Harry Potter and Hurricanes
Harry Potter, champion of the wizarding world, The Boy Who Lived, The Chosen One, the average teenager. What makes us love him and his world so? They’re great novels, you can get lost in a whole new world, you can relate to his problems.
You can relate to his problems.
This is a great deal of what kept me going through the horrible nightmare that was Hurricane Katrina. I am a senior in high school and have been obsessed with Harry Potter since the release of the second book. I always felt that I understood what he was going through, but I did not really understand until now. I read the books, scoured through them for new clues and mysteries, wrote fanfiction, visited MuggleNet everyday, and when I had to leave all of that behind, I realized what it meant to me.
The comparison between Harry’s life and mine began to emerge when my friends and I would send each other meaningful quotes from Harry Potter to give each other hope again as we watched our homes and lives being destroyed. We sent quotes such as Dumbledore’s in Goblet of Fire:
“It is my belief…that we are all facing dark and difficult times. Some of you in this shall have been affected directly by Lord Voldemort [Katrina]. Many of your families have been torn asunder.”
-GoF, US edition, pp. 723-24
Then we really started going. Since my friends and I are “seventh years” and were spread out across the country and might not see each other again for months, if ever, we ironically drew comfort from the fact that Harry might not be at his school for his seventh year, and he too may not see Ron and Hermione again for a long time (even though I think Harry should go back to Hogwarts, but that’s another editorial). Harry was unable to take the test for his Apparition license, and my hopes for getting a driver’s license are now gone, at least for a while.
But wait, theres more. I had to go to a new school, where absolutely no one knew me, and I had to go to a public co-ed school, whereas I usually attend a private all girls school. So, like 11-year-old Harry, I entered a totally new world. I got lost for days, and like Harry and Ron in PS/SS, I felt proud when I finally knew my way around. But I was also lonely, and had no friends, and was bullied for being the odd, new one.
My clothes were all too big and baggy because they were donated. And just like Harry always used to be the last chosen for games at Muggle school, I was always last chosen for group projects. I always felt so sorry for Harry to have no friends, nobody to joke with, nobody to hang around with. Well, let me tell you, at that school, I was Harry and I knew how he must have felt to sit by himself at lunch and recess everyday and have people give him cold looks.
So, whenever I was feeling down, I would think about Harry and how he dealt with his troubles. At one point during the hurricane, there was a tornado at the place we evacuated to. We all had to pile into an inside closet, and when a spider ran over my foot in the darkness, I cracked up laughing because I was in the closet under the stairs and spiders were everywhere and once again I was Harry. When my family asked what in the world I was laughing about, I told them in between gasps, and they just gave me a strange look and confirmed their suspicions that I am a hopeless Harry Potter fanatic.
After that, I looked for ways to cheer myself up by comparing myself to Harry. In one of my classes, the teacher was really a rather intolerant figure. One day in class, she forced us to put everything away and just read the chapter and said, I kid you not, “There will be no need to talk,” with the dire warning that if we did, we would receive a zero on our tests. I had to work hard not to laugh because there was Professor Umbridge right in front of me.
So, is my life, and thousands of others, really messed up because of Hurricane Katrina? Yes. But when I think of how much more of a messed up life Harry leads, and how he always keeps going and never gives up, I feel like I can do it too.
Am I a little nuts to draw so much comfort from a ficticious character’s troubles? Maybe. But will I pull through this ordeal somehow? Thanks to JK for creating this character, I WILL!
Also, thanks to MuggleNet staff for the link to donate to Hurricane Katrina victims. It meant a lot.
Editor’s note: Sure, I’m biased, but I hope everyone understands why I had to post this editorial. As a fellow evacuee (who didn’t really evacuate and is still living in the middle of if all), I wanted to remind people how deeply the Harry Potter series can touch people in all walks of life.
Also, I wanted to join MissGranger and say thanks to everyone who donated money or shared their thoughts during this horrible time. Though you may not see it on the news as much, things are still pretty bad from Louisiana to Mississippi to Alabama. But they’re getting better day by day. And like MissGranger, I and probably many other HP fans affected by this storm found a little bit of normalcy in our favorite stories during and after the lights went out.
I mean, try reading HBP by candlelight…talk about fanatical!