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Harry Potter and the Blogs of Doom

Monday, July 9, 2007
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We shall now play special wizard frisbee!

Well, ‘tis the Season of Harry Potter, that ubiquitous wiz-kid, who may or may not be coming to a cruel end in the up-coming 7th and final instalment of author J.K. Rawling’s blockbuster epic, titled Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

And of course, Harry’s future is thee question on every fan’s mind. Rawling has tantalizingly announced that two major characters are going to be killed off before the last page is turned (I’m sure a bunch of minor characters will also get the boot). If one of them is Harry, then who might the other one be? And if not Harry, that leaves two more from the dozen or so other major characters in the story whose fate also hangs in the balance. Sarah and I (both self-confessed Potter enthusiasts) discuss these vital questions through a series of emails. Warning – spoilers ahead, matey.

From: graeme
Sent: Monday, July 09, 2007 11:23 AM
To: Sarah

Okay, first off, here’s a short list of who I think won’t die: Ron and Hermione are perhaps the safest pair in the whole thing. I think if Rawlings wanted to pull a major upset, it would be killing off one of these two, but I don’t think she will. They are necessary for the story, in order to hook up and have little wizard babies, and therefore ensure that the wizarding world is in good hands. Professor McGonagall and Hagrid are also fairly safe bets, as are Ron’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley.

Apart from them, however, I think any of the major characters could be considered fair game, and that still leaves a fairly long list – Harry, Snape, Neville, Draco and Daddy Malfoy (Lucious), any of the Order of the Phoenix (aside from the Weasleys of course). Voldemort, naturally won’t stick around – he’s really the only one that we can be sure will get severely deaded – though I don’t think he is included in those two characters Rawlings mentioned. Over to you, Sarah.

From: Sarah
Sent: Monday, July 09, 2007 11:59 AM
To: graeme

For the most part, I agree about the characters you think WON’T die, with one big exception: Hagrid. He’s been a friend to the kids since the very beginning, but he’s not essential to a “happy ending.” And his magical powers are dubious at best, making him a target. And because he’s a sweet, lovable goof, his death could serve as motivation for some major event in book 7. I think he’s a potential goner. And here I think we need to make a distinction between good guys dying and bad guys dying. I think all the Death Eaters are going to die, and of course Voldemort (I don’t think anyone doubts that).

But who do we think are bad guys? I personally think Snape and Draco are NOT bad guys, and therefore are in the running as one of the two main characters that Rowling has spoken/written about. I don’t think Rowling will kill Draco; she has spent too much time on making him a complex and self-conflicted character to kill him off. He’s not Harry’s nemesis (Voldemort is), but he’s ying to Harry’s yang. He needs to be around at the end. As far as Snape is concerned, I am firmly of the belief he is a good guy. I could go into why (if you want), but suffice to say, I think he is a good candidate for one of the good guys that dies. And I believe that his death will be sacrificial, proving to Harry and his mates once and for all that he truly was loyal to Dumbledore and the fight against the Dark Lord. Your thoughts?

From: graeme
Sent: Monday, July 09, 2007 1:45 PM
To: Sarah

Hmm, Hagrid is a tough one… I see your point, I just think so much has been made to keep Hagrid around (he was sent to Azkaban, and pretty much in every book he’s in danger of being arrested, or removed from Hogwarts). He really has developed into the most lovable character in the series. Killing him off would be very powerful dramatically, but she would have to do it really well for it not to feel like an easy tug on the heartstrings. (Funny how we, as readers, now feel as responsible for the characters as Rawlings does.)

And yeah, I think it was pretty obvious what was going at the end of the 6th book with Snape and Dumbledore. Snape is not an evil guy – he’s just not a nice guy, and one of the most complex characters in the whole series. He is a goner for sure, but not before he sacrifices himself to save one of the kids – perhaps Harry, or perhaps Neville, or even, perhaps Draco – cause I see what you’re saying about Draco not dying (he could become the next Snape). I’m curious – what makes you think Harry won’t die?

From: Sarah
Sent: Monday, July 09, 2007 1:50 PM
To: graeme

One of the greatest strengths of Rowling’s writing is the same quality we find in C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien’s – that of a bigger, overarching purpose for everything that happens, be it to the main characters or the minor ones. This also means that no matter the centrality of a character, or a few important characters (Harry, the trio, or Dumbledore), they all fit within a more important scheme; each has a role to play in submission to the greater story (sometimes referred to as fate). And that greater purpose is always good. That is why Rowling could kill Dumbledore in the end of Half Blood Prince – it was more important for the happiness of everyone that he die. We just won’t find out exactly why until the 7th book, probably at the end.

And in crafting such a story, Rowling is able to create characters like Snape and Draco that have a surface much different than their hidden beings (I think). And over time, that fatalistic force draws out their true characters and purpose. It makes for a very engaging story. We want to see good triumph, and we can’t understand how a character like Dumbledore could have been so blind. We need resolution. There is an unwritten contract between Rowling and her readers that good will prevail through the unseen hand of fate. In fact you will find it in most great literature. The author is bound by an expectation that somehow good will out. It’s basically what makes the Harry Potter series so good for younger and older readers alike. And it’s why Harry won’t die in book 7. That and it’s a kid’s series at the end of it all.

There you go bringing Lewis and Tolkien into it. And here I thought we could have a nice, uncomplicated discussion…oh well. Anyway, I guess we’ll never know…until the book comes out on July 21. For the record, I’m putting my money on Snape and Neville. Oh, and just as an aside, according to Wikipedia, the Japanese translation of the 7th book is Harry Potter and Secret Treasure of Death, which I thought was pretty good. llewopemeargllewopharas

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Monday, July 9, 2007 4:09 pm

    Hi there,
    My first comment on your blog. I too am looking foward to this seventh and final installment of the Trials of Harry. I agree that Snape is a strong candidate for offing, particularly as a sacrificial death so that Harry/the trio and the reader know for sure that he really is a good, but complicated, guy. Because you brought up Tolkien, remember that Gandalf the Grey was also a powerful and somewhat unknown wizard (hence the grey). He, too, sacrificed his life for the greater good. On his return, though, he was Gandalf the White; he had worked through his own demons—as well as the ones chasing the band of nine—and came out on the side of good.

    I also agree with your assessment that Draco is likely the next Snape. I don’t think he will be killed, though.

    I also think there’s a great chance of Harry dying while fighting Voldemort; notice the strength of each of their powers seem to be increasing simultaneously: their death fight will be one of equals.

    Finally, I think Neville is a very good choice as a main character dying. Note that he is sort of Harry’s doppelganger (not sure if that’s the right term). His life parallels Harry’s much as St. Francis’ life parallelled Christ’s. But, as Christ was the one sacrificed, the stronger “truer” one, It’s likely that Harry will be the one to die.

    Just my thoughts.

    Margaret

  2. Sarah P permalink
    Monday, July 9, 2007 5:41 pm

    Margaret,

    I totally agree!

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