Gryffindor Tower #25: Of Responses and Relationships
Quite obviously, spoiler alert.
I had hoped that this edition of GT would begin my venture into the chapter analyses of HBP; however, two things have happened since my last column which have forced me to take a different approach, one of which is quite excellent, the other, rather pitiful.
So many of you have e-mailed me since my last column that I, for the first time ever, was quite overwhelmed; the sheer number of comments is the sole reason for this edition being a few days late. However, I am not upset, far from it; I welcome all comments, and am elated at the outpouring of hypotheses and responses to the last GT. However, as I was working on this column for the past few days, I have come across a few headlines in the Harry Potter world that have alarmed me greatly, not to mention have put some people I respect immensely in rather awkward positions, namely the webmasters of our own MuggleNet, and another distinguished and wonderful HP fan site, The Leaky Cauldron.
In October of 1999, Jo said in an interview that Harry and Hermione are platonic friends. Platonic, for those of you who don’t know, means non-sexual, or, in other words, they are friends who have no physical attraction towards each other (before anyone e-mails me saying that Harry told Hermione in OotP that she’s not ugly, realize that you all have friends of the opposite sex with whom, though you may find pretty or cute, you have no desire whatsoever to engage in romantic relations). I have heard all of the retorts before: Harry saved Hermione from being swapped by Grawp (guys and girls: if you saved a member of the same sex from being killed, does that mean you are attracted to them? No, and it works the same way with a boy and a girl); Hermione kissed Harry at the end of GoF (he just saw his friend killed, and he was almost killed that doesn’t mean she wants him, that means she feels sorrow); etc. We’ve had the proof in front of us for years, the hints and clues, yet certain members of HP fandom have chosen to ignore these ciphers. That is fine; we are all allowed extrapolation. However, now the truth has come out. That’s it, it’s over but for some reason, many of you have continued to carry on about it. You are angered by the fact that Emerson called you delusional well, let’s face it, if you look at the sky, and it’s blue, and you ask ten thousand people, and they say it’s blue, and you continue to believe it’s orange well, that’s a tad bit narrow-minded, wouldn’t you say? However, you may ask yourselves, if I feel that this conversation is worthless, then why do I bring it up? Two very logical reasons.
First, the HP stories, no matter how much you’d like to believe so, are not about dating. Let me reiterate: THE HARRY POTTER BOOKS ARE NOT ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS. If you’re looking for romance novels, pick up Nora Roberts or Danielle Steele. If, at the end of Book Seven, Harry cannot defeat Voldemort because he isn’t dating Hermione, then I’ll be damned. But we all know that won’t be the case, because, at its essence, Harry Potter is about the struggle of good versus evil, the strength of friendship and loyalty, and the need for love in our world. Not teenage snogging; love (I’ve always wanted to say snogging, woohoo).
The second reason I’ve brought this up? A few days ago, The San Francisco Chronicle featured an article about the uproar of Harry-Hermione shippers after the release of Book Six. Have any of the irate H/Hr shippers stopped to think about the millions of HP fans who have stood up for HP fandom, against claims of childishness and simplicity? In this very column I have had to defend myself against Lord of the Rings fans who, bigoted as they are, have claimed that HP is for children who cannot understand more advanced literature. Those of us who have stood for the depth and meaning of HP (and don’t misunderstand me, I still stand by those claims; HP has as much layered meaning as the greatest works of literature) have said countless times that even the youngest of fans are learning immeasurable amounts by reading HP. After all of this, what kind of argument breaks out that creates so much buzz that international news sources are covering the rabble? A conflict about HP dating.
