Saturday, June 16, 2007


The Deluxe Scholastic Edition cover art of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows shows the trio riding a dragon!

We've seen a lot of flying in the various Harry Potter books, as they pointed on on the most recent episode of Pottercast. Here is the list I came up with:

  • Harry flies on a broomstick in Book One. Many of the other students do so, too, though Harry does it somewhat better than the rest. Harry gets a Nimbus Two Thousand, a very fast racing broom.
  • Ron, Fred and George rescue Harry from the Dursleys in a flying Ford Anglia in Book Two. Harry and Ron arrive at Hogwarts in the same flying car. Snape thinks it's there way of showing off. In the same book, Harry, Ron, Ginny and Professor Lockhart all fly out of the Chamber of Secrets by hanging onto the tail of Fawkes the Phoenix.
  • Harry, Hermione and Sirius fly on Buckbeak the Hippogriff in Book Three. Harry's Nimbus is destroyed and replaced by a Firebolt, an international standard broom that seems much faster and better even than the Nimbus.
  • Book Four shows us that Harry on his Firebolt is able to confuse a dragon. I guess, in the book, the dragon doesn't fly around like it does in the movie. Viktor Krum, who is a famous and talented Seeker, admires Harry's flying ability. Another wizarding method of flying is mentioned, but we learn that, in Britian at least, flying carpets are banned at present. They didn't used to be, though, and were useful for family transportation, apparently.
  • Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville, and Luna all fly on Thestrals in Book Five. Only Harry, Neville and Luna can see them, making the trip even more unnerving for the rest. We learn that Dumbledore sometimes uses this method of transportation.
  • I can't think of anything new Harry flies on in Book Six.

So what am I getting at? I'm wondering if there's some symbolism to flying in the Harry Potter books. In many of the books, Harry's figurative death (which happens in each book) occurs underground, or he goes underground right before it. So is flying a symbol of resurrection or something similar?

  • In Book One, the flying precedes the figurative death, coming much earlier in the book. However, it does seem to highlight Harry's feelings of belonging in the Wizarding World and freedom from the oppression he felt with the Dursleys.
  • In Book Two, again, the flying car rescues him from virtual imprisonment at the Dursleys, and it enables them to get to Hogwarts when the barrier has mysteriously shut itself against them. At the end of the book, Fawkes could certainly be seen as a resurrection symbol.
  • In Book Three, Buckbeak saves the life of the innocent Sirius. This occurs after Harry and Sirius, as well as Hermione, almost lose their souls to the soul-sucking Dementors.
  • In Book Four, Harry uses his broom to keep from being killed by the dragon, and in addition he scores fairly well in the first task and manages to convince Ron he never planned to enter the tournament himself, thus healing the rift in their friendship.
  • In Book Five, the Thestrals can only be seen by those who have seen someone die. Regardless, they are able to bring all six students to the Ministry, where they again go underground and Harry almost dies. I'm not sure I see much symbolism here.
So, often in the Harry Potter novels, flying brings freedom and a sense of belonging, if not actually saving a life. Harry seems unusually adept at flying, even for a Wizard.

That's all I can come up with. I'd love to hear comments about this, I'm sure I've missed something.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Narrative Misdirection

Harry, Ron and Hermione are in the woods after the Quidditch World Cup. They see Winky the House-elf walking in a strange manner, as if someone invisible where trying to hold her back. Did you see that? But Harry is ready for a more plausible explanation, comparing her behavior to that of Dobby when he's punishing himself for disobeying his master. That seems to satisfy everyone, including the reader, and we go on our merry way.

Why am I bringing this up? I occurred to me that Harry has a ready-made explanation for why Snape hates him so much. Because of his father. It makes sense, but is it correct?

Things to think about:

We've never been given a satisfactory explanation for why Snape hates Neville so much.

And there are some good reasons for Snape to hate Harry that we haven't considered, though they may be equally incorrect. Snape hates Harry because Harry is responsible for the Dark Lord's downfall. Snape hates Harry and Neville because their parents fought against the Dark Lord; maybe the parents, who both thrice defied Lord Voldemort, were responsible for the death or imprisonment of someone Snape was close to. These are good explanations for why Evil!Snape would hate Harry.

