Turn to Page 394: “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” Edition
Professor Snape instructed the class to turn to page 394 in their Defense Against the Dark Arts textbook in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The class obliges and flips to the page, only to discover that they would be learning about werewolves – how fitting, since Snape is covering for an indisposed Professor Lupin. But in this series of editorials, we’re diving into what lessons await us on each page 394 in the Harry Potter series.
We started with the time-bending lessons from year three in Turn to Page 394: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Edition. We’re referencing the US hardcover editions, so if your editions have different content on page 394 we’d love to hear about it in the comments! Now, let’s pull out our copies of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and (in Snape’s voice) “turn to page 394.”
We Apparate into the Gryffindor common room and sit down with Harry, Ron, Hermione, Fred, and George talking about the highly anticipated and nerve-racking Yule Ball. Harry and Ron are far from having dates, and their adolescent timidness is the only thing standing in their way. We see the contrast between how they’re handling the situation and how Fred is confidently able to yell across the room at Angelina Johnson and get an “all right, then” to secure himself a partner. They engage in immature and rude talk about all the “good ones” being taken, ending up with a pair of trolls, or how they’d rather go alone than with Eloise Midgen. Unfortunately, I guess we can’t expect much else in this sort of scenario from some 14- and 15-year-old boys in the ’90s.
Page 394 in this book is also in the same chapter that Ron discovers – or at least dares to admit – that Hermione is a girl. However, he is too late in his realization, and she is asked by “the enemy,” as Ron puts it.
I appreciate how both the Harry Potter books and movies so accurately depict and portray teenage awkwardness. Growing up reading the books and watching the movies, I never understood why the characters, scenarios, and relationships were so relatable. Now, as an adult, I see it is because all of those are seamlessly tied to the odd, awkward, ever-changing, and insecure teenage soul. That might sound harsh, but this scene on page 394 and its encapsulating chapter are a direct reference to what I’m talking about.
There is something precious and innocent about a teenager, but also something confused and chaotic. The weeks leading up to the Yule Ball provide the students from all three wizarding schools with an equal amount of stress and excitement. It provided audiences of the Harry Potter series an opportunity to see our magical friends experience something most Muggles experience – a school dance. The conflicting feelings of putting yourself out there to ask your crush, best friend, or someone you’ve been infatuated with since you first saw them is a pivotal moment in some young people’s lives.
We see how these different characters respond to a stressful, uncertain, and new experience. Fred is confident and asks a teammate; Hermione is content and exploring an unexpected relationship; Ron is panicked and mortified about everything from the dress robes to the dancing; Ginny is simply happy to be going; Harry is conflicted about Cho and out of his element. Which character’s avenue of navigating the Yule Ball is most like you in stressful or uncertain scenarios? Which character’s demeanor and approach would you prefer?
Whether it’s a school dance, moving to a new city, or getting your first job, any uncomfortable or new scenario sends us on a journey. It’s up to us how we approach, handle, and process it all. Your tendency may be similar to how Ron or Harry reacted as December 25th slowly crept closer. Perhaps you’re like Fred and handle these moments with ease and familiarity. Or maybe you see times like this as an opportunity to expand people’s perceptions of you, like Hermione.
I’d imagine that many readers would like to go about these situations like Fred, Hermione, or Ginny, who appear to be free from anxiety, insecurity, or fear of any kind. But it’s possible they are experiencing those feelings – they’re just manifesting them differently than Harry’s and Ron’s. Regardless, they all end up at the Yule Ball with dates, where each of them has a very different experience. Their individual experiences are a direct reflection of how they went about handling the weeks and days leading up to the event.
Perhaps when approaching a new moment or uncertain situation, think of the end result. Think of how you want to feel on the other side of that moment. Think of the kind of experience you want to have throughout the situation. Think of how you’ll feel when you follow your heart, your dream, or your goal and come out on the other side successfully.
Although Ron was embarrassed when he scream-asked Fleur to the ball, he still asked her. Neville was rejected by Hermione because she was already going with someone else, so Neville asked Ginny, and the two were the last to leave the ball. Hermione’s lovely evening came to a tear-filled end, but Viktor still asked her to write to him when he left Hogwarts.
Ultimately, everything – even stressful situations – is going to work out how it’s meant to happen… in one way or another.
Share with us which character you’re most like in situations like these, or which character you’re hoping to be like one day. Next up – page 394 in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.