A point was raised in class today that I found thought provoking. Were Giles and the villagers justified in seceding from the King's governance, or was it an unjustified act of rebellion? The folk of Ham had remained largely unhindered by the King. He paid little attention to them, and in turn they paid little attention to him. Tolkien characterizes them as plain country folk that want to be left in peace. This seems analogous to the hobbits of the Shire. The king of Gondor used to have power over that corner of the land, but no more, and the hobbits had quite forgotten that they ever used to be under the dominion of anyone. They want to remain free, and at the end of The Return of the King their autonomy is secured. Even though Aragorn is now king over the land, he leaves the Shirefolk to go on with their lives unhindered (at least I think he does if I remember correctly). As for Ham, they openly rebel against the King for their independence. Even though the hobbits and the people of Ham want the same thing, does the way they get that thing matter? It seems clear that Tolkien would have valued his independence as well, but how would he have gone about it? Are rebelling against an established monarch to gain independence and being left alone long enough to remember only independence the same thing, or are the means more important than the ends?