Remembering Cedric Diggory

Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory.”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Twenty years ago today the wizarding world suffered a tremendous loss in the form of Cedric Diggory’s murder. Cedric’s death was significant in the Potter series because it was the first time readers witnessed the death of a character that wasn’t minor and wasn’t just a fleeting mention. We were in that graveyard with Harry and Cedric, so his death was naturally more real to us than that of James and Lily’s. Cedric’s death was pivotal in shifting the series and its readers out of childhood and into the adult world.

Both Harry and Cedric were equally capable wizards, but Cedric died while Harry lived. Why is this so important? Cedric as a character represents fairness. We see examples of Cedric’s fair and just nature in a few different scenarios in the series. In the Quidditch match in Prisoner of Azkaban, Cedric wants a rematch because Harry fell off his broom, taking away the equal chance for both Seekers to catch the Snitch. During the third task of the Triwizard Tournament, Cedric and Harry decide to take the Triwizard Cup together rather than give one of them more recognition for the same accomplishments. While Cedric’s character represents fairness in the world, his death was anything but fair. As children we believe that fairness will always prevail. This was also Cedric’s personal view and the rules he lived by as mentioned in the previous examples. When Cedric was killed, it showed that what is fair and what is reality are very rarely the same thing. This demolition of childhood views of right and wrong entered the Harry Potter readership into a new era where realistic truths took center stage in a struggle between good and evil.

Voldemort’s cry of “Kill the spare!” is a horrible nod to the insignificance of human life in the greater scheme of things. However, Cedric’s life was far from inconsequential. He touched many people. He was well liked and had many friends, he was a promising student and Quidditch player, and even in death he brought out the best in others. Cedric’s death was such an unnecessary loss, and it proved to be a rallying point for students who joined Dumbledore’s Army a year later. These students were learning to defend themselves because of what happened to Cedric at the end of the previous school year. As tragic as his death was, Cedric no doubt would have been proud of how it inspired his peers to learn protection and prepare to defend themselves and each other and also, in a way, avenge his death by doing so.

So here’s to Cedric Diggory. He did not die in vain but instead opened all of our eyes to the cruelty inflicted by the world and taught us that goodness can inspire others to a stronger path even after death.