Unsaid – Denethor POV – 1 of 2
In which we observe a day in Denethor’s life, and what he finds unspeakable.
What is the price for keeping your silence? What are the uses of words unspoken? How do fear and hope conspire to make us keep thoughts to ourselves? If only Denethor had spoken, or Thorongil held his tongue…
There is a good deal of happiness in Denethor’s life, even so. He adores his son. I’m out to break down another fanonical assumption that Denethor would not have anything to do with the baby unless Boromir was clean and quiet. Hello? Denethor is used to chopping up Orcs and sleeping in the dirt and would not understand what deodorant is for. He lives in the midst of a society in which dirt and smell is a constant. A grubby baby is pretty nice compared to a high summer battlefield.
Ecthelion continues to try to be a better father/grandfather. It may be working. Denethor is not the only one in the family who knows how to bluff, and the old man is awfully good at faking sincerity.
The afternoon is for the shadow of the past to stretch out across the plans for the future. The invasion of Umbar is the return of Eldacar is the partition of Arnor is the empty seat in the doubled throne…
In the evening, Denethor delivers a reality check to the would-be king – payable in about 120 days.
The day ends with more of the dream that has been consuming Denethor – his own Swan dream, if you will – with the lord of Emyn Arnen (an unnamed ancestor) defending Gondor against Castamir while the king abandoned the land and fled north. Now, the king has returned, and Denethor’s ancestor walks through the street painted with the blood of his people, slain by the golden barbarians the king brought to defeat the rebels.
The whole questions divine sanction, if not divine demand, of the slaughter of innocents. That is what goes unsaid through most of Tolkien. His tales are awash in blood of people who would really rather be sitting down to second breakfast. This is the price inflicted by the gods on their creations.
Denethor knows that Thorongil must shed blood, not of Haradrim or Orcs, but of Dúnedain (however fallen), if he is to rule. Denethor has lived in Umbar. He knows them and the city well, and he loves it, despite the darkness it holds. He knows what neither the Steward, blinded by his retreat into spirit, nor Thorongil, blinded by unrequited love, will see with clear eyes – you will kill people who should not die. That Denethor would still do so is the part Tolkien (and others) won’t accept – that adding a layer of divinity does not make butchery more palatable, nor does the absence of divine favor absolve you from acting to defend other innocents.
It’s still butchery.