Sam: “I made a promise, Mr. Frodo. A promise. Don’t you leave him, Samwise Gamgee. And I don’t mean to. I don’t mean to.”
—The Fellowship of the Ring
When Frodo breaks off from his companions at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring, all except Sam willingly let him go, understanding his decision to travel alone. As Frodo rows away from shore, Sam, who cannot swim, runs into the water after him. Sam quickly starts drowning, and Frodo reaches into the water to save him. Once aboard the boat, Sam uses these words to explain his refusal to let Frodo go on alone. The promise he refers to is the promise he made to Gandalf when Gandalf recruited him to be Frodo’s traveling partner. Sam may seem like just a bumbling hobbit, but his steadfastness, even in the face of Frodo’s willful determination, shows him to have a tough inner core that will prove invaluable to Frodo as the journey continues.
Sam’s affirmation of his promise to stay with Frodo suggests how fully interdependent the two friends are. From this point on, Sam will be Frodo’s protector, but here, Frodo protects Sam’s life. As harsh and solitary as Frodo’s task is, Sam is always right beside him, providing as much support as possible. As pure a heart as Frodo must have to bear the ring and destroy it in Mount Doom, Sam must have a similarly pure heart to support his friend so completely and never desire the ring for himself. With his actions and these words, Sam shows that his relationship with Frodo is different from everyone else’s, and he contradicts Galadriel’s message about the breakup of the fellowship of the ring. The fellowship, Sam’s actions and words suggest, has merely been reconstituted from a group of nine to a group of two. With these words, Sam shows that he, like Frodo, understands the nature of his mission.