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TCG Letter #553 / Carpenter Letter #191

J.R.R. Tolkien
Miss J. Burn
26 July 1956
Tolkien reflects on Frodo's role in the destruction of the Ring and discusses the theological implications of his actions. He argues that Frodo's failure to surrender the Ring, especially at its point of maximum power, was inevitable and had been foreshadowed throughout the story. Frodo's honor and the success of the mission were ultimately saved by mercy, pity, and forgiveness of injury. Tolkien draws parallels with biblical verses, emphasizing the themes of bearing temptation and seeking deliverance from evil.

Tolkien rejects the notion of Frodo's failure as a narrative flaw, stating that it follows the logical progression of the story. He addresses the idea of salvation in situations beyond one's power, referring to the general sanctity, humility, and mercy of sacrificial individuals. Tolkien mentions Gollum's missed chance of redemption and notes the unlikelihood of immediate deliverance for real-world prisoners who have been brainwashed.

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