Faramir discovers, if you hide your grief, it will find you in other ways
I recently read Wade Davis’ ‘Into the Silence’ and John Garth’s ‘Tolkien and the Great War’, and it seems to me there is a beautiful intersection between the two about the human response to great grief and trauma. Davis’ book about the Mallory Everest expeditions chronicles their attempts to conquer nature in the aftermath of the Great War. They create a towering physical achievement, a testament to resilience and positive discovery. Garth’s masterpiece beautifully illustrates how Tolkien’s own experiences with the Somme and the Great War shaped his literary achievement and through his imagination transformed the cataclysm of his generation into something positive. Both books see their subjects’ achievements as a cri-de coeur against the hopelessness of the War, a vehicle for healing of that scarred generation. I have had the privilege to work literally in the footsteps of men who came back from the senseless slaughter to their own, more horizontal achievement, mapping the Arctic. One of them was the son of a member of the Mallory expedition. They were resilient spirits who turned their profound wartime loss into a lasting contribution to science.
Grief and trauma form a crucible that leaves you distilled and changed, fused and hardened, the basis for the indomitable character of all these men and something Tolkien himself imbued in nearly every page of the books. The universal theme I think is turning the experience outward and that is why I think his universe resonates so well.
Tolkien has said that of all the characters in his works Faramir is most like to him. Both are scholars, fundamentally gentle men asked to do something against their nature, both coming to the battle having already seen profound loss (Tolkien lost both parents as a child, Faramir as a child and adult) and finding hope on the edge of the abyss. After reading both books I felt a need to explore Faramir in this light. Of all of the characters in the books he has lost the most; his mother, father, brother, comrades in arms. I see him as a man pushed beyond all endurance, who has struggled, passed through the crucible and endures. But it is a struggle, one that is not shown in the books and I try to show in this short story.
Table of Contents
Categories: The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Characters: Gondorian: Faramir son of Denethor
Times: 3-Third Age: Post-War of the Ring
Chapters: 1    |    Word count: 1482    |    Read Count: 850
Completed: Yes    |    Updated: 09/23/14    |    Published: 09/23/14