Foundation – Denethor POV – 5 of 6
In which Denethor contemplates towers, fortresses, northern rangers, distant lands, nearby ruins, peach pits, cobblestones, greatness, contentment, an inland sea, contests of the past, and the tales told by stone.
And, no, I am not the slightest bit repentant for that line.
There are all kinds of foundations in Denethor’s world, the most obvious being what supports the stone towers and cities of Gondor. What binds them? Cement, mortar, the weight of the stone itself. And what binds the people? Custom, tradition, words, songs, stories, trust.
Finally, for the first time in months, Thorongil and Denethor interact, and you get to see the unsteady foundation of their bond. It’s in the hands of the king, though neither understand.
When Thorongil touches Denethor, he is trying (in his own way and unconsciously) to heal the pain he sees in the other man, just like he healed Denethor’s head injury the previous summer. Denethor cannot help but respond to the touch of the king. Thorongil is definitely treading softly. He finally understands how fragile the realm is with the political factions, the growing threat of Mordor, and the despairing soul of the populace. His also has come into conflict directly with Ecthelion for the first time (refusing to swear) and it was probably an eye-opener as to how shallow his favor is with the Steward.
The letter was sent by Denethor to Thorongil just before Denethor left Pelargir to go to Dol Amroth. He wrote about the report of a pyre in the center of Umbar, and assumes it means the Corsairs have once again taken up human sacrifice. The blindness that afflicts Thorongil is he does not really understand how much Denethor does trust him, and how such things are attempts by Denethor to show what he cannot say – I trust you, side with me, let us make common cause. He still sees the situation as being in conflict, where they are rivals for power and station, but that is changing. If Thorongil could see them as partners, I suspect Denethor would end up yielding. Simple contest, however, will always make him resist.