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Thread: What if...

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LadyofLegolas originally began this thread with the following post.

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I don't know if this question has already been covered, but I'll ask anyways.
What if Sam had been given the ring instead of Frodo? How would that have changed the plot?
You see a little bit of that when (spoiler) Sam gets the ring for that time. Do you think he would have just cast it into the Cracks of Doom if he had had it as long as Frodo? I'm still debating on this.


ProgHead777 replied

Long, long ago when we still used the PT email discussion thingy, several of us debated this exact issue... we never did come to any conclusion

I think it depends on your opinion of Sam. As you may or may nor know, we have a number of ardent Samwise haters around here. Fortunately, I am not one of them!

I think Sam might have made a better ringbearer than Frodo. The reasons for this are complicated... in a nutshell, I think Sam, being just a tad "simple" was slightly more immune to the effects of the Ring than Frodo.

If you recall, Sam gave up the Ring to Frodo in Cirith Ungol with only the slightest hesitation. Up to this point, Bilbo had been the only being to ever willingly give up the Ring... and then only with some heavy prodding from Gandalf.

Now, you may say, "Well, Sam only had the Ring for a very, very short period of time relative to Bilbo or even Frodo, for that matter." But if you consider the fact that Gandalf refused to even touch it for a split second then you could come to the conclusion that for most beings, a split second is long enough.

I think Sam showed extraordinary resistance to the power of the Ring. And though I can't say for certain that he would have been strong enough to do what Frodo couldn't, I do think he would have been more likely to do so than Frodo. Does that make any sense?


I agree that Sam would have made a better ringbearer than Frodo.

At first when he had the ring, he though of how great it would be if he just took the ring for his own, but quickly dismissed the thought because he realized that he was just a simple hobbit and couldn't master the will of the ring. Though while he might have done a better job carrying the ring, people reading the book probably wouldn't take the ring as seriously as a real threat to people's (or hobbit's) minds, so it does serve somewhat of a purpose that Frodo ended up carrying the ring.
yeah that what i think...
I think that what made Sam stronger than Frodo was his loyalty to his friend and his comprehension of the dangerous task he and Frodo got in, while Frodo was always trying to forget what he was going to do...
I dont care... Wink Smilie
It seams to me Frodo was the best choice.
Sam would not have been Sam if he had takin the ring.
Puppy Smilie LadyFeawen Cat Smilie



[Edited on 6/8/2003 by LadyFeawen]
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I don't care... It seems to me that Frodo was the best choice. Sam would not have been Sam if he had taken the Ring.


I agree. If Sam had the Ring instead of Frodo, then eventually he wouldve been tempted; the Ring would offer him wealth, power, etc., Rosie at his side, and he would have to choose for both of them (Sam and Rosie), and live with that decision. Frodo was a much safer choice for Ringbearer because he was emotionally unattached (as far as I know).
Well, this is difficult. Sam is my favourite character but I believe in one way Sam is stronger than Frodo and in an other way he isn't.

I don't doubt that Sam would have been able to throw the ring in the fire of Mount Doom. I do believe in that way he is stronger than Frodo and the Ring wouldn't have that much power over him. Exactly because like Prog said, Sam is more "simple". That's also the reason, why he is the only one of the fellowship who comes unchanged out of this adventure.

But Sam's weakness is that he doesn't think very high of himself. He believes he's clumpsy and not so bright. So I wonder if he would ever made it to Mount Doom. Certainly not alone. He would need someone with him.
Frodo had much more selfrespect and selfestimation and even he wouldn't have got to Mount Doom without Sam. Not only because Sam protected him, saved him from Shelob and the Orcs and carried him when he had no strength left, but also because Sam kept Frodo from losing his mind, from going mad. There Sam proves again that he's strong.
So my point is, Sam would have needed someone too.

But I think his lack of selfrespect would cause him to fail. Imagine the scene when Boromir tries to take the Ring from Frodo. Suppose Sam is standing there alone, unsure of himself, doubting if he would ever succeed (like Frodo also did). Then Boromir shows up. He didn't use violence at once. He first tried to talk Frodo out of destroying the Ring. What would happen if Boromir would tell Sam that he feels sorry for him, bearing such a heavy burden. Asking Sam to give him the Ring, so he would be relieved. That it would be better to use the Ring in stead of destroying it. How would Sam react? What would he think? That such a big and important warrior like Boromir would know better that this simple Hobbit? Would that be in his mind so he would hand over the Ring? Or would he have the strength to remember Gandalf's words? Would he remember his promise to Gandalf? But I am convinced if Boromir would try to take the Ring by force, Sam would never give it up.

But then there is a second difficulty: would he decide to leave the fellowship? I don't think he would. I don't think Sam would ever decide to leave them all behind and sneak out alone. He's too loyal to do that. Here he would need someone like Frodo to convince him to separate from the group and continue by just the two of them.

