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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 '15 at 21:49
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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 '14 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 '14 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. – maguirenumber6 Jan 3 '17 at 13:17
  • @maguirenumber6 If Cirdan was still there, then Sam was not the last of the Ringbearers, or at least was only joint last. Cirdan too was a Ringbearer, since he bore Narya before he gave it to Gandalf. – Mike Scott Jun 22 '17 at 13:31
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    @MikeScott: It's referring to bearers of the One Ring. – Shamshiel Jun 22 '17 at 21:19

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