[I am listening to LoTR and currently up to Book 6, Chapter 5.]

Gollum realized Frodo and Sam were headed for Mount Doom. Ostensibly, he had followed them, despite being held in an Orc tower and their efforts to throw him off by disposing of their items. So, when they made it Mt Doom, he was there simply because he followed them, not because he knew what they were doing. But on Mount Doom, Gollum attacks Frodo because he knows they are going to destroy the ring. Does he even know of the link between Mount Doom and the ring?

Two related, smaller questions. How did Gollum detect where Frodo's hand was to bite the finger? And most inconsequential, did Gollum wear the ring after he retrieved it?

  • 1
    Is this correct? Gollum attacks Frodo after Frodo decides to not destroy the ring but rather to claim it as it's master. (If memory serves me.) Gollum could barely tolerate Frodo as the Ring's possessor, much less as it's master. (I'd also guess that the Ring was aware of the danger it was in, and was crying out to Gollum, but that' santo her matter.)
    – Wayne
    Commented May 29, 2014 at 16:52
  • Gollum attacked Frodo outside Mt Doom, when they were still climbing it. That's what delayed Sam in coming in. Commented May 29, 2014 at 21:00
  • Gollum attacked several times near the end. Once outside, where Sam cut Gollum and Frodo continued up the mountain, and then he attacked Sam inside as Sam was arguing with Frodo. He then attacked Frodo who had claimed and put on the Ring. It was during this attack that Gollum bit off the finger and fell into the lava. Obviously, Gollum wanted the Ring back and was willing (depending on whether his Smeagol or Gollum side was dominant) to scheme and attack. But the final attack came about after Frodo claimed the ring for himself and put it on, and that's the one the OP is evidently asking about.
    – Wayne
    Commented May 29, 2014 at 21:50
  • After Gollum swore on the ring that he would not attack the ring's master, he did not attack them (directly). On the mountain (outside), he attacked them, calling Frodo a traitor. In order for him to have done that, Gollum would have to know they were going to destroy the ring. And that is what i meant to ask about. Commented May 30, 2014 at 1:58

2 Answers 2


Gollum had been suspecting something since at least as early as his conversation with himself in The Passage of the Marshes:

'Yes, yes, my precious,' came the answer, 'we promised: to save our Precious, not to let Him have it – never. But it's going to Him yes, nearer every step. What's the hobbit going to do with it, we wonders, yes we wonders.'

It's not beyond the bounds of possibility that Gollum had overheard something along the way: he had been trailing the Fellowship since Moria, and in The Great River Frodo speculates that he had picked up their trail again when they left Lorien at the Silverlode, which was immediately before Galadriel's gift-giving and Celeborn's discussion of the further routes (to Mordor and Minas Tirith) to take.

The company knew that he was following them by the time they were on Anduin, and it seems reasonably certain that he may even have witnessed Frodo's confrontation with Boromir. In other words, he had ample opportunity to learn of their plans for the Ring, and even if Tolkien doesn't explicitly state when it happened (the movie is more specific: Frodo tells Gollum) it doesn't seem that he needs to.

For the second part of your question, it seems that Gollum's long possession of the Ring had given him some form of attunement to it, as Frodo indicates in The Taming of Smeagol:

Swear by it, if you will. For you know where it is. Yes, you know, Smeagol. It is before you.

Even aside from that, Gollum must surely have been able to locate Frodo's hand (and the finger with the Ring on it) by touch during their wrestle at the Crack of Doom.

For the third part of your question, Frodo's finger was still in the Ring when Gollum fell, as the scene in Mount Doom confirms:

But Gollum, dancing like a mad thing, held aloft the ring, a finger still thrust within its circle. It shone now as if verily it was wrought of living fire.

'Precious, precious, precious!' Gollum cried. 'My Precious! O my Precious!' And with that, even as his eyes were lifted up to gloat on his prize, he stepped too far, toppled, wavered for a moment on the brink, and then with a shriek he fell.

  • Very nice. Yeah, he did mentioned to Smeagol about it, i remember it now. I don't remeber the part about the finger in the ring. That's what i get for listening in the car. :) Question though, on their way into Mordor, wasn't Gollum still questioning what the plans were? Commented May 29, 2014 at 1:56
  • I'd never considered that point before. I can just imagine Gollum hiding amongst the trees on the west bank of the Anduin, tracking Frodo, and watching the entire exchange with Boromir. He must have been rather alarmed when he saw Frodo disappear. Commented May 18, 2015 at 11:58

"Throw it into the fire, Mr. Frodo!"

(Paraphrased from memory -- my books aren't handy for direct quotation at the moment.)

Frodo hems and haws quite a bit in Mt. Doom, the Ring trying to coerce him into not destroying it, and Sam doing an awful lot of shouting at his friend. At this point, Gollum would pretty much have to be completely deaf -- and an absolute moron -- not to know what's going on.

There's no indication that he knows the Ring's connection to the mountain or the fires within; on the other hand, there's also no indication that he knows that the Ring is otherwise indestructible (most of us don't go around trying to destroy rings or other pieces of jewelry that are precious to us). On the third appendage, casting it into the fires of Mt. Doom, whether he knows it would destroy the Ring or not, nonetheless makes it inaccessible to him, as he is not indestructible, and given that he wants his Precious back that alone is reason enough to attack Frodo and try to take it.

Alternatively, since betraying the hobbits and taking back the Ring has been his singular goal all along, he might have just seen the hobbits as being distracted (they were arguing, after all), and took this to be his opportunity to attack and get back his Precious. I believe it's more the former than this, however.

How did Gollum detect where Frodo's hand was to bite the finger?

By feel. He was essentially grappling Frodo at that point; the Ring only makes its wearer invisible, it doesn't make them incorporeal/ethereal/whathaveyou. It's not hard while grappling to find where the ring finger is, at least close enough to bite it, even if you can't see your opponent.

And most inconsequential, did Gollum wear the ring after he retrieved it?

This I don't know -- but it's not really important or relevant, as both he and the Ring were destroyed at that point anyway.

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    IIRC, he seemed to know Frodo wold destroy the ring when they were still outside the mountain. That was why he attacked just then. As for finding Frodo, how did he know where he was? By sound? Commented May 28, 2014 at 19:11
  • @BrianTkatch Sound, seeing footprints in the dust, his own connection to the Ring guiding him -- take your pick. Your memory is different than mine on whether Gollum knew going into the mountain what the hobbits' intentions were (as I recall he didn't), but it stands to reason he could have heard them mention it in one of the numerous "We have to keep moving, we have to destroy the Ring" moments during the journey.
    – Kromey
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 19:15
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    @Kromey - I can answer the last sub-question: Gollum never put the Ring on, as far as we can tell. He is described as holding it aloft with Frodo's finger still stuck in it, then he falls. In order to put it on, he would have to remove it from Frodo's severed finger, then put it on his own finger, all while he is falling, and all before he hits the lava.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented May 22, 2015 at 0:12

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