NOV / DEC 2012: BY ELLA G.
There is a quote that reads, “Friendship isn’t about who knew you the longest—it’s about who came and never left your side.” Its an easy quote to think happy thoughts about and let them pass on by. But think about it. The friends worth having are the ones who laugh, cry and do whatever it takes to make you a better person. It’s not easy to be that type of friend. It’s much quicker to be a casual acquaintance that bails at the first sign of trouble.
Samwise Gamgee is a true friend to Frodo Baggins. They might not be close in the Shire, but that quickly changes. Sam is given an important task, to watch out for Frodo as he takes the Ring to Mount Doom. It’s not a task for the faint of heart. There are dangerous lands to cross and the Dark Lord will constantly be searching for them. Sam, though, is the kind of guy who honors his word no matter what. Frodo needs assistance to get through this journey and he’s going to be there for him. It takes a little “push” for Sam to willingly cross the boundary of the Shire but he does it. Sometimes it does take a friend to push you outside of your comfort zone, to do the thing that absolutely petrifies you. Frodo knows what Sam needs (a kind word) to get him going. A little encouragement goes a long way.
Journeys aren’t only of a physical nature but can be figurative too. They can reveal what kind of character you have. Did Sam plan on the hardships he would endure? If he’d known, would he have done it? Did he want to know Frodo that well or was he content to have a casual relationship at the pub and call it a day? Turns out, he doesn’t have much of a choice. Whether he wants to or not, he’s going to get to develop a strong relationship with Frodo, one that will either grow and blossom or crash and burn.
Sam isn’t alone at first. He has the Fellowship for awhile, made up of all sorts of people. Hobbits and dwarves and elves, oh my! But it works. Every single one of them has a part to play. It’s the same for our human existence. Often we’re not called to be the only support of someone; we’re only a small piece. But sometimes that piece can be the biggest piece of the entire puzzle. Sam is the one who fights off Shelob before she can kill Frodo; Sam is vital in keeping the Nazgûl away from his friend. These things seem impossible for a small hobbit to do, yet he does them. Sure Legolas is great with a bow and arrow and Gimli can swing an ax, but Sam’s heart and love for Frodo makes those other defenses pale in comparison. Occasionally, little things can win big battles.
One of the biggest things Sam does for Frodo is when his friend turns him away. Frodo tells him not to follow him anymore; he’ll go on alone. But Sam follows him anyway. Sam knows in the darkest hour, what his friend needs is his presence. Frodo didn’t think so, but Sam did. Frodo might be unreasonable and under the spell of Gollum and the Ring yet that was no reason to abandon him. In life, at times our friends will be unbearable. Their journey will be too much for them. They’ll try to push us away. To quote Sam, “I can’t carry it. But I can carry you.” A true friend bears the burdens of another without complaint. Sam did what Frodo could not: he carried his friend, on his back, up to the mouth of Mount Doom. It was what was needed.
Sadly it comes to a climax where Sam doubts everything he has done for Frodo until this point. They’ve reached Mordor, all that remains is for Frodo to toss the Ring into the fire. Yet Frodo wants to hold onto the ring; he wants the power that comes with having it in one’s use and possession. Had I been in Sam’s place, I’d have had second thoughts about why I’d just done what I did—why I left my home, battled all sorts of creepy creatures, nearly got killed numerous times… for what?! Sam doesn’t do that. He stands by his friend and even when Frodo’s greed nearly gets him killed—he saves him from danger one last time.
It only makes sense that as The Lord of the Rings comes to a close, Frodo gives Sam the task of finishing the story. Frodo knows his friend played such a role in his life. It’s a role that needs his own spin on it; Sam needs to share it in his words. Frodo’s life wouldn’t have as much impact if not for Sam. What I wouldn’t give for that to be said of me in the lives of some of my friends.
In many ways I see Sam as an allegory of Christ. He’s a servant, willing to die for his friend. He saves Frodo from evil and painful death and is his conscience. Christ is all of that and more in my life. I see it vividly in the final scene. Frodo is about to go into the fire of Mount Doom and Sam yells for Frodo to grab his hand. That is Christ to me—calling out, urging me to reach for Him; he’ll save me from the fire. All I have to do is trust. And when you think about it, when you think about where you started from and where you are now, you quickly see that Christ, much like Sam in Frodo’s case, never leaves your side. Not even when you’re unreasonable. Not even when you’re unlovable. How can you not reach? How can you not want a person like that in your corner? ■