Importance of Luna, Ginny, and Neville
by Roslyn Hamelink
I’m sure Harry will always consider Ron and Hermione to be his two best friends, but he’s realizing that neither of them have had a real loss in their lives, or been on the brink of death. There are certain aspects of his past and facets of his personality that they just can’t understand. (Hermione’s tactless comment that he has a “saving-people thing” really brought this home to me.) Furthermore, JKR seems to be pushing Ron and Hermione together, which would leave Harry as the odd man out. Now, I don’t see Harry in Books 6 and 7 being completely isolated while Ron and Hermione are snugging in dark corners. If that were to happen then Harry would probably become even more angry and bitter over the fact that he can’t lead a normal teenage boy’s life. If the awesome and terrifying power that Harry possesses is in fact Love, then he needs to be surrounded by as many good friends as he can find, and even more importantly he has to open up to them to really feel and appreciate their love. So far he’s only really opened up to Ron and Hermione, and even then he hasn’t broken down all of his barriers.
This leads us to the fact that Neville, Ginny, and Luna step up and take on a much bigger role in the OotP, but why? I believe the reason that JKR made these three more prominent in book 5 was to show Harry that he should invest more in these other friendships with people who can understand him at a different level than Ron and Hermione. (Not that I mean he should turn his back on Ron and Hermione, just build other meaningful friendships.) Developing more intimate relationships with these three would keep him from being isolated as Ron and Hermione start exploring their own relationship. But why these three? Why not Dean, Colin, Lee, or some other members of the DA? It’s because Neville, Ginny, and Luna have all suffered similar dangers or traumas throughout their short lives that help them to relate to Harry and his problems.
Harry learned in GoF that Neville has suffered the effects of Voldemort almost as much as he has in his short life. Much like Harry, Neville was in a sense orphaned when his parents were driven insane, but even Harry says it would be worse for your parents to not know you, than for them to be killed outright. Not to mention, Harry and Neville both grew up being bullied by their remaining family, and to a certain extent they were constantly belittled. Harry, because his relations hate the freaky Potters, and Neville because no one feels he can be as good as his popular Auror parents. Finally, Harry finds out that Neville could have just as easily been the “Boy-who-Lived.” Harry is really beginning to realize just how similar the two are.
Now Ginny, on the other hand, hasn’t lost a close relative, but she did live through the Chamber of Secrets. Over Christmas, Harry realized that Ginny had been possessed by Voldy before, and had almost died. Really, Harry and Ginny are the only two people who have ever survived when Voldemort/Riddle set out to kill them. In fact, this connection between Ginny and Harry, Ginny and Voldy, and Voldy and Harry will probably become more important with time. I have to admit I think that JKR will eventually put Harry and Ginny together, if for no other reason than because of the bond they share from the Chamber of Secrets (O.K. there’s lots of other reasons too, but that is the most important reason because why else would she pick Ginny and not someone else to be in the Chamber and share that bond. Also, in the last Quidditch match between Gryffindor and Ravenclaw Ginny “caught the Snitch right out from under Cho’s nose.” Could Harry be the Snitch?)
Throughout OotP Harry seems to think Luna is mental, but by the end Harry realizes how badly Luna is treated by everyone, and he finds out that Luna witnessed her own mother’s death. Harry finds that Luna makes him feel a little better after the death of Sirius, I think it is because she and he can sympathize with each other at a level that Ron and Hermione’s empathy can’t match (I don’t read any of that as a budding Harry/Luna romantic relationship).
After an initial month or two of intense grieving, and possibly shutting everyone out, Harry is going to come to the realization that these other three can help him to move on. They won’t force him to talk, or ask ceaseless questions like Ron and Hermione, but instead will just be there for him in quiet sympathy and understanding. I think in the HBP we’ll see his friendship with those three growing greatly.