Why would Good!Snape hate Harry and Neville? If he's on the same side, working for the same goal, why would he make such a point to be mean to Harry and Neville? All I can come up with is that it's probably right in front of our face (like the invisible person in the woods with Winky) yet we fail to see it because we like Harry's explanation better.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Speaking of sleeping . . .

. . . as I was in my previous post, I have to write down the crazy dream I had the other night.

I only remember from the middle of the dream. Something had led up to where I found myself in the part I remember, but I don't know what it was.

In my dream, I was in a store, a big store with shopping carts like Wal-Mart or Sam's Club. Instead of products loose in my cart, I had a rather large cardboard shipping box. The flaps were open (I mean, not taped shut) but folded back closed so you couldn't see what was in it. The box was probably big enough to hold 10 copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, or, well, about the size box that 10 reams of copy paper come in. Maybe a bit smaller. As far as I can remember, it was the only thing in my cart.

So I pushed the cart over out of the way of the traffic and lifted one of the flaps to see what was in the box. There were other items in it, but right on top was a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It had the cover and the title and it looked just like the little animation on the Leaky Cauldron, the one that spins around, except it was full-sized and not spinning, just sitting in the box.

Now, in my dream I know I was a bit surprised to find the book there but I seemed to know I hadn't stolen it. However I'd gotten the box and its contents, it was legal for me to have them, I'd paid for them or whatever, I hadn't stolen them from the back office of my local Borders or whatever. But I also knew it wasn't yet July 21 and I wasn't supposed to have a copy this soon.

And I made up my mind, I just had to close the flaps and nonchalantly go to my car, not running or drawing attention to myself, but just calmly and like I wasn't doing anything wrong. Like I said before, I wasn't stealing. I have no idea how the box came in my possession but I hadn't stolen it, I know that much. Maybe the store had a parcel pickup window like a post office and I'd picked it up, and somehow my pre-order came early. Maybe my brother came across a copy and mailed it to me. Maybe Jo realizes how hard it is for me to wait and sent me an advance copy. Who knows.

So my plan was to go to the car, drive home and lock myself in my room and read the book, then try to keep quiet about the plot till July 21. Not to tell anyone, not to spoil it for anyone or try to make a bet on the outcome, just to enjoy it because, well, because I had it, because I could. (The hardest part about that would be keeping it from my children, esp. my youngest. He's the one who sneaks into my room to borrow my magic wand and play with it. And it's a rather large book to hide. But he can't keep a secret to save his life so I wouldn't be able to keep the book if I told him. 45 min. later the news media and the police would be at my door, wanting the book back.)

But then I woke up. My light-sleeper of a son, who's light it seemed I'd just turned out a few minutes before, woke up, went to the bathroom and then wanted me to tuck him in again.

And the moment was ruined. The book was gone. It looks like I'm going to have to wait till July 21 like everyone else.


Never Tickle a Sleeping Dragon

Why not?

Maybe if you tickle them, they let you ride them?

Just a thought. It just occurred to me to connect that Hogwarts motto with the cover art for the Scholastic Deluxe Hardcover edition, and that's what I came up with.

It's late at night. I'll probably think I was very silly when I wake up in the morning.

Can Fred and George predict the future, or can they time travel?

I'm re-reading GoF and I've just got to the part where Fred and George make a wager with Ludo Bagman.

So, they bet something that sounds so unlikely that they must have known ahead of time how the match would end. How?

I see two alternatives. Time travel and Divination.

We never learn what extra subjects Fred and George took, so we don't know if they took Divination or if they were any good at it. What we do know is that our author seems to, for the most part, discount Divination as in imprecise branch of magic (because Dumbledore and McGonagall think this, among others).

So that leaves u with Time Travel. We know it's happened before. How would they do it? The Fred and George who went to the match then go back in time and tell their other selves, the ones who haven't seen the match yet, who won? Or do Fred and George somehow go forward in time? We don't see anyone going forward in time in PoA, so we don't know if Wizards can do so or not.

If Fred and George have mastered this, without a time turner, this might be useful for Harry in the last book.