41

Strider appeared to, already, know about Frodo and that he carried the Ring. At this point in the story, Frodo was travelling under the pseudonym of Mr. Underhill. How did Strider know who Frodo was?

  • 9
    Strider may have been informed by the wizard but, even if he had not, I'm pretty sure that by the time he finished smoking his pipe in the dark, Pipping had messed up the pseudonym and called him Frodo from the top of his lungs... thrice. – xDaizu May 8 '17 at 16:00
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    This has nothing to do with Lord of the Rings, and more to do with the mindset of the readers at the time of first publication. I believe we, today, might have a hard time understanding the process for finding a person before the age of telephones and GPS. Imagine the complexity of a letter finding its way to a settler in the American west. Or of Rowan delivering a message to Garcia. Finding a person with minimal information is a lost art. – Jammin4CO May 8 '17 at 17:49
  • Sorry, my comment has nothing to do with LoR. Not the question. The question is good. :-) That is why I made a comment and not an answer. – Jammin4CO May 8 '17 at 18:11
64

A Wizard told him

Two things are of note. Strider (Aragorn) was aware of their travels and knew how Gandalf had sent them. After finding out that Gandalf was lost, he went searching for the Hobbits himself. Fortunately, as they left Bombadil on the borders of his land, Aragorn was behind the hedge and managed to catch a snippet of their conversation.

“Now, I was behind the hedge this evening on the Road west of Bree, when four hobbits came out of the Downlands. I need not repeat all that they said to old Bombadil or to one another; but one thing interested me. Please remember, said one of them, that the name Baggins must not be mentioned. I am Mr. Underhill, if any name must be given. That interested me so much that I followed them here. I slipped over the gate just behind them.
Fellowship of the Ring: Chapter 10, Strider

Aragorn states his awareness of Frodo, and confirms his search.

But the explanation is simple: I was looking for a Hobbit called Frodo Baggins. I wanted to find him quickly. I had learned that he was carrying out of the Shire, well, a secret that concerned me and my friends.
ibid.

He only goes into more details after Frodo has read the letter and confirms that it is indeed Aragorn son of Arathorn

We (himself and Gandalf) met last on the first of May: at Sarn Ford down the Brandywine. He told me that his business with you had gone well, and that you would be starting for Rivendell the last week of September. As I knew he was at your side, I went away in a journey of my own.
ibid.

Aragorn was made aware by Gildor and his company that something had happened to Gandalf. Aragorn then makes us aware that he was looking out for the Hobbits, waiting for their arrival.

The tidings had gone far and wide that Gandalf was missing and the horsemen had been seen. It was the Elven-folk of Gildor that told me this; and later they told me that you had left your home; but there was no news of your leaving Buckland. I have been watching the East Road anxiously.
ibid.

Gandalf was also aware that Aragorn would be on the Road, possibly looking out for them.

You may meet a friend of mine on the Road: a Man, lean, dark, tall, by some called Strider. He knows our business and will help you.
ibid.


Intrestingly, in the early drafts (back when Trotter was a Hobbit and Frodo was Bingo Bolger-Baggins) Aragorn only came upon Frodo because he'd pieced two and two together.

I was behind a hedge when a party of travellers was halted by the Road not far west from here. There was a cart and horses and ponies; a whole pack of dwarves, one or two elves, and - a wizard. Gandalf, of course; there's no mistaking him, you'll agree. They were talking about a certain Mr Bingo Bolger- Baggins and his three friends, that were supposed to be riding on the Road behind. A bit incautious of Gandalf, I must say; but then, he was speaking low and I have quick ears, and was lying pretty close.
The Return of the Shadow: IX, Trotter and the Journey to Weathertop

It would seem Trotter (Aragorn) was unaware of Bingo's (Frodo's) coming before he overheard Gandalf and a group of Dwarves and Elves conversing.

In the same draft, Gandalf then uses Trotter to ensure Bingo's safety

“ I am giving this to a ranger (wild hobbit) known as Trotter: he is dark, long-haired, has wooden shoes! You can trust him. He is an old friend of mine and knows a great deal.”
ibid.

In Phase Three of the writing of FR the same account is given, with Trotter being previously unaware and finding out from overhearing Gandalf. However Frodo is now named Frodo, and his companions are indeed Sam, Merry and Folco.

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    What's ibid.? – KeyWeeUsr May 8 '17 at 19:57
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    @KeyWeeUsr It means the same source as the previous quote. "In the same source (used to save space in textual references to a quoted work which has been mentioned in a previous reference)." – Edlothiad May 8 '17 at 20:04
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    You forgot one. In the first chapter of Fellowship, just before Gandalf leaves on the urgent business that takes him to Saruman (though we aren't informed that that is where he is going yet), he says that Frodo will be watched while he is in the Shire. He had JUST finished talking about his great friend who helped him track down and bag Gollum (which was a reference to Aragorn) without whom he never would have caught Gollum. This oblique reference makes it seem like Gandalf had been working with Aragorn for some time and actually assigned him to watch the Shire for Frodo. – JBiggs May 8 '17 at 20:04
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    @Edlothiad I don't have my copy of the book in front of me or I'd give you a quote and page number, but I was just reading this to my son yesterday. ;-) – JBiggs May 8 '17 at 20:06
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    @KeyWeeUsr Also a user here! – Möoz May 9 '17 at 4:13
22

He overheard Frodo talking to Tom Bombadil.

'Too much; too many dark things,' said Strider grimly. 'But as for your business -' He got up and went to the door, opened it quickly and looked out. Then he shut it quietly and sat down again. 'I have quick ears,' he went on, lowering his voice, 'and though I cannot disappear, I have hunted many wild and wary things and I can usually avoid being seen, if I wish. Now, I was behind the hedge this evening on the Road west of Bree, when four hobbits came out of the Downlands. I need not repeat all that they said to old Bombadil or to one another, but one thing interested me. Please remember, said one of them, that the name Baggins must not be mentioned. I am Mr. Underhill, if any name must be given. That interested me so much that I followed them here. I slipped over the gate just behind them. Maybe Mr. Baggins has an honest reason for leaving his name behind; but if so, I should advise him and his friends to be more careful.'

'I don't see what interest my name has for any one in Bree,' said Frodo angrily, 'and I have still to learn why it interests you. Mr. Strider may have an honest reason for spying and eavesdropping; but if so, I should advise him to explain it.'

'Well answered!' said Strider laughing. 'But the explanation is simple: I was looking for a Hobbit called Frodo Baggins. I wanted to find him quickly. I had learned that he was carrying out of the Shire, well, a secret that concerned me and my friends.

(The Lord of the Rings - Book II - Chapter 10)

12

Aragorn was looking for a Hobbit named Baggins. (Explained in Edlothiad's answer): Gandalf had discussed about Frodo and the Ring to Aragorn.

I need not repeat all that they said to old Bombadil or to one another, but one thing interested me. Please remember; said one of them, that the name Baggins must not be mentioned. I am Mr Underhill, if any name must be given.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Chapter X: Strider

Of course, this piqued Aragorn's curiosity and he then followed the Hobbits to confirm that that 'Baggins' Hobbit was Frodo.

'Would it? Would any of you have believed me till now?' said Strider. 'I knew nothing of this letter. For all I knew I had to persuade you to trust me without proofs, if I was to help you. In any case, I did not intend to tell you all about myself at once. I had to study you first, and make sure of you. The Enemy has set traps for me before now.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Chapter X: Strider

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