Is Sirius Black a good role model to Harry?

Just yesterday we celebrated Gary Oldman’s birthday, and not surprisingly this created a general buzz on the internet about the character he portrayed in the Harry Potter franchise – Sirius Black.

Sirius is one of the most beloved characters in the series. Of the Marauders he is possibly the quickest to the punch, he’s smart, loyal, and will always stick up for his friends. In many ways, he is the quintessential Gryffindor.

When he died, that death was marked down for many as one of the most painful moments of the series.

And yet, while he was alive, was Sirius Black truly a good role model for Harry?

Of the Maurauders, Sirius is truly the most reckless. After he escapes from Azkaban, instead of going home Sirius casually travels the Wizarding World in his dog form although the Ministry of Magic is after him, endangering not only his life but the information he holds about the activities of the Order.

Sirius also identified and cultivated the recklessness he saw within Harry. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix he gives Harry broad details about Lord Voldemort’s plans though Molly Weasley insists it’s inappropriate to do so:

“What’s he after apart from followers?” Harry asked swiftly.
He thought he saw Sirius and Lupin exchange the most fleeting of looks before Sirius said, “Stuff he can only get by stealth.”
When Harry continued to look puzzled, Sirius said, “Like a weapon. Something he didn’t have last time.”
“When he was powerful before?”
“Like what kind of weapon?” said Harry.
“Something worse than the Avada Kedavra – ?”
“That’s enough.”
(US Edition; p. 96)

There is an argument to be made that had Sirius not prepared Harry continuously for what was coming, he would not have been prepared to fight. But is it possible that given the moment above and others like it Sirius nurtured Harry to be a bit more reckless than he might have otherwise been?

Let me be clear – in terms of values, there’s no question that Sirius embodies some of the greatest aspects of the human race – he’s courageous, loyal, and generally a good person. But is it possible his pride and sense of adventure make him a bad role model to Harry?

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  • Ness14

    I think Serius Black was an extremely untrustworthy and influences Harry in all of the wrong ways.

  • Iain Walker

    Bear in mind that at the end of OotP, Dumbledore admits that keeping Harry in the dark was a colossal mistake. In which case, it’s Sirius who looks like the responsible mentor in wanting to tell Harry what’s going on, and Molly (along with Dumbledore) who looks to be the one in the wrong. A far better example of Sirius encouraging Harry to be reckless would be during the Floo-call later in the book, when he suggests that he comes up to Hogwarts. But notice that Harry shuts him down pretty quickly, causing Sirius to complain that maybe he’s not as much like James as he’d thought. In other words, Harry refuses the bait.

    As to whether Harry might have picked up some of Sirius’s recklessness by general example or osmosis, it’s not at all clear from the books that he does. Harry does plenty of reckless things before he meets Sirius (e.g., sneaking into Hogsmeade) and after Sirius is dead (e.g., casting unknown spells at random during HBP). And probably the most reckless thing that he does in the books, the rescue mission to the Dept of Mysteries at the climax of OotP, is as much due to his lack of knowledge (which is ultimately Dumbledore’s fault) as it is to any possible influence of Sirius.