The reason I phrased the title like that is to avoid spoiling the story for somebody who might see it and haven't read the books. I've just finished the last one in the trilogy, minutes ago, but I don't quite get it.
Okay, so obviously, the Ring has some kind of fundamental, barely-explained psychological/spiritual effect on whoever wears it, even if just briefly (like with Sam). I get it: wear the ring, and you have to go over the sea to the mythical continent of Gods and elves.
But why exactly? Having both read the books long ago, and watched the movies, I knew roughly what was coming, but I expected it to be a whole major scene in the end where Frodo sits down with his friends, or at the very least Sam, and discuss this, with the others wanting him to stay, but he "has to go", and everyone is sad, etc.
Instead, Sam and him just go on some kind of casual stroll (I thought they were going back to Rivendell for Bilbo...) and just so happen to meet the elves on the way. Apparently, Sam "had a hunch", even though the reader (at least this reader) is absolutely baffled when, basically out of nowhere, Frodo now has to go with the elves and Gandalf on a ship, across the ocean, away from Middle-earth forever, never to return.
This is handled in a very dissatisfying manner according to me. I was more frustrated by this than anything else in the entire epic story.
Even though I have read Silmarillion, several times, and even recently, I don't quite understand if this other continent is actually a physical place, or just a metaphor for death. Is Frodo basically going to Heaven? Once he arrives on those white shores, does he just jump off the ship and start living in a house there and talk with a bunch of elves and gods? Is that how it works?
Sorry if it seems like I'm not respecting the mystery of the story or something, but I don't like it when things are too vague and when even the characters inside the story don't ask any questions that you'd expect them to do. Sam's best friend is leaving forever, "because he has to", without any real explanation or (as far as I can tell) without any of them having any understanding of what happens once they reach that magical island, far away across the sea, which you cannot get to unless you travel with an elf.
Maybe I'm just stupid, but I feel as if this was barely touched on even in Silmarillion, and certainly not in The Lord of the Rings. Apparently, Frodo assumes (or has been told) that he will get bliss and no more pain from his wound... which also sounds like an allegory for the afterlife to me. But Pippin and Merry just die normally. According to the appendix list of events, first Sam and then Legolas and Gimli (!) also sail away in the same manner, albeit many years later.
Something about the last part of the story makes me feel very uneasy and depressed. To me, it's even sadder than any of the things that happened during their adventures, and I'm not just referring to the destruction of their home village.