Sam begins the journey with an immature innocence as Stratford Caldecott is quoted in Man & Myth [by Joseph Pearce p.115], and after experiencing many hardships and sufferings he matures; but retains his childlikeness and innocence. But most importantly he does not harden his heart or become cynical through his experience of life, he grows in love and true wisdom; he grows into a mature innocence.
Pippin and Merry also pass through this growing up of sorts and come to learn about sacrifice and courage themselves. Merry helps to kill the Witch-King and save Eowyn and Pippin helps save Faramir, which further entrenches Tolkien's theme of exalting the humble.
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