The Phoenix Files #9: Ginny Weasley

By Christopher Stephen

Hey again, readers of the digital abyss we call the Internet. Today, I shall tackle Arthur and Molly Weasley’s only daughter, Ginny. But before I do, I have a couple of bones to pick with you, the readers.

Firstly, I was highly disappointed in the lack of response and submitted editorials for Folders #3 and #4, which were re-opened two weeks ago. I received many, many submissions for Dumbledore’s Folder, but very few for these two. I realize Dumbledore is a much bigger character through the series than are Rita Skeeter and Seamus Finnigan, but based upon the responses in the CoS Forums, I expected there to be quite a few well-written editorials submitted to me. I received a couple, and at least one of them seems post-worthy, but I would simply like more points of view prior to posting. As such, Rita’s Folder and Seamus’s Folder will remain open until this coming Friday at midnight, and I will open the fifth Folder, that of Mrs. Figg, now, and her editorials must also be submitted by Friday at midnight. If I only receive responses for “popular” characters like Dumbledore and Neville, TPF will return to its old format, where no readers’ thoughts will be posted on the main MuggleNet site (this means Neville and the upcoming Snape Folders, among others, will never be opened). I also do not think it is fair for everyone to depend upon those whose editorials have already been posted to continue to submit so the Folders continue to be opened. If you have read the Files I have written and have something to add, debate, or comment upon, it is really quite simple to write a response. Simply jot down your thoughts, put them into paragraph format in a Word or Wordpad document, and send it via e-mail attachment to me at christopherstephened at hotmail dot com. It need not be lengthy or elaborate. Secondly, I received a ton of response on last week’s Neville File. I would like to clear up a couple of things:

First, Neville does tell us who he saw die in OotP during Hagrid’s class (when Umbridge is inspecting): his grandfather. I mistakenly stated we didn’t know. Second, Neville’s parents were tortured by the Lestranges after Voldemort had attempted to attack Harry at Godric’s Hollow, according to Dumbledore in GoF (The Pensieve scene). Also according to Dumbledore, they were searching for information on the whereabouts of Voldemort. Unfortunately, even after five readings, I had not recalled these two important facts, which goes to show everyone that even we authors are human, too. Third, The Phoenix Files are written to inspire dialogue amongst fans (including myself), not so everyone will agree with everything I write. I often bring up multiple points of view, some of the commonly-cited evidence, and usually add a bit of my own thoughts throughout the Files. Many disagreed with the thought Neville’s Gran has the potential to be evil, and I personally do not hold the view that she is. But there are some who do, and I found it an interesting perspective (and a feasible one, based upon canon, though some of the evidence is quite weak), which is why I included it in the File.

Okay, so I think that’s enough lecturing for one File, let’s get on to Ginny!

I think Ginny is the single character who has grown the most throughout the series; yes, even more than Harry. Harry has been through a lot and has (arguably) matured, but Ginny is barely recognizable in OotP from her excitable, pointing self in SS/PS or her immensely shy, embarrassed self in CoS. By OotP, she is holding her own, fending for herself in extremely dangerous situations such as Umbridge’s office and the Department of Mysteries (abbreviated DoM for the rest of the File).

We know that Ginny was planned by JKR from before Book One was published, and it is possible that she had already picked a role or niche for young Miss Weasley very early on, perhaps larger than the avenue through which the Chamber of Secrets was to be opened again. A couple of tidbits: we know from Jo’s site that Ginny is the first female Weasley in many generations. I also believe it was stated that Ginny is short for Ginevra instead of Virignia. In the first American paperback edition (1999) of Book One, we meet Ginny on page 92, in the sixth chapter, entitled “The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters.”

“Now, what’s the platform number?” said the boys’ mother.
“Nine and three-quarters!” piped a small girl, also red-headed, who was holding her hand, “Mom, can’t I go…”
“You’re not old enough, Ginny, now be quiet. All right, Percy, you go first.”

