As my students and I have now made it to Return of the King, their interest in all things Tolkien continues to thrive. The clear arrival of summer weather is allowing us to enjoy reading in the great outdoors. While the lack of four walls is allowing my students to have a sense of no boundaries, it also helps them to realize that when they put their minds to something, they can push through any limitations in their lives.
There also seems to be no limit to the endless questions that my students ask about Tolkien, which is the subject of today’s post. Today I allowed them to freely interrupt the reading of Minas Tirith to ask as many questions as they liked, with the hope that our fantastic knowledge-base from our fantastic Teaching Tolkien readers might provide them with the answers. They love to read your responses and have truly enjoyed interacting with our international fans. Here are some of the Tolkien topics they ponder:
Ori– “If the ring was destroyed and Gollum didn’t die, would he return to his Smeagol status?”
Oin– “Was Shadowfax waiting for Gandalf the entire time he was being transformed from Gandalf the Grey to Gandalf the White or was he anticipating that he would become a white wizard?”
Bifur– “What happens to the Palantir if it were to be placed in fire?”
In response to our great response from reader John Cowan last week regarding other palantirs in Middle-Earth, Bifur also wanted to know “Is Sauron’s power connected to all of the palantirs in Middle-Earth and what does he view through each one?”
Gloin– “What other lands would surround Middle-Earth on a map or is it not connected to anything?”
My students, desperate to know more about the origins of their friends in Middle-Earth also wanted to know if Sauron is equivalent to a supreme leader or dictator of a country. Some of them joked that in his quest for total domination, he should make signs that say “Sauron for President”, which prompted another question “who is the president of Middle-Earth?”
Balin– “Who was the first inhabitant of Middle-Earth?”
Ori came up with a great question that he asked me and we had so much fun with it that we decided to make a game of it and all respond. “Ms. Rodgers, if you could be any creature in Middle-Earth, what would you be and why?” After thinking for a moment, I said I would choose to be an elf. Before I could support my answer, he said “I knew you would say that because you have blonde hair like Galadriel and like archery just like Legolas in the movie.” Amazed at how well my students know me, they all took turns responding to the question.
Balin– “I would be an elf because I already have kind of pointy ears.”
Nori– “I’d be an elf, too, because Legolas is one. He’s handsome!”
Fili– “I’d pick a white wizard just for the power I would have.”
Ori– “I’d be a hobbit because I like to eat and I already have stinky feet!”
Oin– “I’ll go with the white wizard, too, for the power.”
Thorin– “Any wizard would be cool because I could change from grey to white and get more power eventually.”
Bifur– “I’d want to be a wizard. I’d be so powerful that I would go to Hobbiton and make a pair of shoes for everyone and make sure they had a proper bathroom with paper towels.”
I know this seems like a really strange response, but Bifur seemed really concerned today about the hobbits’ hygiene habits, asking about what kind of restroom facilities they had and whether paper towels had come to Middle-Earth. Never ceasing to amaze me with the tangents that their young minds divert to so quickly, they enjoyed entering Gondor today. Some of my more sympathetic students pitied poor Faramir and struggled to understand how Denethor could show such unfair favoritism towards the elder son, Boromir. Ori asked if his preferential treatment of the first-born was a normal practice for the people of Middle-Earth or just in Gondor, relating it to some cultures where sons are preferred over daughters and are often made to feel inferior.
As we ended class today, Oin joked, “But Ms. Rodgers, I have 900 more questions!” While there may not be a limit to the proverbial endless why of a child, please feel free to respond on the blog to any of my students’ questions if you’d like to tackle them or tell us who you would like to be in Middle-Earth and why. We love to hear from you and are so grateful that we have such wonderful support from so many Tolkien fans and scholars around the world.