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It's been quite some time since I read the actual books but in the movies at least at the end Frodo and Bilbo are granted passage on the last ship out of the Grey Havens to Valinor.

As I understand it, no mortal soul is permitted to set foot on Valinor... ever. This is even the reason Númenor was sunk; Ar-Pharazôn the Golden attempted to invade and the Valar sunk Númenor and destroyed his fleet in punishment. So why are the Hobbits allowed?

Is it simply because of their bearing the One Ring? That makes little sense to me; certainly there have been other mortals whose deeds have been equally heroic and selfless in the past who were denied Valinor.

Is that really the reason though? That Frodo and Bilbo were bearers of the One Ring?

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    They hitch-hiked elven ship :D
    – Mithoron
    Mar 1, 2015 at 21:49

2 Answers 2

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Gandalf, as the representative of the Valar, allowed Frodo and Bilbo to go - Frodo after Arwen intervened on his behalf, and argued that since she had given up her right to go West, it should be given to Frodo.

Here is what the Letters say (letter 246):

It is not made explicit how she could arrange this. She could not of course just transfer her ticket on the boat like that! For any except those of Elvish race 'sailing West' was not permitted, and any exception required 'authority', and she was not in direct communication with the Valar, especially not since her choice to become 'mortal'. What is meant is that it was Arwen who first thought of sending Frodo into the West, and put in a plea for him to Gandalf (direct or through Galadriel, or both), and she used her own renunciation of the right to go West as an argument. Her renunciation and suffering were related to and enmeshed with Frodo's : both were parts of a plan for the regeneration of the state of Men. Her prayer might therefore be specially effective, and her plan have a certain equity of exchange. No doubt it was Gandalf who was the authority that accepted her plea.

Gandalf's personal feelings came into it, too:

Bilbo went too. No doubt as a completion of the plan due to Gandalf himself. Gandalf had a very great affection for Bilbo, from the hobbit's childhood onwards. His companionship was really necessary for Frodo's sake – it is difficult to imagine a hobbit, even one who had been through Frodo's experiences, being really happy even in an earthly paradise without a companion of his own kind, and Bilbo was the person that Frodo most loved. (Cf III 252 lines 12 to 21 and 263 lines 1-2.)2 But he also needed and deserved the favour on his own account.

Of course, they did not become immortal:

Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him – if that could be done, before he died. He would have eventually to 'pass away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within Time. So he went both to a purgatory and to a reward, for a while: a period of reflection and peace and a gaining of a truer understanding of his position in littleness and in greatness, spent still in Time amid the natural beauty of 'Arda Unmarred', the Earth unspoiled by evil.

So basically, Bilbo and Frodo (and perhaps Sam) were allowed to sail West because they directly suffered in fulfilling the special plans of Eru and the Valar, because Gandalf liked them, and because Arwen wanted healing for them.

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    +1 Your last paragraph mentions Sam possibly going with them... What is that based on?
    – AncientSwordRage
    Jan 18, 2014 at 9:13
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    @Pureferret Appendix B for year 1482 "…the tradition is handed down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey Havens, and passed over Sea, last of the Ring-bearers."
    – Richard
    Jan 18, 2014 at 10:03
  • @Richard I imagine that Cirdan the Shipwright was still there, waiting for him. He must have been a very tired old Elf by that time. Jan 3, 2017 at 13:17
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    @MikeScott: It's referring to bearers of the One Ring.
    – Shamshiel
    Jun 22, 2017 at 21:19
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    @iMerchant One could argue that. However, Gandalf never touched the ring. For me, a ringbearer is someone who has actually worn the ring on their finger with the ring taking effect. Then there are six known ringbearers: its maker, Isildur, Gollum/Smeagol, Bilbo, Frodo and Sam. Deagol touched the ring, but never wore it. Bombadil wore the ring without an effect.
    – Mirko
    Jun 29, 2021 at 12:50
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Sam, Gimli and Frodo all go to The Undying Lands. Frodo and Sam were ring bearers. Sam carried the ring when he believed Frodo to be dead at the winding staircase. They are granted passage to The Undying Lands like all the other ring bearers with pure intentions or intentions that didn't harm others. Tolkien also wrote that Gimli who wasn't a ring bearer was also granted passage and travels with Legalos to The Undying Lands because of his strength and pure intentions during The Fellowship and The Twin Towers. The ring was evil and those who possessed it or were one of the few who fought to protect middle earth and all people (not just their kingdom and families) were given this gift. The ring carried heavy consequences even after possession. It left a burden in the hearts of those who wielded the ring for years passed the destruction of it. From what I've gathered it's like PTSD. After the trauma the pain and hurt is still there living and festering and is relentless making happiness a dream that is less than vivid for those who possessed the ring. So they were allowed to heal these wounds in The Undying Lands until they felt resolution or death.

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    – fez
    Jan 11 at 5:53
  • Why would being a ring bearer matter to "The Undying Lands"? The rings are quite "young" entities. Why would anybody in Valinor give a rats ass about some goblin like creature, such as hobbits, having carried a magic ring for a couple of days, as in the case of Sam.
    – Jakob
    Jan 11 at 14:08
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    @Jakob …Because they knew about the Ring’s connection to Sauron and what they had to go through to destroy it/finally put an end to him? Remember not everyone in Aman was born there, even among the Elves there there were veterans of the various wars with Morgoth and later Sauron. Jan 11 at 15:26
  • @Jakob Read the Letters. You'll find a lot out there including the answer to your question.
    – Pryftan
    Jan 12 at 20:38
  • @suchiuomizu Sam? I can buy that argument for Frodo...but Sam?
    – Jakob
    Jan 17 at 10:39

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