The Gospel According to The Lord of the Rings: Week 37, Watch and Wait

As Merry and Pippin come under the care of Treebeard, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli track the pair into the forest of Fangorn. There, the three see an old man approaching. Fearing it might be Saruman, Gimli tells Legolas to shoot the old man dead before they can be attacked with a bewitchment.

And here in this moment Fleming Rutledge's close reading of the text picks up another hint of the deep narrative of story:

Legolas took his bow and bent it, slowly and as if some other will resisted him. He held an arrow loosely in his hand but did not fit it to the string...

"Why are you waiting?..." [hissed Gimli].

"Legolas is right," said Aragorn quietly. "We may not shoot an old man so, at unawares and unchallenged, whatever fear or doubt be on us. Watch and wait!"

We've frequently highlighted the deep narrative, so the point should be obvious by now. Legolas doesn't quickly shoot the old man, he acts slowly "as if some other will resisted him." It's another subtle line about the "something else at work" that, when traced by Rutledge's close reading, shows up over and over again in the story. 

Rutledge also examines Aragorn's actions in this moment as well. 

First, we see a "habit of mercy" reappearing in the story, a habit that will return again and again in the drama to come, a habit that will in the end prove decisive. 

And second, the call to "watch and wait," a richly biblical motif, mixes with the deep narrative in highlighting the complementary nature between the "other will" and the choices of the characters. The "other will" doesn't override or bully. Rather, it creates a space for wise discernment and reflection. The "other will" doesn't coerce, it makes room, creating a capacity for choice.

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