This conflict has got to end, now. Ron likes Hermione, Hermione likes Ron, Harry likes Ginny, Ginny likes Harry. End of story. It doesn’t matter anymore. And, for anyone who has verbally assaulted Jo for how she has written, I have but one question: Who in the heck do you think you are? This is not your grand work, your masterpiece; you are not the author who single-handedly revived reading among children. You have not struggled for over fifteen years to see your literary work reach the hands of millions across the world. And if you ever do, then write your works the way you see fit. But do not attack a literary genius because the two characters you wanted to see hook up didn’t. It’s immature and pitiful, and there’s no place for such inflammatory discussion in the HP world. As our own beloved webmaster has already said to the militant H/Hr shippers, it’s time to lick your wounds and move on.
Now, to some happier discussion. As I’ve said, the amount of feedback on the last column was overwhelming, and I think it better to address some of the most popular comments I have received. So, this edition’s Owl Post is quite extensive, and begins with this:
[commenting on the horcruxes] Dumbledore mentioned Riddle’s fondness for historical relics, specifically those belonging to the Hogwarts Four, what about the Sorting Hat?–Shira
Well, since Shira has e-mailed me after every GT I’ve written with some of the most intelligent responses I’ve ever read, I figured I’d answer her comment first (now may be a good time to mention that, if you also asked me a question I answer in GT, but your name is not here, I just can’t fit the names of every person who asked me each question, or this column would be fifty pages long; I simply choose the first person who asks it). I was quite befuddled when Dumbledore didn’t mention the Sorting Hat as a relic of Gryffindor’s; he mentioned the sword as the only relic. I wondered if this was a slip on Jo’s part, and I still do not have an answer, but here’s my guess: Neither the sword nor the hat can be a horcrux, in my opinion, because, as Dumbledore suggests, they are too well guarded within the walls of Hogwarts. It is, of course, possible, but highly unlikely, that Voldemort could have gotten his hands on the sword, as for the hat, well, he did spend seven years at Hogwarts, years in which we know he’d visited Headmaster Dippett’s office at least once. Can he, in that time, have turned the hat into a horcrux? The problem with discovering an answer to this question is that we do not know the specifics of creating horcruxes. We know that you must commit murder, thus rending your soul in two, but then what? Does the object have to be present when the crime is committed? We know that at least one student died during Voldemort’s tenure at Hogwarts, but while Moaning Myrtle’s death was caused by Riddle, it was not technically committed by him. The theories to how he could have made the Sorting Hat a horcrux are numerous, but, in my opinion, we cannot definitively decide upon an answer at this junction. As I have said, however, I am of the belief that Gryffindor’s artifacts are not horcruxes.
The disappearance of Fawkes may be linked to a horcrux or may mean even that Dumbledore is not truly dead. Harry himself may even be a horcrux.–Katie
The phoenix question, wherein it seems a phoenix flies from Dumbledore’s pyre at the end of HBP, has been brought up continually. The question is, basically: Is Dumbledore dead? To that I have no answer. If anyone besides Voldemort can safeguard himself against death, it’s Dumbledore, but I cannot remember reading any clues as to Dumbledore being immortal, with the exception of his choice of pet. If anyone has any ideas on this, please e-mail them to me.
Also, since these emails have been pouring in too, let me again remind you all: I AM NOT DANIEL RADCLIFFE. Thank you.
Now if you look at pg. 441 (US edition), Harry notices that the only difference between the past and present office of Dumbledore, is that snow was falling in the past, meaning that Voldemort’s meeting with Dumbledore occurred sometime in the winter.–Joe
This is one of the things I meant to mention two columns ago. While rereading OotP before the Book Six release, I noticed that Professor McGonagall took over as Transfiguration teacher thirty-nine years before the year in which OotP takes place. The odd thing was, she began in December. I dunno if boarding schools are different, but is it normal for a teacher to begin her tenure in the middle of a school year? The only logical explanation is that Dippett died at that time, Dumbledore was moved from Transfiguration teacher to Headmaster, and McGonagall was hired. That would seem to fit into the time frame, odd, though, that Voldemort would apply for a job at about the same time as Dippett passed away. Maybe Voldemort killed Dippett? Why, though? Again, just an idea.
