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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 12:22 pm 
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On another site that I occasionally visit, one poster presented this thought:

In The Children of Húrin, Saeros insults Túrin by asking if the women of his people run around clad in nothing but their hair. Túrin, after beating off Saeros's attack the next day, forces him to run through the woods naked. Later, after Nienor gets under Glaurung's curse, she casts all her clothes away while running away from Mablung's company, and is naked when the men of Brethil find her.

The exchange between Saeros and Túrin happened in Doriath, and therefore, Morgoth (or Glaurung) could not know about it. Yet, Nienor very ironically acts just like in Saeros's scornful words. So, if her behaviour couldn't have been directly caused by Morgoth, was it caused by some action by Eru?

Eru is supposed to be the Christian God, the one that Tolkien believed in. So, in essence, this question boils down to Tolkien's conception of God. Could his God have decided: You humiliated this elf by forcing him run around naked so, I'll humiliate your sister by making her run around naked, and so making the mockery by the elf come true?

The original poster seemed to think that Eru could do something like that. But, does that conception of Eru represent Tolkien's God, or just the poster's?

I'm curious to hear what people here think.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 3:23 pm 
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The poster's. :) Of course, on a fundatmental level, everything that happens in Eä finds its uttermost source in Eru, but I do not believe that He would take such a direct role in something like this. It is a rare occasion where He inserts the Hand of God into the World (such as when interjected the third theme into the Music to bring His Children into the Tale) or perhaps tipping Gollum over the edge of the cracks of Doom.

Tolkien's work is full of such parallels. Another one in CoH is that as a child Túrin kindly befriends Sador and calls him Labadal - hop-a-foot in a loving manner. But then he mocks Brandir's lameness by calling him "clubfoot" just before he unjustly slays him.

On the other hand, why exactly does Nienor throw off all her clothes as she flees from the darkness? That has always been something of a mystery to me.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 3:54 pm 
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Clothes are a carrier of constructed identity. We dress in a way that indicates who we are and who we THINK we are. Losing the clothing in this case is symbolic of her loss of memory and of the sense of self she had had.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 4:05 pm 
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Do you think there is any connection to Saeros' taunt? I've never really considered that before, but when you think about, it seems like there must be.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 6:36 pm 
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I think there is an ironic connection, yes, but only an ironic connection. It is a particularly sardonic working out of the curse of Morgoth, though, not the hand of Eru. And it's a wicked-good use of foreshadowing.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 7:30 pm 
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Yes, Tolkien was very big on that foreshadowing thang.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 1:09 pm 
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Thanks for your input, V and Ax. :) You seem to be very much of the same opinion as I am; I also see the original poster's interpretation as his own, not as something Tolkien was thinking.

I'd still be interested in hearing from the practising Catholics here; although Tolkien was probably much more conservative than any of you, he was of the same faith, and therefore, your view of God/Eru might be rather close to his.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2007 12:01 am 
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The ironic parallel is pushed further by their ends: Saeros is killed falling into a stream-gorge, 'wide for a deer-leap;' and Nienor kills herslf by plunging into the Teiglin ravine at Cabed-en-Aras, the Deer's Leap.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2007 12:07 am 
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Very good point, solicitr! There is no way that is merely coincidental.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2007 4:25 am 
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In Christian imagery, nakedness was originally the natural state of man, and not shameful.

It was only in bringing sin into the world that such an association began to be made.

Saeros implies that latter meaning, of shame, in his scornful words, and Túrin takes them as such, accepting the existence of a fallen world, of Arda marred.

But Nienor, in becoming naked, is not shameful. She returns to a state of innocence, forgetting all, as if unaffected by the Fall. Túrin meeting her in this state of innocence, finds real happiness.

It is only in learning again the Truth, the bitter fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, that the idea of shame returns. The Truth is revealed by the great worm Glauring (the Serpent). The "constructed identity" (to use Axordil's term) that Túrin and Nienor had clothed themselves in as husband and wife is ripped away, revealing a nakedness of the spirit in which true shame is achieved as the price of that knowledge.

The shame in nakedness and the need to be clothed is, on a symbolic level, less about uncovering or covering the body than it is a metaphor for living in a fallen world.

BrianIs :) AtYou

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2007 5:27 am 
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Whoa, Brian! Superb post! I had never thought of the Eden parallels here.

There's another way of seeing it as well- Nienor shedding her clothes in her flight is in a way akin to Túrin shedding his successive names in his flight from Fate.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2007 5:53 am 
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Excellent, Brian! That's just the type of subtle Judeo-Christian symbolism that Tolkien would include, without including making it at all explicit.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2007 6:33 am 
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That is a brilliant post, Brian. Thanks.

I am still trying to find my way into all of this, and your post helps.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2007 10:56 am 
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* :bow: to Brian*

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 1:47 am 
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And now for something completely different. :D

On the purely practical side, if Nienor had been clad in the clothes of Menegroth (which I assume she would be, given that she had been living there) then surely Túrin would have recognized that, wouldn't he? And in doing so, wouldn't it have been possible for him to draw some conclusions (or at least, form some doubts) about this mortal woman and her connection to Doriath that most likely would not have resulted in his marriage to her? Tolkien, as a writer, must have seen that potential problem, and so needed to remove (8) ) any and all clues to her identity from Túrin. That he could so masterfully weave such a basic practicality of the tale into a "particularly sardonic working out of the curse of Morgoth", as Ax phrased it, is a testament to his skills as a story-teller.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 1:59 am 
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Ath, that has never once occurred to me before, and yet now that you have stated it, it is obvious.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 4:17 am 
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This came up during our smial discussion of the book. Nienor looks like a female version of Húrin! Did he forget what his father looked like? Or what the women of Dor-lómin looked like? Wouldn't Nienor at least look familiar? And while that might not have ultimately stopped the marriage, maybe Túrin would have thought a little harder before proposing.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 7:43 am 
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It may well be that, Túrin's memory of his father was a bit faded after the twentysomething years that had passed since Húrin went to war and never returned. On the other hand, there must have been some kind of a feeling of familiarity, which advanced Túrin's falling in love with Nienor.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 2:38 pm 
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Rowanberry has the gist of it, I believe. Remember, it's not like Túrin had wallet photos of his dad to look at, and he had been quite young when Húrin departed. Any familiarity would have been interpreted as something else--attractiveness, perhaps. Some people are physically attracted to those with a resemblance to their own or their family's features.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 5:07 pm 
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I do recall that in CoH itself or in related notes, Túrin's falling for Finduilas was said to be in part due to her physical resemblance to his kin.


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