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?


  1. Yes I think they are. But the Horcrux was the one to play with his mind. So taking that into account, I loved the Ron we saw in DH. Still has the emotional range of a teaspoon at times but it’s getting better. 😀

  2. John Madill says

    When Ron meets Harry they establish a bond and throughout the first 2 books Ron is fearless and quite heroic in his supporting role. Fearlessness seems to be a Weasley trait, demonstrated also by the return of Percy. Ron’s role is reduced in the later books as Harry leans more on Hermines help. My guess is that Ron is feeling left out and as he shares with Harry the “Act don’t think” trait which is often common in competitive male teenagers it is difficult for him to contribute when Hermines cleverness are what is needed to aid Harry so he sulks and broods on all his shortcomings. As he gains success at Quidditch out from Harry’s shadow his confidence returns. Couple this with the realization that he and Hermine are in love he is able to overcome his feelings of inadequacy demonstrated by the horcrux spewing out all the negative things he has been thinking which are enhanced by the evil locket every time he wears it. By the end of HBP you can see Ron is returning to the person he was when we first meet him. Like Neville we have always suspected that Ron is a talented wizard who lacked confidence but we have only seen glimpses of this potential until he steps up and saves Harry from drowning and his brilliant solution to destroying the horcruxes and just as he was so important in PS wininng the wizard’s chess he is able to make a major contribution to the succes of the joint mission.

    Ron has always been a favourite of mine but I thought that he was a goner in ‘Hallows’ as he had become more or a comic sidekick. It wouldn’t really have been fair to his noble character to have killeded him off. I was happy to see him contribute and I don’t think it was lip service when he talked about the elves. The death of Dobby, his sacrifice galvinized the idea of liberating the elves for Ron I think.

    What is doubly frustrating is that the question of the Elves freedoms etc. is left hanging as is the state of the Wizarding world.

  3. I have to admit it was very unecessary and boring. What a waist of, how many pages, of sulking? Boring!!!!!!!!!

  4. It was funny, when I was reading about the locket being such a burden and saying all of those nastly things to tear their friendship apart, I immediatly thought of the one ring to rule them all, and Frodo and Sam. It was so similar, I laughed out loud.

  5. Jayne1955 says

    It’s more than a little possible that it will be one of the first things cut when they make the film. Ron and Harry may argue, but I think it’s unnecessary for him to leave.

    I laughed about the similarities between the ring and the locket, too. I laughed a lot.

    What I wish had been addressed was Ron’s idea to con the goblin out of the sword. What did that goblin think when the sword disappeared on him later to go back to the hat? He’s going to think he got screwed out of it by the trio somehow, in all likelihood. I don’t know about elves, but wizard/goblin relations are not going to improve anytime soon, in my opinion

  6. Arabella Figg says

    This book was Ron’s shining moment, one of the most important parts of the series. And I loved it!

    All his life, Ron has felt inconsequential to others, due to his older brothers who are the family “stars,” his poverty, his dad’s job and his inability to find his place in his family and world. When he goes to Hogwarts he gets in the “right” house, but immediately becomes second banana to his best friend Harry (Harry is chosen for Quidditch) and then Hermione (that twinkling star in the intellectual firmament). All this before the climactic PS stone quest in the end of PS.

    Ron has always desired personal glory and, while I’m convinced he took on the quest to support Harry, his disappointment rings true. His leaving was a betrayal, but understandable. By that time I don’t think he was quite right in his mind.

    The locket Horcrux blatantly exposed inferiorities, anxieties and jealousies he’s suffered with and brooded on for years. We have to credit him for keeping them to himself. True, he’s had small triumphs over the years but that he thinks his mother prefers Harry to be her son show how eaten up he’s been. Add boredom and the weight of the Ring, er locket and you have quite the breeding ground for what happened.

    He showed himself a “true heir of Gryffindor” by courageously returning not knowing the reception he’d get and by pulling the sword (and Harry) from the pond. But he truly showed it by facing his deepest fears and insecurities in front of Harry (the source of many of them) and makes one of Dumbledore’s famous choices. He acknowledges, but refuses to let these fears rule him anymore. A brave Gryffindor for sure and one headed in the right direction.

    I agree, John, about this being the Negrido section of the book. When Ron (body=passion) is gone, Harry and Hermione struggle in the depths of dark, icy winter, aimless, barely speaking to each other. Mind and spirit are not enough to complete this quest. It’s only when Ron returns that things get moving again.

