ABSTRACT: I start by asking readers who the bravest person in Gryffindor is, and listing likely answers, such as Harry or Neville. But I choose to support a different answer: Ronald Bilius Weasley.
Who is the bravest person in Gryffindor? Most would say Harry Potter, who helps others no matter what the cost to himself, and has faced terrible tragedy. Others say Neville, who is always made fun of but turns out a hero. Some say Hermione, for her nerve and fearless pursuit of whatâs right. Yet others say Luna, because she is always true to herself no matter what others may think of her. The list goes on, but one unsung hero remains in the shadows. The bravest of them all is the most unsuspected of all: Ronald Bilius âRonâ Weasley.
Many see Ron as a weakling, as a scaredy-cat in need of protection. But thatâs just it: Ron is afraid, he is afraid of many things. But he follows through anyway, and does whatever he can to help his friends no matter how horrified he is by doing it. Facing your fears is the purest form of bravery. If you are fearless, brave acts are of no difficulty to you. But if you are honestly, immensely, and intensely scared, yet you overcome your fear â that is true bravery. We must not forget that chess game in book one, in which Ron sacrifices himself for his friends and all wizardkind, knowing he may die in doing so. Ron has a deadly fear of spiders, yet he follows Harry to confront Aragog. And Ronâs biggest fear may be that of loosing Hermione to another man, yet he faces this in book four, when Hermione goes to the Triwizard Ball with Quidditch legend Victor Krum, and again in book six, when Hermione goes to Slughorn's party with Cormac McLaggen, the full-of-himself braggart who almost became Gryffindor Keeper. But Ron is no coward in this situation: a coward would be afraid to show his fear, but a brave man would confess it.
And all throughout his school career, he is brave enough to remain Harryâs friend. He is brave enough to live in Harryâs shadow, to withstand the jibes from those who hate him, and the glory of anything he does being passed along to a friend others admire more than him. His bravery is what makes him a true friend. Ron Weasely shows many qualities of bravery throughout all of the above examples: among them loyalty, trust, friendship, and, as Albus would put it, love. Helping a friend against all odds, withstanding shame, teasing, and living in shadow, being willing to go to a friend for help, and loving somebody you fear you may never have: all of these actions are for love. Love for friends, for family, for the world. And in these dark and uncertain times, loving another can be the bravest action of all.
But perhaps the most concrete proof of Ronâs bravery lies within the last of the books, and is often evidence used against him â the desertion of Harry and Hermione. One cannot deny that the desertion of his truest friends was a cowardly act, but bare in mind that many men far braver than you or I would have deserted long before. But it is Ronâs return that is his biggest display of bravery. While a cowardly man hides from his mistakes, a brave one admits them. And this is what Ron did. He returned, willingly, to a place where he know he was scorned, possibly despised. And when he got there, he offered no excuses. He simply fessed up and apologized for what he had done. I think this display of loyalty is why, after saving Harryâs life, Ron was the one to retrieve the sword of Godric Gryffindor, a sign that cannot be ignored. Something this momentous could not simply be an accident. Albus Dumbledore would probably say it was for his amazing show of love. And in a time of war and confusion, it can be hard to love, and so brave to love.
When you know the odds are against you - know that you are likely to fail - know that there may be no purpose to what youâre doing, or that you may end up empty-handed - but you do it anyway, for a friend, for a loved one, or for any cause, no matter how small; know that you too are like Ronald Weasley, and that is bravery.
November 8, 2008 - An illustration display appears in Cedar Rapids with close to 100 pieces of artwork from Mary GrandPre - some of which has never been seen before. The exhibit is on display until February 5, 2009.