Sam views Frodo much as Frodo views the ring, as something to be protected and guided to a final destination, and Sam’s dedication makes him one of the most important members of the fellowship. While Aragorn is the star fighter of the group, it is Sam who proves the most indispensable to Frodo, and the two are so isolated in their journey that they usually don’t know what the other members of the fellowship are doing or facing. Though the other members make it possible for Frodo and Sam to continue on their journey, Sam himself makes it possible for Frodo to carry on. Sam takes his responsibilities as Frodo’s companion very seriously, and he upholds his vow never to leave Frodo even when circumstances are at their most dangerous. When an exhausted Frodo falters near the end of The Return of the King, Sam literally carries his friend the rest of the distance to Mount Doom. Sam is loyal as well as pure, and this purity helps him resist the power of the ring. Sam has countless opportunities to steal the ring from Frodo, but he takes it only when he believes Frodo is dead. He returns the ring with little hesitation, a selfless act that suggests that had Frodo actually died, Sam would have had the strength to carry out the destruction of it on his own.

Frodo’s strength at times seems almost otherworldly, but Sam’s is very much of the world, and this distinction becomes clear at the end of The Return of the King. While Frodo struggles to readjust to normal life in the Shire, Sam thrives. He bravely approaches the woman he has always loved, marries her, and soon is a father of two. The journey to Mordor gave Sam new confidence and maturity, and our final glimpse of him shows him to be on his way to a long, happy life. Frodo, however, has been changed by the journey in a way the Shire can no longer accommodate, and his only option is to leave.