Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Oh, to be skilled at Occlumency

There are moments in the books where I'd dearly love to be able to read the minds of various characters. Here are two examples:

The moment when Snape enters Lupin's office early on in Prisoner of Azkaban and finds Harry sitting there chatting with Lupin. What is Snape thinking when he sees them together?

Another moment is one I've just re-read in Goblet of Fire. The first Defense Against the Dark Arts class with the character who appears for almost all of the book to be Alastor Moody but who is, in reality, Barty Crouch, Jr.

Now, if I have my backstory right, Barty was part of the foursome who were convicted of torturing the Longbottoms into insanity. He may have even seen Neville at the Longbottom house when this occurred, we don't know for sure. I've always wondered if the Death Eaters put some sort of memory charm on the young Neville so he wouldn't remember what happened that day.

So, in the classroom, we see Barty Crouch Jr. come face to face with Neville. The fake Moody stares hard at Neville and it's clear he knows who he is and who his parents are.

After class, he almost apologizes to both Harry and Neville for bringing up painful memories, explaining that "you've got to know" what's out there, what they're up against. He makes sure Harry's not too upset, and he takes Neville back to his office with him for a cup of tea and some conversation.

Later, Neville arrives back in the Common Room with the book that would, had Harry consulted it, have contained the answer to how to breathe underwater. Neville is in a much-improved mood and Harry reflects that this is something Lupin would have done (reaching out to a student and helping them gain confidence).

So, was getting the solution to the second task into Harry's hands the only motivation for this concern for Neville's well-being? Wouldn't there have been another way to tip Harry off to the actions of Gillyweed? What is Barty feeling, coming face-to-face with someone who's been so negatively affected by the crime he had a hand in committing?

Further on in the book, I find myself questioning his motivation again. Why does he go to such great lengths to teach Harry how to fight off the Imperius curse? Doesn't this give Harry a greater chance of getting away from Voldemort? Why would this be something a Death Eater would want to do? It doesn't seem to be something that will help Harry in any of the Triwizard Tasks.

I'm not sure we'll even see a mention of Barty Crouch, Jr., in the Deathly Hallows, but I really would like an answer to these questions.