There is no canon material that portrays Frodo’s experience in Tol Eressea across the Sea. In Letter #246, Tolkien described it as a sort of good experience for him. This famous letter was written thirteen years after Tolkien had finished writing LotR (LotR was submitted for publication in 1950, but was not accepted at once; RotK was not printed until 1955). He would have had plenty of time to mull over what he meant and didn't mean in the book that had engrossed him.
Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him – if that could be done, before he died (…) 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 and amid the natural beauty of ‘Arda Unmarred’, the Earth unspoiled by evil.
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 evene in an earthly paradise without a companion of his own kind., and Bilbo was the person Frodo most loved.”
~ 1963, to Eileen Elgar
Frodo needed a hobbit’s companionship. His creator said so. But although Tolkien said Frodo loved Bilbo best: his mentor, grown-up friend, fellow-scholar and appreciator of the finer things, not to mention surrogate parent, he certainly loved Sam, too. Frodo had gone through things with Sam he’d not gone through with anyone else, and Sam had stuck by him. Like Frodo, Sam had seen beautiful things and terrible things. Terrible things like the plain or Gorgoroth and Shelob's tunnel, but, more importantly from Frodo's point of view, terrible things Frodo thought he'd done -- and been. It was Sam, then, perhaps even more than Bilbo, who was specially suited to help Frodo through whatever he needed to get through in his “purgatory”, learning his position in both his littleness and greatness.
“Friend of friends”, Frodo called Sam. Whether one reads that as meant the way Tolkien no doubt meant it (as a platonic regard) or as slash, it’s a strong confession of attachment and esteem. Before the Quest, although Frodo and Sam appeared to be long-acquainted, regarding each other with friendliness (and, perhaps, a degree of hero-worship from Sam's side), they did not seem to know each other very well. They were not intimate. That would come in the trenches. The unbreakable bond that was forged between them was forged in shared experience: of wonder and beauty, fatigue and privation, struggle and suffering; surviving against all odds.
Therefore, however healing and beautiful were the Undying Lands -- however gracious, kind and loving his friends there -- it seems to me that Frodo would still miss Sam.
In the LJ entry, “Frodo Writes the Red Book, Pt. III”, ms_banazira made a comment very helpful to my understanding of Frodo and Sam’s relationship. I want to repeat it here:
[A] couple of times this week I've caught the middle of a radio story about a Viet Nam vet, and what he went through after he came back in terms of PTSD, and bad memories. He said that when he first came back his friends would has "what was it like?" and he'd tell them things. Too many things, details they didn't want to hear and that he himself had a hard time living with. Soon his "friends" didn't come around anymore. He felt different than everyone else, and became quite isolated for more than two decades. Happily, he eventually found his way out - partly through making contact with other vets on the net.
That must have been the kind of thing that Tolkien was writing about when he has Frodo say coming home is like "falling asleep again." And listening to this gentleman's story on the radio has got me thinking about that brief discussion we had a few weeks ago about the other three hobbits, and how they coped back at home. For me it brings new perspective to Merry and Pippin sharing Crickhollow for so many years; it must be comforting - when the shadow falls on you - to know that there is only empathy for your momentary confusion and panic.
I am sure that while Frodo was still at Bag End, Sam and Frodo were a help to each other the way ms_banazira suggests Merry and Pippin were at Crickhollow: two intimate friends who had been through much together, with whom they could share and process what had happened. Folk were not interested in hearing the tales of the four Travellers, especially Frodo’s, Tolkien wrote.
Hobbits were said habitually not to dwell on dark things (unlike us moderns), but to press on with what cheer they could muster, putting it behind them. Yet there are many ways to “talk” about shared negative experience, ways without words. It could be as subtle as Merry passing Pippin in the parlour, noticing his younger cousin standing stock-still, staring glassy-eyed into the reflections on the window pane. Was it the Palantír? Visions of Denethor burning in the pyre? An exchange of glances would confirm it (or not), and a sense of mutual understanding would be reached. A nod and a smile, a press of a shoulder would deliver the consolation and encouragement needed. Or Merry would be laughing over some tale of life as the smallest adult in Edoras, look at his pipe from Théoden and burst into tears. Pippin would not need to ask why his friend wept.
The same with Frodo and Sam. Even if Frodo did most of his talking in words to a sheet of parchment with a pen, there would be all those little moments. If Sam should crush a spider crawling across the tiles with unnecessary vengeance, a shared look would tell all: I know. If they overheard farmers at the Ivy Bush speaking of the King, speculating whether they need pay any mind to his edicts (“Who is he when all’s said and done? Some ranger-fellow!”) – if Took cousins at a Lithe fête laughed that their ancestor had bedded a faerie wife, too, so what did the King have to brag of?, Frodo and Sam would be able to stifle their indignation, roll their eyes at each other and shrug. And if they stood before the mallorn on the Party Field, each would know that the other saw not just the graceful sapling rising before them but the towering trees of Caras Galadhon, and heard the singing of the Elves in the flets unseen above, and felt the breezes of Lórien fragrant and soft on their faces.
