The Reason Harry is the Man He is Today
People have speculated as to why Harry, after being abused for much of his life, managed to turn out to be the good person he has become. The answer is that he has had a wonderful mentor. Maybe you think I’m referring to Dumbledore or Lupin or Sirius. I’m not. I work for a mentoring program and the official definition of mentoring for our purposes is a one-on-one relationship with a caring, trustworthy adult in which the mentor and the youth spend time together at least once a week. The person who fit’s this description for Harry is Hagrid.
A good mentor is a friend. A friend who says, “This is who I am. I want to share it with you.” A friend who says and believes, “I am interested in you and I want you to share with me.”
In Sorcerer’s Stone Hagrid quite dramatically shows Harry an alternative to the hopeless life the Dursley’s have always presented him with. This is often a mentor’s role. Some say, “you are not stupid. I believe you can get better grades.” Some understand, “I know you’ve been hurt by other adults in you life but I won’t hurt you.” Some just simply represent a dependable friend: “I’d like to be your friend now and I’ll be your friend in the future.”
The only thing Hagrid really has in common with Harry is that he is an orphan, too. So, Hagrid uses that to bond with Harry, to reach out to him. Hagrid isn’t very smart. He’s certainly not rich but does that matter to Harry? No. Hagrid cares about him and that is all that matters to Harry. Hagrid isn’t jealous that Harry has more money or is an actual wizard. He is proud of Harry’s successes at school.
In Order of the Phoenix Harry gets Hagrid to divulge information about his super secret giant expedition by telling him he won’t report on his summer until Hagrid first tells him about his.
“I don’t know anything that’s been happenin’ since I left. I was on a secret mission, wasn’ I, didn’ wan’ owls followin’ me all over the place–ruddy dementors! Yeh’re not serious?”
“Yeah, I am, they turned up in Little Whinging and attacked my cousin and me, and then the Ministry of Magic expelled me–“
“–and I had to go to a hearing and everything, but tell us about the giants first.”
“You were expelled?”
“Tell us about your summer and I’ll tell about mine.”
Hagrid glared at him through his one open eye. Harry looked right back, an expression of innocent determination on his face.
“Oh all righ’,” Hagrid said in a resigned voice. (pg. 424, American hardback)
Harry knows that Hagrid cares enough about him and his education that he would rather tell his secret than not hear how Harry has been.
Hagrid isn’t a perfect mentor — sometimes he doesn’t model the best behavior or make logical choices — but he would never do something evil or intentionally hurt or belittle Harry.
Hagrid is there, even at Harry’s worst moment. After Sirius dies Harry can’t decide where to go, but he knows he is welcome at Hagrid’s cabin. Hagrid isn’t the one with all the answers, like Dumbledore. He isn’t Ron and Hermione, the anxious friends. He talks about Sirius. He doesn’t make Harry feel better. He doesn’t have the right things to say but his door is OPEN to Harry.
A mentor can do more damage than good if he or she gives up on his or her youth. The worst thing a mentor can do is miss appointments or disappear half way through the time commitment. Hagrid is committed to Harry. He invests time in Harry. Harry can count on him. Hagrid is there for him even when Harry causes trouble. Hagrid is there for him even when Harry mistrusts him in Chamber of Secrets!
The biggest influence on Harry’s life for good isn’t Dumbledore the wise teacher or Lupin the trusted confidant. It isn’t even Sirius, the father figure. It is Hagrid, the slightly off, half-giant. It is Hagrid the dependable. Hagrid, who is always there.
There is nothing odd about Harry becoming a wonderful man. Research has proven that good mentoring changes lives for the better. Just like Harry, all youth need an adult who really cares. You don’t have to be a giant, just have a giant heart to be a mentor!