The story returns to Sam, who is outside the doors of the stronghold where Frodo has been taken captive. Sam dons the Ring and is nearly overwhelmed by its force. He crosses into Mordor then takes off the Ring, realizing that the Eye is searching for him.
He is frightened, and he longs to use the ring, but he knows that the Ring itself will overpower him if he does. He proceeds and manages to cast frightening shadows on the walls of the cave. He passes many dead orcs, and his fearsome shadow frightens off two guards. Finally he reaches the tower in which Frodo is being tortured. He finds Frodo, rescues him from his torturers, and the two proceed as Sam tells Frodo what has happened. When Sam tells Frodo he has the Ring, Frodo becomes enraged and calls his dear friend a thief. This fit soon passes, and both realize it is the Ring and not Frodo himself, striking out with such passion.
It is in this chapter that Sam proves his true worth. He has saved Frodo, but he has also resisted the pull of the Ring, which many great men have been unable to do.
As Frodo and Sam make their way to Mount Orodruin, they realize that the Lord
of the Nazguls has been killed in battle by a sudden change in the air. Frodo and Sam came close to orc quarters on the vast plain and get behind a bush just in time. One orc kills the other and disappears.
A band of orcs mistake Frodo and Sam for orcs (since they are wearing stolen orc clothing). They are forced to march with the orcs. Later there is some confusion and Sam and Frodo slip away, finding a pit in which to get some fitful rest.
At this point, it seems like each time the two Ring-bearers get close to some kind of success, something gets in the way. Suspense builds and the plot escalates.
As they near Mount Doom, Frodo's burden becomes so fierce he can hardly go on. While they struggle to sustain one another, Sam and Frodo are suddenly attacked by none other than a very desperate Gollum, who is trying in vain to get the Ring. He is in a frenzy, clearly possessed by an evil force driving him to get the ring.
There is a struggle and Sam and Gollum are locked in battle. Gollum begs for his life, and Sam relents. This is a mistake, however, because Gollum is still lusting after the Ring.
Sam sees Frodo inside the mouth of Orodruin, struggling against himself. It seems the Ring has again taken control of Frodo. He cannot bring himself to toss it into the pit, which is the only way to destroy Sauron. Frodo claims the Ring for himself and puts it on his finger. Before Sam can protest he is thrown forward. He hits his head on the stony floor and blacks out.
As Frodo claims the Ring, he becomes invisible. The Dark Lord notices him, having been distracted by the wars in Gondor. He summons the remaining Nazguls, who abandon all and fly toward Mount Doom.
Sam wakes and sees Gollum fighting with the invisible Frodo. Sam watches in horror as Gollum snaps his teeth. One minute he holds in his mouth a finger with the Ring attached; the next minute, Frodo reappears, fingerless. Gollum, shrieking with delight at having found his "precious," takes a step too far and falls into the abyss, taking with him the Ring. The Crack of Doom is filled with the Ring, at last.
The mountain shakes and its fires blaze. Sam picks up Frodo and carries him away from Orodruin. Mordor shakes, its towers fall and mountains slide. The earth shakes and the skies burst forth with black rain, and the Nazguls come shooting out of the sky like flaming bolts, withering away into nothingness.
Frodo is once more himself and Sam is overjoyed. Frodo asks Sam to forgive Gollum because, after all, he has had a very important role in delivering the Ring into the Crack of Doom
This chapter reveals the theme of Fate. Even Gollum, who had struggled with his good identity Smeagol, plays a part in the restoration of order. He is possessed by evil, but even so, he takes that one step that fulfills Frodo's quest. Wise as he is, Frodo tells Sam not to condemn Gollum. Rather, he wants his companion to recognize that each person plays a part in the battle between good and evil; sometimes the role is not easily categorized.