Order of the Phoenix: How Rowling Thinks

Ms. Melissa Anelli has released a portion of her interviews with Ms. Rowling that were not included in Harry, A History at the Amazon Blog for her best-selling book. This “vault segment” is about Order of the Phoenix and Ms. Rowling’s thoughts about the fifth novel in the series. I found her comments about Harry being alone but comforted by a group in the battle at the Department of Mysteries interesting as well as her insistence that you have to write the story as it comes to you rather than the one you imagine people want to hear.

It also struck me how bizarre it would be for me now to sit in on a conversation like this one with the author. I have spent the last few years digging through the “compost pile” of works and genres that most influenced the seven Harry Potter adventures and pulling out the keys and specific books that I have found help readers understand the layered artistry of these novels. Reading Ms. Anelli’s questions and comments that never dip beneath the surface of her experience as a reader — and how animated, in contrast, the author is in discussing what she was doing — I wonder if I could act as the kind of foil or tabula rasa Ms. Anelli does to make this exchange work. Frankly, I doubt it.

Good thing, then, that it’s so unlikely that I will ever meet the author!

Two questions: (1) What comments of Ms. Rowling in this interview fragment struck you as important? Why?

(2) What would you have asked Ms. Rowling about Order of the Phoenix? Was your experience reading Phoenix like Ms. Anelli’s?


  1. Fascinating. I must admit that after reading your post, John, and then going over to read the Anelli/Rowling interview snippet, I couldn’t help but chuckle over all the many places that I think you would have “dug deeper” (much deeper!!) than Ms. Anelli did in this interview, or at least dug in a completely different way. Several things jumped out at me as potential stepping-off-points for interesting conversation a la John Granger, but especially these lines:

    “I think overall in the series it’s the darkest book, because of what Harry’s going through internally. Because you always see the world through Harry’s eyes even though it’s not a first-person narrative. His mood, his internal climate affects everything.”

    Nigredo book and narrative misdirection anyone?!

    I particularly found the phrase “internal climate” thought-provoking.

    I initially struggled with Phoenix: not so much that I didn’t like it, or that I couldn’t bear the ending, as much as I struggled with the overall dark tone and with what felt like a more sprawling (less tidy?) narrative that felt a bit ragged and perhaps in need of further editing, though I always trusted Rowling’s ultimate story-telling sense of direction. Upon second and subsequent readings, I came to like the book much more — in fact, I think some of the funnier moments in the series come here, set off by the surrounding darkness and so therefore a bit more precious. And reading your commentary on the book’s place in the overall alchemical scaffolding of the series helped me to understand as necessary and even appreciate its darker tone.

  2. Lots of interesting stuff here.

    First, the fact that she felt the ending of Order was not as satisfying, whether because of the cost-benefit ratio not working out on the benefit side, or because there’s no neat resolution, or because Harry had so much support.

    I personally did find the ending satisfying. Extremely so – the moment when Harry “expels” Voldemort by thinking of dying and finding Sirius was profoundly moving, and it also told us where the series was headed, and the moment in the story where Dumbledore “confessses” to Harry about why he didn’t level with him about the prophecy (lying all the while, of course) was hugely satisfying, especially in retrospect. Plotwise, there may not have been a lot of resolution, but there was a lot of emotional resonance.

    Also, the fact that she says she writes what she wants to write, not being affected by popularity/unpopularity.

    I remember how much time we spent, prior to Hallows obsessing about whether Harry would survive or not. I think bookies took bets on it. I for one was convinced he wouldn’t die because it would be so hugely unpopular. I think it would be very hard to completely shut out the voices of fandom.

    Also the survivor’s guilt and the being alone, and these being the things she wanted to portray in Order

    The being alone, yes. Alone and alienated, nicely done. Not so much the survivor’s guilt, problem being, Cedric appeared to have been introduced for the exclusive purpose of dying and so underscoring Voldy’s sinister return, that he never seemed to have too much substance as a character. So any survivor guilt was perforce, artificial. But I also remember Harry’s angst and anger being put down to adolescent hormones, and some people saying they just didn’t like hiim that much in that book. So I’m not sure that JKR successfully conveyed aloneness and guilt that effectively.

    And saying there is no big emotional change in Harry between six and seven.

    Well, yes, but only by a very narrow margin. Because the main emotional change in books 6 and 7 happened right at the end of 6 when Dumbledore took his swan dive off the Astronomy Tower. That’s when Harry changed, became much less impulsive and confiding and happy-go-lucky, and much more deliberate and secretive and grim. And deadly serious.