As always, I find it interesting who we meet and when. Though it usually doesn’t matter, as in the case with Dedalus Diggle (who we “meet” in Chapter One), sometimes those mentioned early on in the book or series become more important later. Ginny is the first Weasley whose name we learn, then Percy, then the rest of the Weasley children.

Later in that chapter, Fred and George tell Molly it was Harry she had helped through the barrier to the platform. Ginny responds, “Oh, Mom, can I go on the train and see him, Mom, oh please…” (Mrs. Weasley replies, “You’ve already seen him, Ginny, and the poor boy isn’t something you goggle at in a zoo.”) Ginny then cries as the train pulls away, and chases the train until it gains too much speed. It is obvious she cannot wait to go to Hogwarts!

Ginny doesn’t forget about Harry, either. The moment he passes through the barrier after the school year we hear:

“There he is, Mom, there he is, look! … Harry Potter!” she squealed. “Look, Mom! I can see—”
“Be quiet, Ginny, and it’s rude to point.”

Based upon Mrs. Weasley’s responses to Ginny’s comments, it seems to me as though she doesn’t seem to favor her as many mothers who have just one daughter might. I believe Mrs. Weasley is a good mother (especially when it comes to being stern when teaching her children a lesson), and I do not doubt she loves Ginny very much, but it doesn’t seem she favors her simply because of her sex. Interestingly, Harry never sees Ginny’s dead body appear as the boggart in OotP is running through those she loves. Mrs. Weasley had been sobbing, then Harry found her and saw Ron first, then Bill, then Arthur, then the twins, then Percy, then Harry (OotP, pp. 175-176 Ch. 9 “The Woes of Mrs. Weasley”, First American edition, July, 2003). Is there a significance to this order? I’m not sure. It seems likely that the twins and Percy would be toward the end, and Harry, not a member of the family, appears after Percy. Does this mean Charlie and Ginny appeared before Ron (before Harry reached Mrs. Weasley), or would they have showed up at all (or after Harry)? I don’t know if we can infer anything directly from their absence, but it’s something to think about. It’s possible it isn’t important to the series, but Jo specifically decided to tell us who appeared and in what order.

Ginny is so enthralled with Harry throughout the opening half of CoS that she can’t even speak to him. We all recall (I’m sure) Ginny putting her elbow in the butter dish because Harry spoke to her. Ron tells Harry while at the Burrow (Chapter Three, “The Burrow”, CoS, American first paperback printing, 2000) that it’s “weird” for her to be so shy, and that “she never shuts up normally.” Then, of course, she stands up and defends Harry in front of Draco at Flourish and Blotts. To me, it seems as though Ginny has taken a big step forward in maturity here. Little kids usually are in awe of celebrities (so are many adults), while adolescent teens tend to have crushes on those they adore.

Ginny was also the last of a long line of Weasleys to go back to the Burrow when they were supposed to be on their way to King’s Cross (because she forgot her diary…how do we miss this stuff??).

Also, in CoS, I have always found Jo’s analogy of Ginny post-Pepper-up Potion to be interesting; something about how the steam coming from her ears gave the impression her whole head was on fire. I don’t know if that’s supposed to be a clue, hint, or simply comic relief, but I always found it funny and sort of intriguing.

What fascinated me the most, though, is the way Ginny dealt with the whole Chamber situation throughout the book. For a shy, young, impressionable first year, she did rather well. She attempted to flush the diary down Myrtle’s toilet after she finally decided it was not a good thing to be pouring her heart and soul into it, only to see Harry with it on Valentine’s Day. She bravely breaks into the boys’ dormitory (still no idea how she did that, but Hermione showed up on Christmas, too) and steals it back (probably to protect Harry). Then, she attempts to swallow her shyness and tell Harry all about her encounter with Tom Riddle, only to have Percy conveniently scare her off, just before she gets “taken” into the Chamber. While in the Chamber (after Harry’s duel with the basilisk), Ginny says, “I’ve looked forward to coming to Hogwarts ever since Bill came and now I’ll have to leave and—”

Combine this with they way Ginny seems to adore Bill at the start of GoF (backing up his choice of hairstyle to her mom), and I think Ginny really admires first Bill and then the twins in the Weasley family. It’s a good thing, because all three of them are very powerful wizards.

