4. Peregrin Took
After a few mutters from Frodo on how the Sackville-Bagginses are enjoying nice featherbeds while he is stuck with a tree root in his back, Pippin points out that roots make one turn in one's sleep and that sleeping in a featherbed without turning can lead to bedsores; Pippin decides Frodo is not in a receptive mood when the latter responds by stealing all his blankets.
After he is swallowed by a willow tree and nearly crushed to death as punishment for Sam's use of fire, Pippin is quite certain nothing can be more surprising; then he meets his rescuer, who seems to think the perfect complement to a blue feathered-hat and a long blue coat are the brightest, yellowest boots Pippin has ever seen.
"These table tops are slippery!" Pippin tries explaining to the startled patrons of the Prancing Pony after Frodo literally disappears before their eyes, but he finds himself scrambling for another explanation when his attempts to demonstrate just how slippery result in his feet sticking to all the spilled ale.
Seeing open concern for Frodo on the faces of Merry and Sam—and even Strider—does very little to reassure Pippin about his cousin's health, and it becomes far worse when the weather turns wet, they can find little shelter that does not drip on them, and the occasional lightning strike highlights creases of pain and fear on Frodo's face.
He tries his utmost to learn the names of all around him during the feast in Rivendell and make a good showing as a representative of the Shire—the presence of great lords and ladies keenly reminds Pippin that his father is the Thain—but the elven language is too confounding and the night too filled with stories, drink, and talk for him to remember much of it the next morning.
The dropped stone in the well results in a tap tap ping tap from Moria's depths that shatters not only the silence but also the Fellowship's fraying patience, and Pippin realizes his hope to prove that small hobbits can do great things also means the opposite: small hobbits can initiate terrible disasters.
At the time, Pippin cannot explain how he is able to traverse Lothlórien's optimistically named "bridge" so calmly and quickly, but looking back later, he realizes the trick lies in a single-minded focus that keeps his eyes off the troubled waters below and on the goal of the banks ahead—a skill that enables him to keep going no matter what mistakes he makes or what disasters befall.
Merry keeps telling Pippin that he'll get used to the constant rocking of the boats, but Pippin's unease has little to do with the Anduin's motions and more to do with Boromir's mutterings, which are too low to be understood but whose dark, anxious tones make a good supporting point for Sam's argument that boats are far and away the worst method of travel.
The quest has robbed Pippin of food, sleep, rest, and ultimately a wizard, but even when the orcs rob Pippin of his freedom, it all pales in comparison to his other loss—the loss of Boromir—who falls upon blood-stained soil with his left hand clenched around one of the many arrows in his chest and his right hand still reaching for Pippin and Merry.
There is no real reason to think Aragorn is trailing the orcs who have taken them captive and no real reason to think throwing away his Lothlórien brooch will assist in any sort of rescue, but when forced to choose between discarding a brooch or discarding hope, Pippin lets the leaf fall.
Pippin has never met Gollum, but he's heard enough about the creature from Aragorn to venture a deadly gamble and manage a fair—albeit terrified—impression of "precious" when Grishnákh's searching hands play over his skin.
When the Entmoot stretches into its third day, an anxious Pippin wonders if they should simply take Quickbeam and start for Orthanc on their own, for at this pace, the Moot might not be over before the question of attacking Saruman is rendered… well… moot.
Pippin makes one last attempt to count the ent-strides as Treebeard and the other Ents close upon Isengard, but he gives up when he fails to find even a simple point of reference; it is as though the entire forest is moving with them in a rising swell of leaf and branch, and after further examination, Pippin decides there might be truth to that thought.
It should be a happy, peaceful moment—and at first, it is—but sitting next to Merry and their Isengard plunder, a pipe and a collection of Longbottom Leaf near at hand, Pippin can't help thinking of Frodo and Sam, how they should all be together enjoying this, and hopes the other two can find similar treasures in whatever ruins haunt their journey.
For the most part, Saruman's cloak appears gray, but when he moves, the light catches it strangely and a host of other colors shimmer amid the ash; Pippin can scarcely take his eyes off it until something far more interesting—a crystal globe with an inner fire—is thrown from an upper window and plunges into the waters surrounding Orthanc.
It is a language devoid of words, but every part of Pippin's mind, heart, and soul understands Sauron's silent voice as he stares into the depths of the fiery globe; the pain and violation of self notwithstanding, the greatest horror is knowing that with but a look, the Dark Lord can stamp his will upon every fiber of Pippin's being, nothing denied and nothing withheld from that terrible gaze.
Hobbits in their tweens have a reputation for carefree lives and an acute inability to view anything with the sobriety it deserves, but never again in his life is Pippin as serious as he is when he pledges his service to Denethor, remembering his last sight of Boromir who exhausted his final moments struggling to save him.
Pippin's duty to Gondor is initially born out of devotion to the departed, but when Faramir arrives in the City, Pippin finds new reason for service; Faramir is as Boromir, tall and mighty and noble, but he is also as Strider, far-seeing with old eyes and capable of inspiring immediate loyalty in a tweenaged hobbit who adds his voice to the throng with no prompting from aught save his own heart: "Faramir! Faramir!"
Denethor's last command—"Die in what way seems good to you"—doesn't readily translate into "Find Gandalf and upset my plan of using a premature funeral pyre to escape what I deem to be Sauron's eminent rule," but when Pippin pledged fealty to Gondor, he swore his oath to her steely-eyed protective Steward, not to the exhausted, guilt-ridden father who has lived so long bereft of hope that he can see only despair.
The Rohirrim horns sound wildly over the Pelennor Fields, an incomprehensible boon for the besieged as the Enemy turns away from Minas Tirith; but even as Pippin's rejoicing heart begs to join the battle without, he remembers the battle within and leaps forward before Gandalf can reach the broken gate, telling the other of Denethor's intentions and dividing both himself and the wizard as terribly as the Enemy divided the City-gate.
When Pippin finds Merry seemingly safe and sound in an abandoned lane, it feels like a wonderful ending to a very bad day; Pippin's heart nearly seizes when Merry—Merry, of all hobbits—won't stop crying, mumbles something about a burning sword and a numb right arm, and asks in all earnestness if Pippin is taking him away to be buried.
They hurriedly form ranks as orcs pour through the Black Gate, but despite the brightly gleaming swords and lances, Pippin cannot help thinking they are simply lining up to die: first Boromir, then Frodo and Sam, and now Strider and Legolas and Gimli and Gandalf and—well, maybe not Gandalf since he already died once, but Pippin can't see much hope for himself or Beregond and he wonders if Boromir was the lucky one, escaping all this as early as he did.
After Pippin wakes in Ithilien and learns that he is not dead and that they won, he also finds himself sporting several fascinating shades of black and blue; this is nothing compared to Frodo and Sam, however, and leaning heavily on Merry, he vainly wishes he could take on all their hues, too, if only they will open their eyes.
They aren't soldiers of Gondor but they are stubborn Tooks on a mission, and Pippin swells with pride as he leads them forth to join Frodo and the others in driving the Ruffians from the Shire.
Pippin lives a full life in the Shire, enjoying both the fruits of the larger world and the comforts of home, but in the end, both he and Merry realize they cannot die in the little country that first gave them life; the Shire struggles to return to its simple ways, shrugging off the outside world to which Pippin now partly belongs, and so he and Merry depart, leaving behind only relics and stories that pass swiftly into fading legend.