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Inheritance

Inheritance

by du Leon

From the beginning of the series, one of the first things anyone that knew James says to Harry is how much they look alike. In the OotP chapter “Snape’’s Worst Memory,” Harry sees for himself that his father looks just like him — “with deliberate flaws” –- such as Lily’s emerald green eyes.

But how much, exactly, are the two characters alike? Until OotP, everything we’ve learned about James Potter is what Harry’’s been told by James’’ admirers and by his critic, Snape. James and Lily Potter died martyrs, and who speaks ill of martyrs? James may not have been the perfect, intelligent man he was painted to be in the first four books. Lily, in contrast, seems to be as strong at age fifteen as she was preparing to die for her son later.

James curses fellow students (mainly Snape, we learn, judging by his fifth year) in the hall, had a fond tendency to break rules and was, in fact, intelligent enough to become an Animagus. He managed to pull his act together by 7th year, finally convinced Lily Evans to go out with him and sacrificed himself on Halloween of ’81 so that his wife and son might live. Yet after his trip into Snape’’s Worst Memory, Harry begins to doubt that he is like his father in any way other than his physical appearance.

But does Harry remember his “duel” with Draco that led to a Hermione with tusk-like teeth in GoF, his attempt to curse Draco and company until Snape intervened in OotP, his successful, and rather ugly, cursing of Draco and company on the Hogwarts Express (with help from friends) during the endings of several books? Why, it seems Harry has a soft spot for cursing one particular person, just like his father. Do I even need to mention the truckload of rules he has broken since his first term? I can’’t say that Harry knows how to transfigure himself into a Great Dane or anything, but it takes a great amount of skill to be able to create a Patronus successfully at the age of thirteen. He also managed to keep himself alive during GoF, defeated a basilisk in CoS, etc., etc. Yes, Harry had some help with all of these tasks, and, no, he did not always know what he was doing, but the fact is that he had the power enough to defeat Voldemort and the wit enough to figure out a plan to get him out of these messes.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that James’’s values and morals, and a little bit of everything else, were passed on to Harry along with looks. Maybe Harry will be able to accept this and pull his act together by Book Seven. But what about Lily? Technically, Harry inherited half of her, as well. Her willingness to die for others seems to be the biggest, most important trait Harry inherited. James was going to die anyway, if Voldmort had his way, so maybe Harry’’s father wasn’’t being noble at all–maybe he just enjoyed a good fight. But Lily didn’t have to die. Voldemort gave her an opportunity to save herself, but she consciously chose to sacrifice herself for her only child.

History tends to repeat itself and maybe Harry will end up sacrificing himself too. Only, this time, it will be the Wizarding World he saves. It is a big step up from giving yourself for your son and giving yourself for the good of a community, especially a community that may or may not be expecting your sacrifice to save their hides. Hey, Harry saved them once from their He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, and he’’ll definitely try it again. Maybe he’’ll die, maybe he won’’t–that’’s not really the point. He’’s inherited bravery and a willingness to be sacrificed from both parents, the bravado of his father and the compassion of his mother. It will be interesting to see how these characteristics balance out in future and which, if any, will come out on top.

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