At the end of CoS, Ginny has no problem talking to Harry on the way back to King’s Cross about Percy and Penelope. I suppose after an ordeal like the one she had with Riddle and the Chamber must mature a person, but Ginny really seems to come into her own toward the end of CoS.

In PoA, Ginny doesn’t appear as often. She shares a laugh with Harry about Percy and Penelope as they board the train (again showing how much her attitude has changed about Harry in the past year—at the start of CoS, she was in awe; now, she seems to deem herself an equal). Unfortunately, Harry doesn’t see her that way yet, telling Ron and Hermione he has to speak with them “in private.” Ron rudely tells Ginny to “go away,” and she huffs and stalks off. Then the dementor entered the compartment where Ginny had rejoined Harry, and they affected her nearly as badly as they did Harry. It’s rather obvious (now) why; it’s because she had had such horrible experiences in the Chamber the previous year. Since the dementors force you to relive your very worst memories, surely those moments in the Chamber would have been some of Ginny’s worst. They’re still not as bad as Harry’s worst, so Ginny didn’t faint, but she was shaking uncontrollably. Unbelievably, she doesn’t really reappear significantly until Chapter Ten, halfway through the book. After the dementors charge the Quidditch field, making Gryffindor lose to Cedric and Hufflepuff, Ginny sends Harry (who is in the hospital wing recovering from his fifty-foot fall) a homemade get-well card that “sang shrilly” unless Harry kept it under his bowl of fruit. This is quite powerful magic for a second year, and I suppose we should have noticed that!

Goblet of Fire also presents us with an even more outgoing, more intelligent, more cool Ginny Weasley. I think it’s interesting how Harry, Ron, and Hermione all insist on keeping Sirius quiet from Ginny. Perhaps it’s because they think she’s too young, but they were younger than she is when they were going through trapdoors and entering the Chamber of Secrets. Ginny laughs at the Ton-Tongue Toffee, crashing flying tables, and other things, showing her sense of humor is similar to the twins’. Ginny adds her two bits in here and there throughout the QWC scene, and sounds a bit like Hermione when she says, “I thought Mr. Bagman was Head of Magical Games and Sports. He should know better than to talk about Bludgers near Muggles, shouldn’t he?”

Yet the majority of GoF, Ginny is mysteriously missing. She’s not mentioned aboard the Hogwarts Express or at the Gryffindor table during most of the book. It’s almost as if Jo forgot about her, but we HP Sleuths didn’t, did we? Don’t worry, she makes up for it in OotP.

Ginny is closer to Hermione than I ever realized. She knows Hermione’s going with Krum to the Yule Ball (much to Ron’s discontentment) well before the majority of people (including Parvati, who is in her year and, presumably, her dorm room). She obviously wants to go to the Yule Ball because she accepts Neville’s invite (and seems embarrassed by it, at least in front of Harry and Ron). Do we have a little romantic on our hands? From the evidence presented in OotP, Ginny could be a downright heartbreaker…

OotP is definitely Ginny’s coming out party. She takes on a much, much, much larger role. She’s very close to Tonks, as mentioned in her own File, as well as the twins. She enjoys playing with Crookshanks, which I find interesting, but not nearly as interesting as the part where she downright lies to her mother, unflinchingly. From the first edition, in Chapter Four, entitled “Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place,” Ginny says Hermione’s cat left the Dungbombs outside the door, when Ginny had in fact been tossing them there to see if they could get Extendable Ears under the door crack. “‘Crookshanks,’ said Ginny unblushingly. ‘He loves playing with them.'”

