Ch. 78 – Steward

Steward – Denethor POV – 2 of 2

In which a stone would like to have a word with Denethor.

*****

Denethor is going to find out just how right his father could be.

The time span of this chapter is just a few months in the summer of 2984. The inevitable has arrived and while the kingdom may be ready for it, the High Warden isn’t quite prepared for his own reactions.

Our most loathed family member makes an appearance and has her usual effect on the relations.

No more comments in this post because they would all be spoilers.

Anglachel

 

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7 thoughts on “Ch. 78 – Steward”

  1. This chapter brings to mind Emeldir’s funeral. So long ago!

    Ugh… Beruthiel reappears, and is scarier than ever. She brings on shivers of fear and disgust. She will probably do worse yet than merely curse her family. (I hope she won’t really outlive Denethor? Is she locked in a dungeon somewhere at the time of the War of the Ring?) And now Grima is hanging out with her! Just what everyone needs.

    What a good job Denethor does introducing Boromir to the concept of death.

    I can see where he’s going with all this, but Finduilas is at least partially right — it would be so much easier to cede to a queen. Cowardly or expedient, take your pick.

    I have to wonder… what exactly would have changed if Denethor could have forgiven his father — or told him he was forgiven — before he died? (I suppose you can’t really answer that without spoilers…)

  2. OK, so I was aimlessly surfing around after reading this chapter, not wanting to go right to sleep with Dire Thoughts, and landed on The Toast and this post, which by the title alone I knew would contain at least one reference to Denethor: http://the-toast.net/2015/12/02/characters-i-have-inappropriately-identified-with-when-i-knew-i-was-not-supposed-to/#idc-cover

    And there we go. Note the biggest comment thread is for ol’ Mr. Snarly, 53 replies and going (about halfway down the first page, started by The Toast’s Tolkien Correspondent [the fact that they have one guarantees it’s a quality media outlet]).

  3. Hi Wheelrider,

    Yes, it is meant to bring to mind Emeldir’s funeral and also Angelimir lying in state. It’s the third of the four (major) funerals – Emeldir, Thengel, Ecthelion… and Finduilas.

    None of Denethor’s elder sisters outlive him – Aiavalë, Adanel, Morwen, Maiaberiel or Primrose are all deceased as of the Ring War. Don’t discount how potent a curse can be. From Denethor’s perspective, he *has* lost everything he loves when he kills himself. But, yes, Beruthiel will cause more trouble, especially in Rohan, before the story ends.

    Finduilas is totally right about ceding rule, which is one of the problems Denethor will struggle with the rest of his life. He *knows* there is a king and that he isn’t “Lord” Steward; he’s just the steward. This leaves him both angry at being displaced and grieved at being abandoned. It’s a state of limbo. He’s been suicidal in the face of Sauron’s return before. Now, it’s not so much death as release that he wants, to not be the one left in charge, but to serve directly (support, defend, worship, sacrifice himself to) a sacred ruler who can stand up to Shadow.

    The forgiveness, oddly enough, is in this last year of action, and completed by his consolation of Boromir. Denethor has dedicated himself to making Ecthelion into the Steward he wants to serve, and then acting towards him in that way. At the last, he weeps for Ecthelion as Ecthelion did not (at least to Denethor’s memory) weep for his father, Turgon. He is grieving, though he will not admit it. Boromir does it for the both of them.

    There is also Denethor’s odd thought about Violet, where he calls her Ecthelion’s widow. To even be able to have that thought indicates how differently he has come to think about his father.

    He has relented somewhat. To have completely forgiven, which would mean acknowledging to himself that he has, would have left him less fearful of his own failings and incapacities. He can’t forgive himself his own weakness and insufficiency, which he externalizes in his unyielding harshness to that of others. It’s why Faramir unsettles him so much; the son judges him, finds him lacking, and yet still forgives him.

    Or so I imagine in my interpretation of this tragic story. The fatal flaw in such a figure is always self-inflicted.

    Anglachel

  4. SQQUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I love the Toast and that thread is perfect.

  5. “Don’t discount how potent a curse can be.” Yeah, that’s pretty naïve of me… curses in Middle-earth are heavy duty things.

    “This leaves him both angry at being displaced and grieved at being abandoned. It’s a state of limbo. He’s been suicidal in the face of Sauron’s return before. Now, it’s not so much death as release that he wants, to not be the one left in charge, but to serve directly (support, defend, worship, sacrifice himself to) a sacred ruler who can stand up to Shadow.” Totally understandable. Finduilas actually has more direct (ish) experience with Sauron, and is perhaps less afraid of him.

    Don’t get me wrong — you conveyed that Denethor has more or less forgiven his father in practice and internally. I was thinking more of actually saying it, and if that would trigger some sort of partial lifting of a corner of Doom or something. But seeing him able to come this far in a relatively short time has been rewarding.

  6. “Flight Attendants of Gondor”
    Shelob as a Cathy-comic-like character
    So much to love!

    I can’t wait to see what The Toast’s Tolkien Correspondent comes up with to expand on this theme. (He owes us for leaving Mr. Snarly out of the “The Most Metal Deaths in Middle-earth, Ranked”.)

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