    And, while I didn’t see it coming, hats off to Hermione for clouting Ron! Go, girl! It’s been wonderful to see her begin unwinding from the tight, controlled, Hermione-the-living-brain to having emotional meltdowns–crying, rage, joy. And the touching scene in the graveyard in Godric’s Hollow showed a tenderness heretofore unseen.

    (Neville, another insecure, quashed person also showed himself a true heir of Gryffindor. Bravo!)

    Although Ron wavered a bit after returning, wanting the Elder Wand, he really grew up in this book. From his immature act of busting up Harry and Ginny’s kiss (Ginny, why didn’t you hit the clod with your famous Bat-Bogey Hex?) and silly accusations to Harry about Ginny to Ron as fearless savior and leader, wow.

    Time for the kitties’ din-din…

  7. rosesandthorns says

    I’ve always really liked Ron, and I was so glad he rescued the sword and not Harry, and that he killed the locket-Voldemort-soul-piece. He has always been the youngest son (and clearly, before Ginny was born, his mom was disappointed that she hadn’t had a daughter yet) and has always sought for his own place. I also loved it when he was reluctant later to voice his own part in the destruction of the locket, and he said something to the effect of “you made it sound a lot more cooler than it was,” showing a true humility and a realization that doing something good isn’t always easy.

    I love the changes in Ron. Like Harry, he is now truly a man.
    Imperfect, impetuous, easily influenced in wrong decisions, but a good friend nevertheless. He nearly immediately regrets his decision to leave, remember, but is caught and so delayed, and is only able to return once one of the two says his name and activates the hidden ability of the deluminator – Dumbledore was always a good judge of character, after all -and returns.

    Ron, Hermione, Harry … all imperfect, but all clearly BFF’s (Best Friends Forever) who are incomplete without each other in many ways.

  8. says

    ‘Arabella Figg’:
    > And, while I didn’t see it coming, hats off to Hermione for clouting
    > Ron! Go, girl!

    Sounds like a possible instance of domestic violence to me! I don’t think that I’d give a “hats off” to Ron for clouting Hermione after she’d apologized for being wrong. OTOH, neither case would be something which, in isolation, warrants any criminal charges. But clouting someone you care for when you’re angry at them isn’t something which should be encouraged. YMMV.

  9. Arabella Figg says

    Oops, accidentally hit a key and off it goes…

    Dear, in no way do I condone hitting or domestic violence. Having been a continual punching bag for an agressive older sister, I deplore abuse.

    I was making the point that Hermione-the-living-brain-trust, in this book, was finally becoming “a real live girl,” freely expressing her emotions. She was angry at Ron for his desertion that had caused such misery and let fly. When I first read it I was a bit stunned, but then found it rather humorous and I believe Rowling meant it that way. The “quarreling couple” indeed.

    I hope you can see my comment in its context, applauding Hermione for her emotional growth as I was applauding Ron for his. Growth can be a bit ragged around the edges.

    No hitting, anyone, or Dudders will sit on you….

  10. says

    Thank you, Arabella Figg, for your comments. I think I understand what you mean about Hermione’s development — others have felt the same way. Personally, she has always seemed a “real live girl”, on a maturing trajectory as much as Ron, Harry, Neville, etc. This includes the emotional part, which she displays often in the series: it doesn’t first manifest itself when she is “beating the you-know out of Ron.”

    As for the violence/abuse, most people do look upon her violence as, if not acceptable, at least understandable and more easily forgiven than, say, would Ron had set a flock of birds on her! Why this is the case is probably a topic for another list — and not one with easy answers!

    On a second note, John G. writes:
    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);

    I originally agreed with you, John, that this was a form of what is commonly called the “soft racism of low expectations”, so prevalent on campuses and in society today. But I think that is at least partially in error.

    In Harry Potter’s world, as Hagrid at one time makes clear, house elves are not humans, but a different kind entirely. Although we cringe at the word “enslavement”, they are by their nature bound to service in a way that is different in kind from any sort of human service to a boss or master. They are sentient, rational, and individual beings (as are goblins and trolls), but they are not human beings (as are wizards and muggles).

    Additionally and very much to the point, since house elves are by nature bound to wizards, wizards have a responsibility to and for them. I use the plural, but this appears to me to be mainly a personal or familial responsibility, rather than a collective responsibility. Ron felt this responsibility for the Hogwarts elves, and wanted to protect them. “Patronizing” should not be a pejorative: wizards — to an extent — are to be the house elves’ patronus.

