After Frodo’s unsettling disappearance in the common room of the Prancing Pony the very perturbed crowd immediately cleared out. Frodo just wants to get to the relative safety of his room and leave Bree as soon as possible. But first he has an appointment with the enigmatic and undesirable wanderer known as Strider. Join us as we examine chapter ten of The Lord Of The Rings.
All That Is Gold Does Not Glitter
Frodo, Sam, and Pippin made their way to their private parlor. As they were stoking the dwindling fire to a more comfortable flame they were startled to find Strider sitting quietly by the door. This Ranger has a proposition for Frodo and he requires reward for it. Mr. “Underhill” suspects that Strider means to rob him. After all he looks every bit a rogue! It isn’t until he reads the long-overdue letter from Gandalf – which Barliman Butterbur had forgotten to deliver – that he sees Strider in a different light. The letter includes a poem of Bilbo Baggins that speaks of a king:
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord Of The Rings, Strider, p. 169
“Do these lines refer to you,” asked Frodo. “Why didn’t you tell us who you were?” Strider, aka Aragorn son of Arathorn, tells Frodo that he had hoped Frodo and his companions would come to trust him through his own words and actions.
I hoped you would take to me for my own sake. A hunted man sometimes wearies of distrust and longs for friendship. But there, I believe my looks are against me.
– Ibid., p. 170
This is reminiscent of the Messiah and the description of Him in Isaiah as translated in the Common English Bible:
He possessed no splendid form for us to see,
no desirable appearance.
– Isaiah 53:2b CEB
Seem Fairer And Feel Fouler
The scriptures have much to say about deceptive appearances, and yet we are prone to judge a book by its cover still. Aragorn has been shunned by the people of Bree. Yes, they want news of the outside world – the kind that only a wandering ranger can provide – but they will not befriend him. They will extend no compassion toward him. They will not welcome him. And they surely would not want him as their king!
Yet Frodo hoped all along that Strider was a friend to he and the other hobbits. He knew that if Strider was truly an enemy he would, “well, seem fairer and feel fouler, if you understand.”
What stood out to you in chapter ten, STRIDER? Let us know in the comments below.
On The Secret Fire Podcast we travel chapter-by-chapter and book-by-book through J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth viewing it through Christian lenses. We invite you to join us each week as we continue the adventure on the Arkenstone server in Lord Of The Rings Online.
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