Well, those are just a few of my thoughts. Smile Smilie
Nice post, gnampie.

It seems to me that for all of its power of corruption, the Ring seems to take a while discovering a person's weakness before it begins undermining them. The Ring had little effect on Sam while he wielded it even though he was in Mordor at the time. I think this was because Sam's altruistic motives were something the Ring was unable to understand in the short time he was in possession of it. Had he been the bearer for longer, however, it would have eventually discovered some weakeness it could manipulate him through. Like you mentioned, his lack of self esteem could very well have been used against him, possibly even urging him to surrender the Ring to someone more to its liking.

This is also possibly a reason Sam was able to be in Frodo (and the Ring's) presence for so long without becoming corrupted by it. We generally assume here, that it was Sam's personality and lack of interest in power that enabled him to remain uncorrupted. It may, however, have been the case of the Ring having little interest in him because it considered him worthless to its purpose. The Ring was intelligent. Maybe it selected its victims (as it fell from Gollum's fingers when it wanted to escape the mountain). Maybe it sent out stronger signals to those it sensed that it could best use.
Sam assisted Frodo. His loyalty and his help got them through. Who would have done that for Sam if he were the ringbearer?
That is a good point, Lasgalen. Frodo did not succeed alone. He would not have got very far at all without Sam. Sam was the perfect companion, always there to help. Were he the ringbearer, he would not have anyone who could fill that role, and would therefore go unsupported.

I think this is the whole point that Tolkien was making about Sam, however. His entire role was supposed to be that of a companion. In this role he excelled, just as Aragorn did at tracking, or Legolas firing a bow. Just because he isn't a warrior or a wizard he tends to get overlooked somewhat, but for the role he was sent on the quest to do (eg. be a companion for Frodo), there was no one better.
Thanks Val!


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Sam assisted Frodo. His loyalty and his help got them through. Who would have done that for Sam if he were the ringbearer?


I believe Frodo would support Sam, no matter what. Next to Bilbo and Gandalf, Sam was the one he was most close with. I think they were very good friends. But somehow, I also have this feeling Sam's friendship for Frodo was bigger than Frodo's friendship for Sam.
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I think they were very good friends. But somehow, I also have this feeling Sam's friendship for Frodo was bigger than Frodo's friendship for Sam.
I have always felt that too, gnampie. I think the difference though, is that Sam is more simple than Frodo (the servant rather than master), and as such he has a huge admiration for Frodo. Frodo is Sam's hero, whereas Sam is Frodo's friend and gardener.

I think it took the quest for Frodo to truely see Sam's true worth, whereas for Sam, he already saw what was in Frodo.
Gandalf told Frodo, "keep it safe; and keep it secret" and "...don't use it!," but I don't find anywhere that he charged Sam with, "Don't lose him." Was that something made out of whole cloth by PJ, or have I just overlooked that bit in the book?
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but I don't find anywhere that he charged Sam with, "Don't lose him." Was that something made out of whole cloth by PJ, or have I just overlooked that bit in the book?


Grondy, in chapter 4 'a short cut to mushrooms' there is this conversation between Frodo and Sam:

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'Well, Sam!' he said. 'What about it? I am leaving the Shire as soon as
ever I can - in fact I have made up my mind now not even to wait a day at
Crickhollow, if it can be helped.'
'Very good, sir!'
'You still mean to come with me?'
'I do.'
'It is going to be very dangerous, Sam. 'It is already dangerous. Most
likely neither of us will come back.'
'If you don't come back, sir, then I shan't, that's certain,' said Sam.
'Don't you leave him! they said to me. Leave him! I said. I never mean to.


Don't you leave him or don't lose him is somewhat the same thing, no?
I'm not sure if 'they' is Gandalf. Maybe it's Gandalf and Gaffer or something.
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Don't you leave him or don't lose him is somewhat the same thing, no?
I'm not sure if 'they' is Gandalf. Maybe it's Gandalf and Gaffer or something.
Ah, yes. And who the they were, is explained a little farther down that same page.
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'Who are they, and what are you talking about?'

'The Elves, sir. We had some talk last night; ...
So PJ attributed that to Gandalf because he skipped Gildor and Mrs. Maggots mushroom and bacon supper, not to mention the wagon ride to the ferry.

I guess I better read the books again after I watch LotR: TTT so I can determine what is real and what is imaginary. Elf With a Big Grin Smilie
Frodo is supposed to be sam's master. Gladriel said to sam that there was a ring berer and along with that ring bearer was companions. Once sam found out that Frodo was still alive, he followed the orcs that took him captive. He would have destroyed the ring by himself if Frodo was dead
Yes, that was Sam's intent. Whether he on his own, could have been successful is quite doubtful, because Gollum was still out there and Sam had to sleep sometime: Gollum wouldn't have respected that sleep.