Harry Potter characters using Narrative Misdirection? (Scar-O-Scope 102)

Narrative misdirection is Joanne Rowling’s signature device as a writer. Using the narrative line to turn the reader from what is happening requires remarkable planning and care. This “trick” is so much a part of her way of thinking and writing that I suggested last week that the “big twist” in store for us in Deathly Hallows is learning how Dumbledore and Snape contrived to make Half-Blood Prince a case study in narrative misdirection. If you missed that post, take a minute to read it here and be sure to read the responses. Most are profoundly skeptical that the characters in Ms. Rowling’s novels are using her tricks to put one over on their opponents in VoldeWar II the way she does to us.

If she is doing this, it would not be the first time.

In Chapter 13 of Chamber, “The Very Secret Diary,” Ron and Harry find a diary in the girls’ bathroom where Moaning Myrtle “lives.” Ron tells Harry not to pick it up or read it because books can be dangerous. Harry laughs that warning off, picks up the diary, and is not satisfied until he learns how to “read” it. I wrote in Looking for God in Harry Potter that Chamber is largely a book about how to read books and how to discern what makes a book good and what makes a book dangerous. In Chapter 13 of Chamber we learn that books really can be dangerous, if not exactly for the reasons Ron gives. Trusting the narrative line, Harry shows us, can make us believe things we shouldn’t believe. [Read more…]

Gleam of Triumph? Narrative Misdirection is the Key (Scar-O-Scope 101)

I received this letter today in my john@zossima mailbox and thought I would share my answer to start an important conversation here. Is narrative misdirection the single most important key to these books? Have Dumbledore and Snape written a script in Prince to be acted out in front of Voldemort via Harry’s scar-o-scope? Is the plan to deceive the-ghost-in-Harry’s-machine about how far along their pursuit of Horcruxes was and to plant Snape in a position to kill the Dark Lord after all the Horcruxes had been collected and destroyed? To include the one on Harry’s forehead?

Lemmeno what you think. As I mention in the note, the scar-o-scope theory is detailed at length in Unlocking Harry Potter: Five Keys for the Serious Reader but here is an introduction to Ms. Rowling’s writing narrative misdirection, her signature artifice, into her story as a weapon of the good guys in VoldeWar II. She has done this with Voldemort at least twice; why not with the good guys?

The letter:
——————————————————————————–
Date: Jan 10, 2007 1:28 PM
Subject: the Gleam of Triumph
To: john@zossima.com

I just finished reading Looking For God in Harry Potter, the 2004 edition, and I was waiting eagerly for one explanation that never appeared. After the explanation of why Quirrell couldn’t touch Harry’s skin without burning, I was wondering why it was that after the rebirthing Voldemort *could* touch him without any apparent effect. The subject line of my email, of course, refers to Dumbledore’s gleam of triumph in his eyes after Harry relates this fact to him. Any theories, clues, directions to writings on this that I have missed?

Harry Fan in Ohio [Read more…]

Question: How does Fawkes “Apparate” Inside Hogwarts?

Thoughtful Question from a Hogwarts Professor season-ticket holder:

John,

Not sure where I could’ve asked this question, but I do have one. Have you done any writing on how Fawkes the Phoenix can “apparate” inside Hogwarts? What is it about Fawkes, and Dumbledore, that seem to transcend the “normal” rules for such things? I’m thinking here in reference to Dumbledore being able to become invisible without a cloak. Appreciate any insight.

Dn Kevin

I have a pretty involved answer about the special abilities of the Headmaster and his familiar but I hope someone has a clear and direct answer before I unload my suspicions and try way too hard to get at Dn Kevin’s question.

An official HogPro Best-Guess Prize will be emailed express to the Associate Hogwarts Professor who writes the most cogent response to this fascinating question.

The Five Keys & What Makes a Book “Great”

Eeyore (Pat) wrote after reading my post below on “Postmodernism, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Harry Potter” that:

I understand your point about her being post modern — it makes sense that she is a writer of her times — which is also why it’s always made sense to me that much of the imagery is Christian, because she IS a Christian. I think it would be very difficult for a writer to not let their beliefs or their era influence their writing.

So, how does this all fit in with the Christian message that so many of us see? I’ve thought since HBP that she is not necessarily intending the books to have a Christian, or even religious, point, but that it is there, nonetheless.

I’ll try to answer the question of how Harry Potter can be simultaneously postmodern and Christian by discussing what it means to be a “Great Book” and how the “five keys for the serious reader” work together, to include the keys of Postmodern themes and Traditional Symbolism. [Read more…]

Postmodern Story Telling: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Parts of this post were included in chapter 5 of Harry Potter’s Bookshelf: The Great Books Behind the Hogwarts Adventures (Berkeley, 2009) so it has been pulled down. Reader comments remain.