Also in that chapter, Ginny states: “‘Bill doesn’t like him [Snape], either,’ said Ginny, as though that settled the matter.” That’s a reinforcement that Ginny really looks up to her eldest brother. Ginny makes a “noise like an angry cat” after Ron tells Harry that Percy had blamed his father for being poor due to his lack of ambition (I hope you followed that; if not, read it again, I won’t be offended, and nobody will ever know). I think that’s sort of intriguing, especially when combined with what comes later…

Another small point you may or may not remember from OotP: as Fred and George are getting ready to go to Hogwarts, they bewitch their trunks to go down the stairs. Unfortunately, they end up knocking Ginny down two flights!! I’m hoping this is just comic relief and has no deeper meaning.

Did anyone else notice Ginny’s impressive Scourgify charm on the Hogwarts Express, used to get rid of the Stinksap? That was probably not a very easy charm to do, and she’s following after her mother in that domestic magic. If she remains powerful in this area, it could prove quite useful for the DA.

Ginny appears in nearly every scene in the early-middle of OotP, and I’m not going to go over every one of them, just the ones I find either particularly important or intriguing. I thought it was odd at the start of Chapter Eleven how Harry, Ron, and Ginny immediately stick up for Hagrid in front of Luna, but Hermione takes much longer to reply. It seems perhaps Hermione has a bit of Ravenclaw’s traits in her, while the rest of the crew seems to have a bit of Hufflepuff’s loyalty. Ginny then gets “hailed” by some fellow fourth years when they enter the Great Hall. Apparently, she’s quite popular.

In Chapter Thirteen, “Detention with Dolores,” there is more evidence of Hermione’s closeness with Ginny. “Oh, for heaven’s sake, Harry, you can do better than her [Luna], Ginny’s told me all about her, apparently she’ll only believe in things as long as there’s no proof at all.”

Ginny says nearly nothing during the meeting of the future DA in the Hog’s Head, save she breaks up two of her friends, Luna and Hermione, from bickering over Fudge’s army of heliopaths. I wonder why she wasn’t more talkative.

As mentioned earlier, if you’re looking for a little more romance than the awkwardness that was Harry and Cho (or, arguably, Ron and Hermione) in Book Five, Ginny’s the place to look. She starts out dating Michael Corner (a Ravenclaw, whom she’s been seeing since the end of the previous year), then moves on to Dean Thomas by the end of Book Five. Once again, Hermione knows all this (why are we no longer surprised?).

Ginny also proposes the name of “Dumbledore’s Army” for the DA group. Most of you probably recall that she takes over as Gryffindor Seeker after Harry gets his “lifetime ban.” Of course, at the end of the book, she states she will probably try for Chaser next year. Seems to me that little Ginny is awfully active. She comes up with the goods at times when they are most needed. An important quality not to be overlooked.

There are a few other things of note with Ginny prior to her episode in the DoM. After they take the Portkey (I have a few questions about those; are there two different kinds, like one where it takes people at a certain time and another where it takes the first person to touch it?) from Dumbledore’s office to Number Twelve, Ginny is “curled like a cat on her chair” (p. 479, Am. 1st ed.). That’s the second cat description Jo has used when Ginny was at Number Twelve. I believe this is a hint (it’s definitely reinforced). Perhaps Ginny’s animagus form would be a cat? Or, also possible, will her curiosity get the better of her in either Book Six or Seven? Now that would be Jo-like; give us enough hints to simply lead us to another hint.

Finally, Ginny gets to be on the inside when she stays in the room with Harry, Hermione, and Ron just before Christmas, reminding Harry she had been possessed by You-Know-Who. This is the first time Ginny’s really included (though they still attempt not to include her in the thestral scene). She said it quite matter-of-factly, and seemed to be happy to be able to help. In fact, every time she’s seen Harry since her first year, she’s been very jovial when speaking to him, and not because she fancies him anymore (as Hermione told us).