    All of which goes to show that an author may not be the best judge of the impact of her books. But then, no one ever tried to argue that one.

  3. I would have asked why she didn’t write a memorial service for Sirius.

    Especially after having read all seven books, I still wonder why she avoided doing that.

    She had a few words said over Dobby’s grave, and Hagrid blubbered over Aragog, but Harry could not have his friends say their last words about his godfather.


    I’m still miffed about that insult to this character’s memory.

    It could have been mentioned in passing in a narrative paragraph suggesting that this had been done, but no she didn’t. It was as if because there wasn’t a body to be recovered that the ceremony wasn’t necessary.

    That to me was the gravest error in that installment.


  4. It’s always interesting to read what the author thinks of her own works. But it’s not necessary to being able to understand the book. I think most of us, especially John, were able to garner out of the text what Jo was trying to convey in this interview. And I think that’s the mark of a good writer. We don’t need her to tell us about the point of the book because she wrote it well.

    It’s, of course, not perfect. There’s things we might like, as with Athena’s point that Sirius’ death does tend to get glossed over, although I don’t think it did, not in Harry’s mind at least, but that’s a point to argue based on the text.

    I think why OOTP was so jarring for many, is that it is, as John puts so well, the nigredo of the series & involves the breaking down & stripping away of everything extraneous to Harry & reducing him to a burnt cinder. Certainly not a pleasant thing. And certainly something that our society doesn’t like to do, a vigorous self-examination & breaking down of ourselves. We love being therapeutic nowadays but I’m not sure that works out to the same thing that Jo is getting at.

    Anyway, OOTP turned out to be one of my favorite books in the series. It stands 2nd after DH.

  5. BTW, Rocker, who’s your picture of this time? I can’t tell. Thanks.

    Oh, nice comments, too. 🙂

  6. I bought Melissa’s book about a month ago and read it. I enjoyed it, mainly because, as it turns out, she and I ended up on some of the same forums around the same time. So a lot of the things she talks about in fandom are things I was part of or at least knew about (I avoided the fanfic sites 98% of the time, but remember the big scandal.) So anyway, my complaint about Melissa has always been that she is a reporter, but she doesn’t ask JKR those probing questions that a reporter should ask. I find it so annoying to read her interviews.

    Yes, I think, John, that you would have taken that particular conversation in a much more interesting direction, and I think that Jo would have gone there. She’s read all those books we’ve discussed (thanks to your pointing them out, and sometimes thanks to the connections being so clear) and I’d like to think that, given the right question, she would give some insights that we have yet to see.

    I always liked Order of the Phoenix, from the first time that I read it. It was full of the frustration and the anger that I thought Harry should have expressed even before he was 15. I liked the forced relationship he developed with Snape, which gave us our first clues that Snape wasn’t just the token mean teacher that we all remember from sometime in our past, and that just maybe he was on the good side afterall. The whole idea of Occlumency and Legilimency fascintated me, and I was glad to see that those lessons weren’t wasted (in DH).

    Order of the Phoenix stripped away the shining armor that Harry had put on James and Sirius, making them human – not very nice but human. It was the book that clearly pointed towards the direction JKR was heading (which made some readers angry: “If it’s going to be love that saves all, I’m not going to like it.” And some of them didn’t like DH either – but they really missed the point of the story, I think.) And it was in Order of the Phoenix that JKR showed how important it is for friends to hold fast to the love they have for each other, even when the other person isn’t being very loveable. Aside from its alchemical place, it was this book that said very definitely that this series was not just for children, not just another adventure story, which I had always thought after the 3rd book.

    Linda, I agree that there should have been some sort of memorial for Sirius – even if it was a conversation between Harry and the other members of the Order, remembering who he was, what his life stood for, something. Even in war, people take the time to do that. And you are right – JKR did that for every other character who was even remotely important to Harry; Cedric was rembered formally in front of the school by Dumbledore, in Deathly Hallows they searched for Moody’s body and Harry later removed his eye from Umbridge’s door and found a final resting place that was appropriate, Dumbledore had a huge formal funeral, as well as the others you mentioned . . .

    We don’t know if there was any memorial service for Harry’s parents, but then we learn that there was a memorial in the town square to honor them. So, yes, why didn’t Melissa ask about that omission of any sort of memorial to mark Sirius’s passing?

    Maybe the conversation that Dumbledore had with Harry after the battle was supposed to take the place of a memorial for Sirius, but Harry was too angry for that to bring about any sort of closure over Sirius’s death. (And from his feelings at the end of OP and the beginning of HBP, it’s clear that particular approach didn’t work very well.) JKR does sometimes say that her feelings come out through Harry, and maybe that’s the reason she wrote some things the way she did – her own unresolved grief over her mother’s death. I know it took me years to come to terms with the death of my father when I was almost eleven. And my reactions aren’t always the same as people who haven’t had the experience of the early death of a parent.

