"Well, I'm Back" - WTF? [Lord of the Rings ending]

I’ve been wondering this for decades, but just getting around now to asking the Dope community: What’s up with Tolkien’s line, “Well, I’m back” to wrap up his magnum opus of Lord of the Rings? I did a search, but couldn’t find a thread on this topic. Clearly Peter Jackson bought into it, so there must be some value to it. But it is eluding me.

It just seems so… well, anti-climactic! Is there some significance that I’m missing? Or is anti-climax the whole point for some reason?

Well, he came home, his beloved wife greeted him and put their beloved kid in his lap. So Sam got the happy ending that Frodo didn’t. I always thought that was the point, but I agree it’s quite ambiguous.

ETA: you might get better response if you’d put “LOTR” or similar in your thread title.

It is anticlimactic. It’s intended to be! The adventure is over, and Sam, the most sensible of all the Hobbits, is about to tuck into a big dish of taters and 'shrooms. He’s happy that the big doings are behind him. Those goings-on were never to his taste anyway (though he did admire seeing Elves.)

It’s a very human (so to speak) line, and puts Sam four-square in the heart of the Shire, hairy feet on the ground, where his brand of common sense has value.

A great line? No. But it is memorable.

(It’s somewhat comparable to, “The affair is over. I am done.”) :wink:

Tolkein’s works were deeply nostalgic. His ideal wasn’t going forward. For him, the best goal was to get back to where you had been in the past.

I saw what you did there. Always good to meet a fellow fan does the secret Institute handshake

The Hobbit was subtitled There and Back Again. This described Bilbo’s adventure away from Hobbiton to defeat a dragon and find the One Ring along the way.

Sam saying “Well, I’m back” signifies it’s the end of his adventure away from Hobbiton to destroy the One Ring. The Lord of the Rings was really about Sam and his hero’s quest.

Please also realize that it wasn’t originally the final line of LOTR. JRRT had written a whole chapter which followed, taking place years after Frodo’s departure. In it, Sam explains to his now older kids (and perhaps even grand-kids) what the whole big deal was, back in the day. King Elessar is coming for a visit to the Shire, and he’s trying to put everything into context.

It was quite the interesting read, but didn’t really fit that well with the rest of the tale, IMHO.

Where would one find this last chapter?

It’s in one of the Histories of Middle Earth.

I have always thought of the average guy returning to England after the Second World War.

Tolkein and I see eye to eye on this. The best possible reward is to come back to a home and family and resume a nice simple life. I love that ending.

Pretty sure that was the intent (although pretty sure you meant WWI). Tolkien was more than a bit traumatized by the war, and I think that line of Sam’s was intended as a direct comparison to Frodo, who represents all of the people who weren’t able to recover from the war and enjoy their lives and families - either they were dead, or horribly physically wounded, or horribly mentally/psychically wounded. Personally, that ending seems really positive to me: as long as at least SOMEONE is able to come out of war and recover and bring leadership and stability back home (Sam and Merry and Pip) then the horrors of the fight are worth it, even though the light is fading and the elves fade away.

In “Sauron Defeated”, IIRC. A HOMES book, as noted already.

The quest may be over and the notables gone to their glory, but for the common man and woman, life goes on, as it always has.

I seem to recall that most of his class mates in school were killed in WWI.
I think of WWII because he was mailing chapters to his son who was in the military.

Ahh, that makes sense. I had forgotten about Chris being in the… airforce?

It emphasizes how, after all the traumas of the War of the Ring, indeed, the whole of Sauron’s career, everything is now back to normal, to how it should be.

Yes, anticlimax is the point. Remember, hobbits, in particular, never approved of adventures. They were to be undertaken only when absolutely necessary, and Sam, unlike the aristocratic Bilbo, Frodo, Merry, and Pippin, is the quintessential “ordinary” hobbit.

I believe so.

Cute, but I must respectfully disagree. When Gersen said “The affair is over. I am done.” he meant it literally; his life had been all about his quest. Like many of us, he was defined by his “demons.” Now that the demons had been exorcised and the quest was over, so was he. It was his tragedy.

Now this I like. A wrap-back to “there and back again” ties it up quite tidily. Thanks!

Exactly. Hearth and home is where happiness is, especially for Hobbits. The whole point of getting rid of The One Ring was so that people could live their lives again. The rightful king sits on the thrown, Sauron is defeated, and The Shire is as it was.

Tolkien was not a huge fan of what most of us would call technological progress.