Mount Doom (chapter)
Mount Doom is the third chapter of the sixth book in The Return of the King.
The next morning, Sam gains new strength and a grim sense of responsibility. He wakes Frodo and pushes him on toward Orodruin. The land before them is cold and dead, dotted by countless craters and hollows. The Hobbits crawl eastward from hiding place to hiding place. After a few miles, Frodo is nearly spent, his mind and body tormented by the terrible weight of the Ring. He refuses to give the Ring to Sam, for he knows he is held by its power. The two decide to take to the road once again. All eyes in Mordor are turned to the west, where the Captains march toward Morannon.
After three draining days of travel, Frodo’s limbs give way and he falls, exhausted. Sam picks Frodo up and carries him on his back. Before nightfall, they reach the foot of the mountain. Sam carefully makes his way up the slope. It is nearly morning. For a moment, the shadows dissipate, and Sam can see the flicker of the piercing Eye from Sauron’s Dark Tower. Its gaze passes by the hobbits and turns to the north, focusing on the Captains of the West. However, the glimpse of Sauron’s power causes Frodo to panic. His hand grasps for the Ring around his neck, and he cries for Sam’s help. Sam kneels beside Frodo and gently holds his master’s palms together in his lap.
Afraid Sauron has spotted them, Sam takes Frodo upon his shoulders once more and continues up the mountain. With much difficulty, they finally reach the top. Sam looks down over a great cliff into the burning Cracks of Doom below. Suddenly, a cruel weight hits Sam from behind, and he falls forward. Behind him, he hears the voice of Gollum, cursing Frodo viciously for his treachery. Frodo and Gollum engage in a violent struggle, and Gollum proves stronger than the weakened Frodo. Suddenly, Frodo commands Gollum, “Begone, and trouble me no more!” and the creature falls to his knees. Frodo presses on to the Cracks of Doom. Sam, tempted to slay Gollum with his sword, refrains out of pity. Gollum slinks away.
Reaching the Cracks, Frodo turns to Sam and, with a voice clearer than Sam has ever heard, informs him that he will not complete the quest. The Ring, Frodo declares, is his. He puts the Ring on his finger and vanishes. Sam is once again flung aside, and then he sees a dark shape leap over him. Just as Sam looks up, the Great Eye of Sauron suddenly becomes aware of Frodo. The eight remaining Nazgûl hurtle toward the mountain at terrifying speed.
Sam sees Gollum struggling with an invisible enemy, biting at the air viciously. Frodo suddenly reappears, his hand bleeding from his severed finger. Gollum pulls Frodo’s finger and the Ring from his mouth joyfully, but then steps backward, unaware that he is close to the edge of the cliff. Gollum then falls, along with the Ring, into the Cracks of Doom. Mount Doom shakes violently as it accepts and consumes the Ring. Sam runs out into the daylight, carrying Frodo. The Nazgûl wither in the fiery ruin of the hill. Frodo stands by Sam’s side, himself again. Sam feels overjoyed, and Frodo explains that, were it not for Gollum, he would not have been able to finish the quest. Frodo says he is glad to be with Sam “at the end of all things.”