Deathly Hallows Discussion Point #11: Unrequited Love

Severus Snape’s allegiance and motivations had become the central question surrounding the series; we learn in The Prince’s Tale, Severus’ memories given by him at his death, that his service to Dumbledore and Harry is all a consequence of his unrequited love for Harry’s mother, Lily, Severus’ childhood friend. Severus vows to Dumbledore that he will do anything for him if the Headmaster will save Lily from Voldemort; at Lily’s death, Severus is convinced that his continuing love for her means he must stay on at Hogwarts to protect her son. Two questions: Are Severus’ thoughts about Harry an echo of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights and his bizarre relationship with Catherine Earnshaw (or another tip of the hat to Sydney Carton)? Was dropping all this Snape information at the very end of the very last book “brilliant story-telling” or “breaking the rules of detective fiction” ( i.e., withholding clues)?

Deathly Hallows Discussion Point #12: The Horcruxes and the Deathly Hallows

No surprises here — every one of the Horcruxes was either mentioned by Dumbledore in Prince (the locket, the cup, and Nagini) or listed by many in Fandom as “very likely” Horcrux possibilities (the Ravenclaw tiara and Harry himself). I guess the biggest surprise was there were seven Horcruxes and the soul fragment in Lord Voldemort for a total of eight. Of course, we don’t destroy our first Horcrux until page 377 (Scholastic) so I wondered if we were going to find a Horcrux dump and blow a bunch up simultaneously…. Did anyone find the “Deathly Hallows” mystery inside the Horcrux hunt a little distracting or disappointing? Ron’s destruction of the Locket was a high point of the books and the Cup capture in Gringotts and diadem find at Hogwarts were both exciting. Did the discovery in The Prince’s Tale that Harry was a Horcrux and his trip into the Forbidden Forest in the next chapter for his destruction surprise you? Was Harry’s response credible and well-developed or hurried and hard to believe? Did the Horcrux Hunt parts of Deathly Hallows meet your expectations?

Deathly Hallows Discussion Point #13: Ron’s Departure and Return

If the terrible trio, Ron, Hermione, and Harry, are a body – mind – spirit triptych a la The Brothers Karamazov and more recent depictions in Star Trek and Star Wars, Ron represents the “body” or “passions” soul faculty. They decide to wear the Locket Horcrux (shades of Frodo!), and Ron is, naturally, the most affected by it’s evil heart. Nonetheless, his departure for the better part of four chapters is easily the Nigredo of Deathly Hallows and his transformation and return one of the more inspiring and exciting moments of the book (the series?). The apotheosis of the change in Ron, gauged by Hermione’s reaction, is his concern about the house-elves in The Battle of Hogwarts. I’m not sure Ron “gets” house-elves even then (his suggestion is patronizing and borderline racist rather than recognizing the power of these creatures); what are your thoughts about Ron’s role in Deathly Hallows? Are the changes he goes through realistic? Meaningful?

Deathly Hallows Discussion Point #14: Transformations

Ron isn’t the only one going through the twist in Deathly Hallows. Remus Lupin, Kreacher, Aberforth Dumbledore, Percy Weasley, Neville Longbottom, Draco Malfoy and his parents, the Centaurs, and even Griphook (if the appearance of Ragnuk the First’s sword in Neville’s hands is an indication of his change of heart rather than Gryffindor theft) are much different folks at the end of Deathly Hallows than they were at the beginning or when we left them in Prince. The changes range from the almost instantaneous (Kreacher, Aberforth, the Centaurs) to more developed (Neville, Remus, Draco). Each Harry Potter novel has been about choices and change, especially Harry’s transformation over the book’s adventures. How does Harry change in Deathly Hallows and how do these other characters’ transformations highlight Harry’s choices, right or wrong?

Deathly Hallows Discussion Point #15: Nazi History Echoes

Beside the Orwellian 1984 hat-tips in the “Magic is Might” statue and policies of the Voldemort directed Ministry of Magic, I was struck by two different Deathly Hallows plot points that seemed conscious signs connecting the Dark Lord and the German National Socialists of the ’30’s and ’40’s. The first was the symbol that Xenophilius Lovegood wears to the wedding which so offends Viktor Krum. The swastika similarly is an ancient spiritual symbol that cannot be shown anywhere without drama (it is illegal in Germany, for instance) because of its use by the Nazis, albeit an inverted swastika. Voldemort’s desire to find the Elder Wand or “Wand of Destiny,” too, points to Hitler’s desire to find and use the so-called “Spear of Destiny” in building the Third Reich. Ms. Rowling even has Dumbledore as a young man fall to this temptation of overlooking individual rights and freedom “for the greater good,” a signature quality of totalitarian regimes. Did you find these Nazi references or pointers disturbing? Effective? What was Ms. Rowling driving at? Bad-Guy points no one in the UK could miss (“he’s like Hitler!”) or effective criticism by association?