    What happened in the story? The house elves were not evacuated, and they therefore defended Hogwarts and (in the case of Kreacher) Harry (although Kreacher’s motivation seemed to also include his prior master Regulus Black more than Harry). It remains an open question what extent this was due to their enslavement vs. to what extent it was voluntary. My own guess would be that both factors would have been at play in different house elves to differing degrees.

  11. Arabella Figg says

    You have some very thoughtful ideas on house elves, in particular that the wizards have a personal and collective responsiblity as their benevolent Patronus(es). Ron’s leadership reaches its peak when he says “we should tell them to get out…We can’t order them to die for us—”

    Rather than racist or condescending, I saw this as remarkable. Ron is demonstrating how all elf-masters should be treating their faithful servants, whose service is an inextricable part of their nature. What an example to the wizarding world!

    I do believe the Hogwarts elves were offered evacuation and, instead, chose to fight. That the Hogwarts elves made a free choice in their destiny is highly significant.

    As for Hermione, yes, she did develop through the books, but I feel her development really took off in DH. DH was quite the crucible for Harry, Ron and Hermione.

    Oh, dear, Flitquick is chasing little Flako, naughty boy…

  12. I am new to this site, and to blogs in general, but I have been wanting to talk about the book with someone. Most of my friends haven’t read any of the books, or only the first two, so it will be years before I can have an intelligent discussion with them. Thanks for the opportunity to join in here.

    Ron’s departure was one of the most disturbing moments in the book for me. I agree that I had already seen the locket as a LOTR ring, so I should have seen it coming. I too was feeling a need for them to “get on with it”. We were a third of the way through the book and they still had not found a single Horicrux! I thought JKR had set up the reality that Ron had a choice that both Harry and Herimone didn’t. Harry was undesirable number one, and Hermione was muggle-born. Ron’s commitment to this quest was purely one of conscious and love. Ron’s friendship had been rocky in Goblet of Fire, and he had over reacted Ginny’s kiss earlier in the book, but his actually leaving surprised me. I saw it as Peter’s denial of Christ. He was not a Judas, Pettigrew had already accomplished that, but it was a betrayal. Like Peter, when Ron came back he was ready to both fight hard and listen. His saving Harry, pulling the Sward of Gryfindor out of the lake, and destroying the locket accomplished a sort of redemption for his character. Before the release of DH I had feared he would get killed on in the last book. Doesn’t the best friend usually die in hero books?

  13. Hi everyone and welcome, Rhonda. I’m fairly new too and like this blog for the same reasons. I like your thoughts on Ron, particularly regarding the fact that he had the most to lose and that his participation came from his commitment to his friends.

    I really didn’t enjoy Ron’s absence and really appreciated the redemptive quality of his reappearance. I think somewhere else we discuss redemption, but I will say here that it was sometimes lacking or weak in this narrative. But that made Ron’s redemption and return that much more satisfying. It showed not only his best self, but the person he was becoming.

    On the subject of elves, statement about the nature of house elves is correct from things that are said in the books. But I am still a little bit disturbed by that direction of thinking. Even though house elves are fictitious and a creation of JKR’s imagination, I find it troubling that anyone would create a character whose nature is best suited to slavery. I have wondered if that was truly the case or if the house elves had simply become habituated and had no other economic alternatives in the wizarding world. Either scenario is disturbing and I wish it had been explained and resolved in this last book.

  14. About Ron and the House Elves.

    The release of the House Elves from enslavement will not happen overnight. This fact became apparent when Dobby was shunned by the other house elves after being set free. Even if the wizards changed the laws and released all house elves by decree, it would be the responsibility of their former masters to provide for them in some way. At least for a while. This is not patronizing; it is recognition of responsibility. The wizarding community has caused the problem, and so it is their responsibility to fix it.

    I think Ron is well on his way, away from racism and to respect, at the end of DH. Remember how far he has come. At first he thinks Hermione’s idea of SPEW is “mental.” It isn’t until he really starts to get to know Dobby that he starts to see House Elves as beings with feelings. Then the radical transformation of Kreacher though simple kindness shows Ron that not only do these beings have complex emotions, but they have at least some free will. I am reminded that the Bible says that it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. Ron sees that forced servitude will make house elves obey, but the level of service is up to them, which is how they demonstrate free will. Once shown respect and kindness Kreacher serves out of love not force. Then the free elf, Dobby dies, and Ron, like all of us, is horrified. Now he not only sees the elves as having complex feeling and free will, but also a soul, which can be taken away. They are now being on a par with himself.