You can’t do an unforgivable curse and not mean it.–Kirsty
That is quite true. You must want the person to die, when performing the Avada Kedavra Curse. So Snape must have wanted Dumbledore to die. But think of this – none of the Death Eaters, from Malfoy to Snape to Greyback, kill Dumbledore. They flee, and Snape’s ability to sabotage Voldemort is destroyed. With that goes any hope that someone close to Voldemort can protect Harry when the time comes. Voldemort kills Harry, no one can stop him, he destroys the entire world. Now, pretend that, no matter how horrible it sounds, you know that killing one person, a person who wants you to commit this act, will save the entire world. Would you do it? Maybe you wouldn’t be able to but if anyone could, don’t you think Snape could?
I think that the sixth horcrux is Harry.–about ten million people
The thought struck me too, but the question is why? Why would Voldemort do that, knowing that, if he kills Harry, then he is destroying part of his own soul? There’s only one logical explanation to Harry being a horcrux. Dumbledore has said many times that Voldemort’s greatest weakness is his refusal to believe that there can be anything worse than death. Harry knows there is much worse than death – suffering, for instance, over the loss of loved ones. If Voldemort turned Harry into a horcrux, knowing that Harry would have to kill himself to kill Voldemort, then that would make Voldemort believe that he’s invincible, since, in his mind, no one would sacrifice themselves to kill another. Now where it gets interesting. We know that Dumbledore destroyed Marvolo Gaunt’s ring, that is to say, he destroyed the – I don’t know – horcrux part of it? The odd thing is, it is mentioned that the jewel in the ring is cracked, which may not seem important. There is, however, an artist’s rendering of the ring on the Bloomsbury web site (fans-ecards). The ring has a zigzagging crack running down it, shaped like, say, a bolt of lightning. We don’t know if turning something into a horcrux leaves a mark of some sort nor do we know if one can inadvertently turn something or someone into a horcrux. Voldemort did kill two people on the night that Harry received his lightning-bolt scar. Could a lightning-bolt mark be the sign of a created horcrux? It seems entirely possible and to all of you thinking that Harry must die: I have thought since Book Five that Harry was going to die at the end – this doesn’t mean I want it to happen. But think about the fact that Dumbledore destroyed the ring, yet it’s still physically there. Maybe Harry can destroy the horcrux that he is without killing himself.
Since I haven’t done a book review in a long time, let me take a quick moment to talk about two of the best books I’ve read lately: The Rivers of Zadaa: Pendragon, Book Sixby D.J. MacHale, and Eldest, Book Two of the Inheritance Trilogy by Christopher Paolini. The sixth Pendragon book is an amazing continuation of the series, pitting Bobby Pendragon, Traveler across space and time, against the evil Saint Dane once again. This time, however, Saint Dane is not only screwing with one territory, but with multiple; he jumps from territory to territory, creating havoc that even the Travelers may not be able to stop. I’ve recommended the Pendragon books before, and I urge you all again to pick them up (you can get the whole series off Amazon for about twenty bucks). As for Eldest, to say that a writer has improved greatly since their first book is always a plus. But when the first book was one of the best-written fantasy books of our age, and written by a fifteen-year-old, to say that he’s improved can only mean great things! Eldest follows in the path of many great fantasy tales, taking the reader through Eragon and Saphira’s newest adventures. I was lucky enough to procure an advanced readers copy, and all I can say is that the next book in the Inheritance Trilogy is not only better than its origin, but rivals all fantasy books on the market today. And I mean ALL.
Finally, many of you, more than I can quite honestly imagine why, have asked me if I cried during the end of HBP, specifically right after Dumbledore died, and during the funeral. Let me tell you like this: I’m 22 years old, out of college, and engaged to be married. Do you honestly think I’d cry over a book?
I bawled. Badly. For almost forty minutes.
Until next time, you’re all delusional. Just kidding!