Yes, I am sure Frodo missed Sam not only for his hobbity company, but because Sam was Sam, and what they shared. If Bilbo died early on, leaving Frodo without any hobbit company at all, all the more would Frodo yearn for Sam’s companionship.
Whatever fans think about the nature of Frodo and Sam’s relationship – whether they were each other’s “friend of friends” or “lover of lovers” or both – any fan would agree that their relationship was bound by love that sprang from shared intense experience, which they shared with no one else. Frodo, with few truly close companions in his home across the Sea, perhaps would miss Sam more, anticipating his coming one day with real longing. Jan-u-wine’s short prose piece, Soon, acutely listens to Frodo’s heart and thoughts as he anticipates Sam’s coming.
For illustrations, I turned to the scene in which Frodo makes his decision about going on along on the banks of the Anduin, from FotR. His face in these scenes express many subtle nuances of feeling. I thought they would do very well.
~ Frodo on the banks of the Anduin in FotR, full-screen version of the theatrical edition:
~ by jan-u-wine
He does not know what year it might be, the woven skein of time being no longer something he counts nor considers.
Somehow, when the season has danced from puff-clouded spring to clear-sky'd summer, days moving the sun in almost sullen cadence, somehow, he feels disquieted, the dull stab of a sorrow either buried, or not as yet perceived, worrying the edges of his dreams.
Only colour, they were, colour, or the horrified lack thereof, as if all the world had fallen into to a void wherein nothing might live.
Sound. A thin keening that he did not remember upon waking, an echo of grief balanced upon the very edge of hearing.
He told no one, for what, indeed, had he to tell? That dreams of *nothing*, dreams he could not even recall, brought him to frighted tears, brought him, running, to where waves laced and foamed against black rock, walking, walking.......
walking, so that he might not dream.
And in the walking, in the wheeling of the stars and the sun, in the rain that fell without warning, joining its grey life to that of the Sea, he knows, of a sudden, the year-day it must be, and a cloud of feeling claims him, joy and muted pain striving equally within.
And he sees it, sees Home, sees the Harvest, all brought in and settled away, neat, as would be a Gardner's wont, sees the journals, final pages writ with a large, square, careful hand and placed upon a dustless shelf, sees the familiar pack and stick and the pony waiting beyond the door.
There is a lad there, a lad he does not know, a lad weeping and fastening a soft-woven grey cloak about aged (yet unbent!) shoulders.
And he sees (yet does not hear) the lad's name fall from lips struggling with a smile, fast-followed by an embrace whose ferocity he knows well.
And the stars and the sun wheel by again, mere glancing light upon the great time-river.
Overcome by all he has seen, felt, *heard* in the seeming space of a moment, he falls to sleep upon the salt-laced strand, empty crab-cases and bits of gem'd sea-weed lying close about him, retreating tide weaving half-circles in the drying sand.
Again, he dreams.
And remembers, upon the waking:
He remembers, and the confusion of images straightens itself, clears to curved clarity, moment cascading to moment, like the visions he saw long ago within the Lady's mirror.
A garden, the scent of the Sea mingled with roses, and a lass, gold hair threaded by grey. Another farewell, a crimson book passing hand-to-hand, smiles leavened by salt.
The sharp-soft clip of hooves, the silver'd half-moon of the harbour, guardian cliff-walls and horizon rose-gold with sunset.
The tide, running swift and cold and green-grey along a near-empty quay.
Unsteady feet upon an upward-climbing plank (and he can feel them, now, feel them, as if they were his own, feel the uncertainty and a heart divided, even at the last).
A final glance behind, then a roughened hand upon a roughened rope, and mistrusting toes gripping a gently rising deck.
And he had not recalled, til now, just how this journey might be, not recalled the wind, strong and sweet, filling hearts and sails with studied ease, nor the Song growing as orange-pink sky gives way to sheeted night.
He had not recalled, either, the great silence which fell, sudden, yet not fearful, (as such silences might be), but full of misted waiting, like the moment between the birthing of a babe and its first knowing cry.
And he bows his head, listening as the Song creeps back into the silence, weaving itself within the gaps and spaces there, pausing and starting and pausing again, notes and phrases and silences turning with and upon each other, and ending with a quiet which still bespeaks them all.
Soon, he knows (though "soon" in this place is only a word he uses to hold separate that which has not happened from that which *has*), soon, there will be a sail, dipping white upon the bright blue diamond of the Sea.
~ “Gulls”, by Justin Cherry..
Previous screencap entry (“Sam Grieves by the Shore” ~ caps from FotR, jan-u-wine's "Not So Easily Mended) HERE.
Next entry ("A Life Remembered" ~ caps from the Grey Havens, "A Sailor's Quest" by jan-u-wine) HERE.
Listing of all Frodo Screencap entries HERE.