    Ron’s reaction at the end of DH, when he wants to send the House Elves away, closely parallels the teachers at Hogwarts sending all the students away. Although elves are mature beings, they are in harms way, not through their own choosing, but by the forced servitude of the students and teachers at Hogwarts. It is Ron’s responsibility to protect them. Since wizards have enslaved the house elves then wizards must take the responsibility to protect them.

    Ultimately the house elves, lead by Kreacher, show us what they are made of: courageous, loyal, magical and free to defend that which is right. This description does not sound like a being “breed” to be a slave, but one created in the image of God.

  15. Nancy wrote:
    “Even though house elves are fictitious and a creation of JKR’s imagination, I find it troubling that anyone would create a character whose nature is best suited to slavery.”

    The way it seems to me, the house elves are creatures whose nature is best suited to SERVICE, not slavery. They serve best, become most fully themselves, when they are loved and appreciated by their families. Kreacher and Dobby show how an unloved house elf can sabotage the plans and disrupt the daily life, of an unappreciative master. Even “bound” elves are not lacking in will. It may be that for a house elf to be given clothes is more analogous to having one’s name burnt out of the family tapestry than to losing a job.

  16. rowena centeno says

    hi everyone,

    i don’t know if anyone has noticed this, or if it had been commented on before. i believe Ron’s leaving and later returning is part and parcel of the maturing process. sometime we just have to be stupid before we are wise. i also believe that JKR (as always) had given us a clue on this. In HBP, Ron received a watch for his 17th birthday. Upon examining it he says that he will mature next year. HUH!? wasn’t he suppose to be mature precisely on his 17th birthday? Anyway, JKR gave us another of her öne-sentence-paragraph, so let us pay attention. On their way to Luna’s house, the trio stood on a hill and were looking at the direction of the Burrows. After a while “Ron turned his back on the Burrow” to do what needed to be done at the time. I think this is JRK’s exclamation point on the matter of Ron’s development as a man all his own. hurray for Ron!!

  17. carlillandcarbolic says

    hmm. I have to disagree with how closely the mind body and spirit analysis fits, and if I try to apply it, I end up with Ron as the spirit, and Harry as the body.
    For one thing, don’t you think that Ron’s trial foreshadows that of Harry to come? Whereas Harry struggles to believe in Dumbledore, Ron at times struggles to believe in Harry, but, in the end he’s Harry’s man through and through. This is seen elsewhere too (compare Harry in OotP with Ron in GoF). This is Harry’s story, told from his point of view, so we don’t concentrate on the inner thoughts of Ron Weasley, but if you are thinking about the trio dynamic, Ron is the gel that keeps the trio together- his absence is like a depression where the mind and body struggle on, without any joy or hope.

  18. Poor Ron…he seems to struggle with his purpose throughout the series until his actions literally separate him from the very place he is meant to be…sort of a “getting out of the forest to see the trees” moment, if you will.

    I’m not sure if his birthorder has anything to do with his personality…but I like to see him as multi-placed: the YOUNGEST son, but immediately OLDER to Ginny (who is also multi-placed as the YOUNGEST child and ONLY daughter), which seems to give her an independence of spirit Ron doesn’t have until he is ALONE (an ONLY) with his grief over leaving Harry and Hermione.

    I also believe Ron had to leave in order to begin to understand the enormous emotional weight Harry was carrying re: Ginny. HP was expected to stay focused on destroying LV and not communicate with Ginny while Ron had the privilege of being on mission with Hermione at his side. Maybe Ron thought he was protecting his sister at The Burrow…acting the big brother and all that without asking Ginny what HER intentions were…and his actions did cause Harry to steel his heart against further emotional entanglement at that moment. But I also believe that Ron was transferring some of his own fears of unrequited love on his best friend in the event Hermione did not show anything more than a “comrade-in-arms” emotion towards him. (JKR ultimately demonstrates Ron’s fears when he is about to destroy the Locket Horcrux in DH) Fortunately for Ron, he has opportunity for a second chance after searching his heart and soul for direction.

    We see a new, motivated Ron when he returns…a sacrificial Ron willing to humble self and commit his allegience anew to his friends no matter what “punishment” they might mete out on him. I think Ron’s desertion and reunion process symbolizes God’s grace when we detour away from His plan for our lives…what a wonderful picture of reconciliation!

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