WWII Novelist Refuted
However, despite all this, there are still those who would deny that World War II was a strong influence on Tolkien. Grant C. Sterling makes the following arguments:
1) The outline of Tolkien's basic view of life and the world was obvious long before WW II ever began. [Indeed, I would argue that it was apparent before even WW _I_ began.] If the major themes in the book can be traced to aspects of Tolkien's personality that were obvious long before WW II began, then it is absurd to think that WW II had a major influence on the book.
2) The book itself was already begun before the war had started, and there is no obvious connection between wartime events and Tolkien's writings. [Take out HoME [History of Middle Earth]. Find someone who knows nothing about the history of Tolkien's life or writings. Give them several chapters, and ask them to tell you which were written pre-WW II, which during the war, and which after. My bet is the person will be baffled, and will simply guess. Or ask them "which chapter was being written during the bombing of England" , or "which chapter is closest to D-Day?".]
3) I don't think the book has a strong anti-war message at all. It is certainly not pro-war, not the sort of book that overly glamorizes it, but at the same time it is a book that doesn't downplay military heroism either. Theoden's conversion from meekness to aggressiveness [and ultimately to death in battle] is treated as overwhelmingly positive, for example.
4) All the supposed parallels can be easily exploded. The Ring doesn't equal the Bomb. First of all, the ring had already been given its importance long before the existence of the bomb had ever been revealed [unless you think JRRT was psychic :)]. Second, the Bomb was not invented by the evil powers, lost, recovered by the good guys, and then destroyed rather than used. Etc. I submit that you cannot name me one substantial parallel of this type that will stand up under observation, except something trivial like 'the book has a war in which guys from the west invade territory held by guys from the east, and ultimately win'. [Even that has obvious flaws.](50)
firstname.lastname@example.org | 10 December 1998