Speaking of Hermione, she knows even more inside information about Ginny than I’ve spoken of so far. In Chapter Twenty-Six, “Seen and Unforeseen,” she says, “She’s [Ginny] been breaking into your broom shed in the garden since the age of six and taking each of your brooms out in turn when you weren’t looking.” And Ginny is quite good, grabbing the Snitch in just twenty-two minutes (making Gryffindor only lose by ten points…hmm…that reminds me of a certain QWC match…)!! That’s nearly as good as Harry was. Although Harry thinks he was “quite impressed with Ginny’s performance,” he thinks he could have done better. Ginny says in “Career Advice” (Chapter Twenty-Nine) that “The thing about growing up around Fred and George is that you sort of start thinking anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.” She then says, “Oh damn, I forgot,” when Madam Pince, the librarian, chews them out for having chocolate in the library. She had done very well throughout the book until then!

Ginny comes up with another lie in Chapter Thirty-Two, on p. 737: “‘Luna and I can stand at either end of the corridor, and warn people not to go down there because someone’s let off a load of Garroting Gas.’ Hermione looked surprised at the readiness with which Ginny had come up with this lie,” writes Jo. I think we should definitely be on the lookout for Ginny not being totally truthful in the future. Jo specifically writes that Ginny’s lie, when repeating it to unbelieving students, was “convincing.” Hmm…

Of course, we all remember Ginny’s Bat-Bogey Hex on Malfoy. Ron states that it was the “best” bit of magic of all the DA members who had escaped from members of the Inquisitorial Squad. Ginny sets her jaw in Chapter Thirty-Three “so that her resemblance to Fred and George was suddenly striking.” “‘I’m three years older than you were when you fought You-Know-Who over the Philosopher’s [Sorcerer’s] Stone,’ she said fiercely, ‘and it’s because of me Malfoy’s stuck back in Umbridge’s office with giant flying bogeys attacking him—'” Now that sounds like some Girl Power there. Go, Ginny!! She figures out why the thestrals are headed toward Harry and Hermione (who are covered in Grawp’s blood).

Ginny fights valiantly in the DoM, but her ankle gets broken, and she’s unfortunately really not much help after that.

Ginny’s future looks very bright indeed. It is clear she, like Bill and the twins, is a very powerful magician, and her resourcefulness could be just what the current trio needs. After all, they’ve got Ron (who seems to enjoy thinking outside the box), Harry (with his courage), and Hermione (with her book knowledge), so wouldn’t someone like Ginny fit in perfectly? She will, but only if the trio will let her in on the inside information she needs to know to be helpful. After all, now that the twins are gone, she is the only Weasley other than Ron left at Hogwarts! To me, it seems like the experience in the DoM might serve like the troll experience in Book One with Harry and Ron and Hermione. Did you notice on p. 848 of hardback OotP Am. 1st ed., toward the beginning of the last chapter, Jo writes, “All six of them looked aroun”? It’s possible it will no longer be the now-famous trio, but rather the sextet (with Neville, Ginny and Luna). That is, of course, only if Ginny’s curiosity doesn’t get her first. Hmm…I suppose we’ll just have to see.

THINGS TO KEEP A MOODY-LIKE MAGICAL EYE ON FOR BOOKS SIX AND SEVEN:

  • Ginny telling very convincing lies without blushing or showing any signs of lying.
  • Ginny continuing to look up to Bill, Fred, George, Hermione, and Tonks.
  • Ginny continuing to mature, perhaps more quickly than Harry or Ron.
  • Ginny’s wizarding skills continuing to improve, and an increase in her competency as a witch. I wonder what kind of career she will pursue, or how many O.W.L.s she’ll receive?
  • Ginny’s curiosity getting the better of her? (Or some other interpretation of the cat references.)

Hope everyone enjoyed this File (I know it was another long one, but I wanted to make sure I did my research!). Thanks for reading; remember to send your comments to christopherstephened at hotmail dot com and look out for the tenth folder, by multiple, multiple requests. I figure since ten is a pretty, round number, I should take on a rather monumental task, so Folder #10 will be the folder of Severus “Snivellus” Snape!! I’ve been doing quite a bit of research, so hopefully you will all enjoy that one!

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