Deathly Hallows Discussion Point #9: Traditional Symbolism

Ms. Rowling includes a “resurrection” scene in every Harry Potter novel (see, yes, Unlocking Harry Potter: Five Keys for the Serious Reader) and Deathly Hallows conforms to pattern . Instead of “symbols of Christ” helping Harry, however, through his figurative death, in Hallows Harry seems to be a Christ figure at least in offering himself in obedience and as agnal sacrifice to free the world from evil. We see snakes again used consistently (contrary to Michael O’Brien’s assertions) as evil, an afterlife “holding area,” and a “seekers symbol” misunderstood as a political device. What symbols did you notice in Deathly Hallows and how effectively were they used?

Deathly Hallows Discussion Point #10: Beheadings

Each Harry Potter novel has featured characters who have been beheaded, nearly beheaded, or who are predicted to be beheaded. Ms. Rowling loves Tale of Two Cities, especially the ending, and a reader named “Reyhan” at predicted that Severus, if anyone, would play the Sydney Carton role and take it in the neck. What “beheadings” or neck deaths did you note in Deathly Hallows and were any on the Sydney Carton model?

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?