    However, the one thing that struck me was when JKR talks about Harry at the end of the 7th book, that he is the lone warrior because it’s that kind of story. That is Harry’s intent, but he is anything but alone. It takes the help of nearly everyone he knows to get him to the final showdown with Voldemort – Ron and Hermione play their part in destroying two of the Horcruxes, his friends show up to help drive the dementors away on his way to the Forest, Harry’s parents and Sirius and Lupin walk with him, Dumbledore talks to him, Narcissa, for her own reasons, helps Harry, Hagrid physically supports him once again, wonderful Neville destroys the last Horcrux. And of course, Snape was there all along. (I can’t even go down that path – soooo many questions that should have been asked about why there couldn’t be any sort of reconcilliation while Snape was still alive. . . )

    What JKR seemed to be saying was that the ending was following the typical hero tale, but it really didn’t:

    JKR: Yeah, then everything falls away absolutely and then Harry is lone warrior, which I think we expect in the tradition of that literature, don’t we? We expect that there comes a point when everyone else has to fall away.

    I wish that Melissa had asked her about that. The ending of OP was more powerful for the way Harry felt alone, but was always supported, and it’s nice to see that was intentional. The ending of DH was powerful because it showed that none of us have to do whatever it is alone. Harry intended to go alone, but he didn’t. It’s OK and it’s right to rely on our friends and family. So, why does JKR seem to back away from acknowledging the best part of her stories? Or maybe she isn’t, but whenever I read one of the interviews with Melissa, I feel like JKR lets herself be swept along with the fans – with the superficial and popular view points.

    In all of Melissa’s opportunities to interview JKR, she gets JKR to open the door, but she doesn’t ask the questions that allow all of us to walk through the door to see what really is in the next room, the room that must be part of JKR’s vision and understanding of the complete structure of the story. Just once, I’d like to see someone ask her a question that gets JKR to take that next, and more interesting, place.


  7. Linda: Always great to hear from you and I loved the latest LOON entry about the man writing Historical Romance and his struggle to get published. Just for conversations sake, I’d like to hear what you think of the idea that Ms. Rowling didn’t fail to provide the funeral service for Sirius but left it out deliberately.

    This has to be considered a possibility if only because every other major character who dies (with the exception of Fred) does get a send-off. What does the absence of remarks achieve in the story? For starters, “lack of closure,” i.e., angst, confusion, an unsatisfiable opening into emotional pain and experience. That would be appropriate for the nigredo finish, which is meant to be unsettling, even shattering for the reader identifying with the hero.

    A good friend shared with me yesterday the reasons Ms. Rowling has given for Harry’s not seeing the Thestrals at the close of Goblet. The reasons struck us both as ad hoc excuses to cover the obvious glitch; a more compelling response, I felt, would have been she didn’t want to introduce them there or hadn’t thought of them yet or she blew it in the mad rush to finish Goblet, the last of the “annual productions.” But that would have meant offering a look behind the curtain in Oz.

    I don’t want in my answering your concern about the absence of a funeral service for Sirius to act like a fandom knee jerk apologist. Ms. Rowling makes mistakes, Homer nods, etc. You’re a serious enough reader (and writer), though, that I have to think you’ve considered the possibility that the author here deliberately left this out for the effect its absence would make, an effect in keeping with the others of that book. I’d like to read why you reject that possibility.

    Beth, RRocker, and Eeyore: excellent comments, thank you. Let me take this conversation in a different direction, if you don’t mind.

    I guess my thought about the Rowling/Anelli interviews is similar to my response above to Linda. On the one hand, I don’t want to gloss over an unsatisfying and superficial discussion and say it was what it wasn’t. As Pat points out, when Rowling says that an ending is what we’d expect in “the tradition of that literature” she’s speaking of conformity to a specific stream or literary genre in the history of English letters — and we expect a follow-up. Which tradition? Hero’s Journey? Alchemical drama? Everyman allegory? Gothic romance/horror? We don’t get that follow-up and it is disappointing.

    Having said that, again to echo my comments to Linda, in acknowledgment of the care Ms. Rowling takes in manipulating the media (a la Hermione in Phoenix), shouldn’t we assume that her choice of Ms. Anelli, not an A or even O-Level literature student, as foil in such a discussion was deliberate? She knows there will be no hard ball questions and that there will be no follow-up on literary points beyond a young fan’s experience of the surface story and moral meaning. Ms. Rowling must suspect, too, from her experience in the Prince interview of 2005 that what she does say will eventually make its way to readers uncut (as it has) because the interviewer feels unequal to the journalistic task of packaging these comments for her readers.

