104) A Short Cut to Mushrooms

A Short Cut to Mushrooms

The elves have left them food, but Sam has to stop Pippin from eating it all, not leaving Frodo a share. This is the first of many cases in which Pippin is irresponsible.

Frodo thinks it would be wrong to let Pippin come with him on the main journey, which he supposedly known nothing of.  He also warns Sam:

“It is going to be very dangerous … most likely neither of us will come back”.

Sam accepts this and also says he will not come back without Frodo.  (Foreshadowing his later choice at Cirith Ungol.)

Regarding Frodo and Sam: Ursula Le Guin comments that they are almost two aspects of the same person.  She also notices that Sam’s future wife Rosie Cotton has not been mentioned until Sam thinks of her in Mordor.  The Jackson film introduces her early, with Frodo encouraging him to ask her to dance.

After all this, the hobbits set off merrily.  But are also more cautious, taking a short cut that is boggy but avoids the road.  This is wise: they hear chilling cries that must be from the Riders.  (They now know for certain there is more that one of them.)

They then find Farmer Maggot’s farm.  Frodo has had trouble before, having stolen mushrooms.  He makes friends, however.  This is a revision – in an early draft he has used the ring and scares the man while invisible.  I don’t always agree with Tolkien’s choices, but on this I am glad he changed it.

Jackson has Frodo and Sam leave alone and run into Merry and Pippin stealing from Farmer Maggot.  He also never has them much different, which is wrong.  Merry is much more sober and responsible.  Pippin does foolish things but also clever things.

In Tolkien’s narrative, Farmer Maggot explains that he has met a Black Rider, who is looking for Baggins.  Who offers gold for information, which only angers Maggot, who has a sense of honour.

You also see a solid class structure – he recognises and respects “Master Pippin – Mr Peregrine Took”, heir of the local aristocrat.  He also says “Mr Frodo” – Frodo is related to both Tooks and Brandybucks, as well as being rich enough never to need to work.  (Frodo and Meriadoc Brandybuck are first cousins once removed.  He is also related to Peregrin Took, being his second and third cousin once removed)

Maggot drives them to the ferry, where they meet Merry who was waiting for them.  Merry is initially mistaken for a Black Rider.  But there is no dramatic escape as in the film.

One little incidental – a foreign Tolkien society had a dinner with dishes named after various Tolkienian characters.  This included Mushroom Soup, which was fine.  But calling it Maggot Soup was unfortunate.

Copyright © Gwydion M. Williams.