I didn't sign up to post anything for yesterday's class, but our discussion about Denethor made me wonder about the story-internal role of suicide. As far as I can recall, there are only two points at which the topic of suicide surfaces in The Lord of the Rings. One is Denethor's death; the other is when Sam comes across Frodo's apparently lifeless body:
"He looked on the bright point of the sword. He thought of the places behind where there was a black brink and an empty fall into nothingness. That was to do nothing, not even to grieve. There was no escape that way. That was not what he had set out to do."
Obviously, Tolkien's moral and religious objections to suicide found their way into The Lord of the Rings. But what happens to people who kill themselves? We can only guess at the great purpose Eru has for Men and where they go when they die. Do suicides take part in Eru's great plan after their deaths? Is there a distinction between a suicide like Denethor and an Evil man like the Mouth of Sauron? Is suicide meant to be an inappropriate abdication from responsibility or a selfish desire to control one's life and fate? Lots of questions, and thin textual ice on which to stand. Nevertheless, I'd be interested to hear what people think about this matter.