tale, and I've decided Aragorn has some competition. Now, in the movie, the depiction of Faramir is totally off. His attempt at taking Frodo to Minas Tirith and wanting the Ring is exactly the opposite of how it happens in the book. He says twice, in fact, that had he found the Ring sitting by the side of the road, he would pass it by without a second thought. Faramir is truly a friend to Frodo, and I love the role he plays in the book. This is how I see it:

Frodo is alone, in the wilderness, with an devoted servant and a haggard, evil-hearted guide. For all he knows, all of his other friends who set out on the quest with him have been killed, and even if they haven't, they are hundreds of miles away from him and cannot help him. He has been given the task of destroying the Ring, but the person he has to trust Gollum to accomplish this is Gollum, and Gollum doesn't inspire trust. And then he meets Faramir.

Faramir gives Frodo and Sam the comfort and protection of a place to sleep that is guarded by good men. He feeds them good food and drink. His wisdom and smart questioning allows Frodo and Sam to confide their true mission to him. Finally, a person who can advise them, who can truly know their errand and the burden that the errand places on them. The day and night that Frodo and Sam (and later Gollum) spend with Faramir are an oasis; they offer them a much needed break from the terror of the journey, and Faramir gives them some necessary council to aid them.

As I listened to this part of the book, I thought of the safety that Faramir offered and all that it represents. Sometimes, when I feel the weight of my burdens, that even though there are others around me, I feel alone and unsafe. At these times, I want wanted someone like Faramir to come out of the wilderness, take me in, give me shelter and food and safety for a night, and let me share my true burden. Someone who is wiser than me, who can, like Faramir, listen to my guarded words and see through the holes and understand what I can't say. Who can see my path and tell me where I am headed and what that place is truly called.

I don't mean to say that I have a horrible life or that I feel this way all the time. But those few times when it all seems to come crashing down, when it all gets too much and I don't know where to turn or what to do, it would be a blessing to find an oasis to take me out of the terror of the world. I wish for a Faramir to show up and tell me what to do and let me know it will be alright. I want someone who is just there for me. It's selfish, but I think we all sometimes want that feeling of safety. The sobering thought is that it really is all up to us; like Frodo, even when we find our momentary oasis, we still have to go back out in the world at some point and face it. Even Faramir couldn't complete Frodo's task for him. The wisest councilor still can't take away that moment of truth when we face our burden head on. But finding that councilor can give us the courage we need to finish the task at hand.

I think that this is what makes me love the Lord of the Rings the most. Those little bits of truth that are enbedded in it. Some of my favorite lines out of all of literature come from these books because they don't just apply to the characters in the books, they apply to my life and the challenges that I face. To tell a good story is one thing, but to make people think about life in a new way is quite another.

I'm glad I didn't give up on Frodo at his companions. I hope that my newly discovered love of them can continue, and that I can find other things that make me think about my life.


Amy Sorensen said...

The first time I read the LotR trilogy, I was exhausted and stressed (it was when Kendell was in NYC and I was also working on Mom's scrapbook), and I found myself totally LOST in some places. (I don't think I realized until the Return of the King that Sauron and Sauruman were different characters!) But, Faramir was a character I instantly loved. His portrayal in the movies was one of the (few) things I absolutely DETESTED.

Anyway, I love what you say about him, and I agree: the Faramirs in our lives are few and far between, and only luck brings them to us, but they are welcome when they come. Especially that ability to listen around & through the walls we build; those people are rare in our lives.

thanks for a great post on this Easter eve!!!

Kasandra said...

Becky haven't been blogging in so long!! I really enjoyed the time you took to write this wonderful response to Lord of the Rings. I read the books years ago, loved them but have forgotten sooo much, really loved the movies. So your entry shows me that I need to go back and reread them. My Dad passed away last year and they were some of his favourite books ( he loved Gandalf!) and my Don loved the movies ( he quotes some of the lines in lessons he teaches....) We all just really love Sam but I guess I better go rediscover Faramir!! from Kas