Inspired by these two questions, Did Faramir see Boromir's actual body, or have a vision? and What happen to Boromir's body?

When Faramir saw his older brother, Boromir, on the elven boat, he just recovers his brother's horn and bring it to his father, Denethor. Now my question is this: Why didn't Faramir just bring/recover Boromir's body to be buried in Gondor?

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    Denethor would burn it anyway, so why bother. – void_ptr Aug 10 '17 at 18:23
  • Why will he burn his own son – The Witch King of Angmar Aug 10 '17 at 18:25
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    Have you seen the movies? 'Denethor would burn it anyway' is a joke referencing the film. In the book, it seems as though Denethor means to kill Faramir via blade and, when challenged, he [Denethor] lights himself on fire. In the films, the blade scene is removed and Denethor attempts to kill himself and Faramir on a pyre. Imo - the books make it clear Faramir had a vision of Boromir on the boat, and did not actually have opportunity to recover him. The fact that he found the cloven horn is his ultimate clue that Boromir has died. – NKCampbell Aug 10 '17 at 18:30
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    However, if you want to think that he DID see the body, consider the Norse influence that Tolkien referenced for the races of men (Rohan and Gondor) - with that perspective, it isn't unreasonable to think that committing his body to the sea is as respectful as any other means of burial – NKCampbell Aug 10 '17 at 18:33

First note that Faramir didn't recover the horn from Boromir's boat (emphasis mine):

'A broken sword was on his knee. I saw many wounds on him. It was Boromir, my brother, dead. I knew his gear, his sword, his beloved face. One thing only I missed: his horn. One thing only I knew not: a fair belt, as it were of linked golden leaves, about his waist.


The horn of Boromir at least returned in truth, and not in seeming. The horn came, but it was cloven in two, as it were by axe or sword. The shards came severally to shore: one was found among the reeds where watchers of Gondor lay, northwards below the infalls of the Entwash; the other was found spinning on the flood by one who had an errand in the water.

The Two Towers Book IV Chapter 5: "The Window on the West"

That said, the question of why Faramir didn't attempt to recover his brother's body is a sensible one, so I'll continue with it.

The only explanation given in the book1 is that Faramir "dared not" touch the boat (emphasis and link mine):

Then I saw, or it seemed that I saw, a boat floating on the water, glimmering grey, a small boat of a strange fashion with a high prow. and there was none to row or steer it.

'An awe fell on me, for a pale light was round it. But I rose and went to the bank, and began to walk out into the stream, for I was drawn towards it. Then the boat turned towards me, and stayed its pace, and floated slowly by within my hand's reach, yet I durst not handle it.

The Two Towers Book IV Chapter 5: "The Window on the West"

Faramir clearly believed that the boat was magical and peculiar, and the men of Gondor are shown to be superstitious to some degree (see Boromir's comments about Lothlórien in Fellowship, for example); it's typically considered good sense to leave magical and peculiar things alone.

Another possible explanation is that he was compelled by some outside force to leave the boat alone; but we don't have enough information to speculate on who exactly (though it was almost certainly either Ilúvatar or one of the Valar) would have done the compelling, or why they would have bothered.

1 Sadly there's no clarity to be found in Tolkien's drafts, though it's fascinating to read the evolution of the story

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    FWIW - Frodo says it was a vision - and that, coupled with Boromir's words "the horn of Boromir at least returned in truth, and not in seeming" also seems to imply that he ultimately believes it was a vision as well and that the horn, missing in the vision, did indeed later appear in reality – NKCampbell Aug 10 '17 at 19:27
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    @NKCampbell I opted not to come down on the question of whether it was real or not; a fascinating question given much fairer treatment elsewhere. That said, I disagree with your assessment: Faramir's line makes just as much sense if he's unsure whether it was a vision or reality; read as "at least I know that Boromir's horn was real" – Jason Baker Aug 10 '17 at 19:32
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    agree there is enough ambiguity to not try to die on either hill - that's my upvote you've got :) – NKCampbell Aug 10 '17 at 19:42
  • More likely to be Ossë or Uinen, surely, as they govern the waters? – Daniel Roseman Aug 10 '17 at 20:00
  • @DanielRoseman I'd have said Mandos (fate) over those two, but certainly possible; perhaps it would have been more correct to say "either Ilúvatar or one of the Valar" – Jason Baker Aug 10 '17 at 20:08

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