It seems that even in thoughts and prayers, poor Sam is thought of as "lesser than" Frodo, if even included whatsoever:

All now took leave of the Lord of the City and went to rest while they still could. Outside there was a starless blackness as Gandalf, with Pippin beside him bearing a small torch, made his way to their lodging. They did not speak until they were behind closed doors. Then at last Pippin took Gandalf’s hand.

‘Tell me,’ he said, ‘is there any hope? For Frodo, I mean; or at least mostly for Frodo.’

Gandalf put his hand on Pippin’s head. ‘There never was much hope,’ he answered. ‘Just a fool’s hope, as I have been told.

Later, I believe that even the book itself refers to "Frodo", as if he's on a solo mission. But it's far more serious when a "great friend" of his (Pippin) thinks "mostly" of Frodo.

Why is Pippin thinking "mostly" of Frodo, and ignoring Sam? Or have I misread it completely?

  • 3
    It seems more like a rant about Sam being considered lesser by others (and probably by the author)
    – Valorum
    Jul 20, 2022 at 18:20
  • 6
    Unless I'm missing something, Frodo is the ring-bearer and therefore inherently more important to the mission than Sam, so it would make sense for Pippin (and others) to be more concerned about him than about Sam.
    – F1Krazy
    Jul 20, 2022 at 18:28
  • Is this a question about Pippin's meaning or about Sam's class? Jul 20, 2022 at 19:51

3 Answers 3


You're misunderstanding Pippin's meaning.

‘Tell me,’ he said, ‘is there any hope? For Frodo, I mean; or at least mostly for Frodo.’

"Is there any hope?" could be taken to mean: Is there any hope in general? For anybody?

That's why Pippin then specifies: "For Frodo, I mean."

But as he vocalizes it, he realizes he isn't just wondering about hopes for Frodo, but for all of them, which is why he then says "or at least mostly for Frodo."

Frodo has the most important task of any of them, and all their hopes hang primarily on him.

But given that they're all defending Minas Tirith against a siege by overwhelming numbers, Pippin would also like to know whether there's any hope for the rest of them: even if Frodo succeeds in his quest to unmake the ring, will there be anyone left to enjoy the victory?

None of this is meant to denigrate Sam. Frodo is the Ring-bearer. It's upon his head the task has been set. So by "Frodo," Pippin means "the quest to unmake the ring and save Middle-earth from Sauron."

  • Context matters also. They just heard the report from Faramir about meeting Frodo and Sam in Ithilien Jul 20, 2022 at 20:56

Well, that's because he is lesser, from Pippin's point of view.

As I've written here before, Sam is very much of a lower social class than the others. It's even more pronounced with Pippin, who is the son of the actual Thain of the Shire. Sam's just a servant.

Even taking class out of it, it's Frodo that's Pippin's friend, not Sam, so it's natural he would be thinking mostly of him.

And, of course, as mentioned in the comments, it's Frodo who is the Ring-bearer.

  • 4
    If he's being emotional the former, but if he's being rational very much the latter. If Sam dies, they have a funeral when it's over. If Frodo dies they either get killed or learn to like worshiping Sauron.
    – DavidW
    Jul 20, 2022 at 18:54
  • Yes. Pippin thinks well of Sam and would be sad if he died - but Sam is a servant - an adjunct to Frodo.
    – Andrew
    Jul 20, 2022 at 19:45

People usually associate something with the leadership involved, rather than the myriad workers. For example, people say so-and-so built a bridge or climbed Mount Everest, yet such tasks aren't possible without the help of others.

The Ring wouldn't even have been destroyed if not for Gollum, but history is likely to forget that. In the Akallabêth it is summarized:

For Frodo the Halfling, it is said, at the bidding of Mithrandir took on himself the burden, and alone with his servant he passed through peril and darkness and came at last in Sauron’s despite even to Mount Doom; and there into the Fire where it was wrought he cast the Great Ring of Power, and so at last it was unmade and its evil consumed.

At least Sam gets almost a mention in this passage.

So Pippin is referring to the mission, rather than Frodo as a person.

  • 2
    The literary term for this type of indirect reference is metonymy. Jun 2, 2023 at 14:32
  • @NuclearHoagie This may be getting off topic, but would Synecdoche be better? After Googling, I'm still unclear on the differences. Jun 2, 2023 at 14:47
  • Synecdoche is a type of metonymy where a part is used to refer to the whole, like in "boots" for soldiers, or "eyes" for viewers. Metonymy is a bit more general in that the reference isn't necessarily a part, like "Washington" referring to the US government. They are very close terms, and both could be reasonably applied here, but I suppose one could quibble about exactly what Pippin is alluding to and whether it's truly synecdoche or merely metonymy. Jun 2, 2023 at 15:27

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