    If Ms. Rowling’s choice was deliberate — and given her friendship with Gordon and Sarah Brown I want to assume she is as savvy by this point about media relations as a seasoned pol — what would be her reasoning?

    My first thought is that she wants to restrict her comments to the surface and moral layers of the story. She gets that with Melissa Anelli because that is the depth of the pool Ms. Anelli swims in safely (i.e., without going over her head). Allegory and mythic/ananagoical meaning, even “political metaphor” Ms. Rowling has admitted to, are not going to come up here and, assuming Ms. Rowling is acting deliberately, that is more than okay, that is exactly what discussion she wants to be off limits here.

    Then, looking over the interview, I see that she wants to be sure her readers understand there was artistry involved in the writing, both in terms of inspiration and deliberate choices she had to make to achieve specific effects. This is an invitation to take her seriously as a writer that does not involve her spelling out things best discovered by the serious reader lest by detailing her intentions she shut down the reader-author conversation in and about the text.

    And, last, we have the reference(s) to tradition, genre, and her decisions as a writer to conform to the givens of literary styles and forms or for her to be a subversive to achieve a certain effect. Again, with the interviewer chosen, Ms. Rowling knows she can throw down this marker as an invitation to serious readers not present to explore those ideas and historical genres (and that readers will eventually see her remarks, unedited) — and that Ms. Anelli will not press her for details that would spoil the serious reader’s engagement with her books and other books.

    I guess my questions for you all are:

    (1) is it best to assume the effect a writer produces in a given work via either artistry or absence is intentional and critique it as a failure/success in this light?

    (2) Or should we assume the writer is stumbling about and is fairly criticized about how the story might have been written better?

    (3) Or is that a false dilemma?

    (4) And are these questions as relevant for interviews and the choices an author makes about who to speak with?

    I think charity and respect require we begin with the assumption that what a writer writes is deliberate and the results are intentional — and that this extends to comments and choices made before and during interviews. Coming from this perspective, that Ms. Rowling is using Ms. Anelli as a messenger to more thoughtful readers, what message is she sending?

  8. John, we might have to start labeling you a conspiracy theorist, always seeing these deeper meaning in everything. 😉

    That being said, you may be on to something. I haven’t really seen too many in depth interviews of Jo since DH with anybody of any significance. Just mainly blurbs or interviews with Anelli. Nothing has really gone in depth into her comments on the Christian meanings in her works nor even really about the political stuff, like the Dumbledore revelation, except on a surface, superficial level.

    I think part of the reason why Jo has still not discussed a lot of these things in depth is that this would spoil some of the effect she was going for. If she’s thinking along the lines of Lewis, of slipping things past [watchful] dragons & bringing up issues but in an unfamiliar way in order to get people to consider them, wouldn’t the effect & purpose of this be diluted, even destroyed, by discussing anything about the books except for their most superficial, surface meanings?

    And the fact that her biggest piece of work since the 7 HP books is a book of fairy tales? Well, talk about subversive & smuggling meanings by people’s filters. That seems to indicate that this line of reasoning is still driving her to a great extent, so why would she shift gears now in her interviews? I think, to an extent, she is being masterful in how she does her interviews, giving just enough to satisfy those who only think at the surface level & leaving enticing clues for anyone who wants to dig deeper. Now, whether she’s doing this consciously or subconsciously can be debated with probably no clear answer but that this is happening seems to be apparent.

    I always find Jo’s interviews to be a bit unsatisfactory, perhaps because like a lot of people on this site, I’m looking for something a bit more than just little tidbits of canon that the Pottercasters always squee over. 🙂

    Will have to tackle your other questions later, John, when I’ve had a bit more caffeine.

  9. In answer to your questions John

    1) Some of it is intentional, some of it is serendipitious (Snape!) and some of it is sheer stumbling about on her way to something not quite achieved.

    2) See #1

    3) Can’t be telling an author how the story can be better written. Have to show it, by doing it yourself. And can’t be writing the same book as another author – you have to write your own book. Then the critics come along and compare yours with the author’s and decide who did it better.

    4) Don’t quite understand the question, but I can tell you that if I was the author I would not invite interviews with people who would make me visit the problem places in the books, the parts I’d had trouble with and hoped that I’d covered over convincingly but still cringe everytime I re-read them, seeing the holes and the gaps and the inconsistencies. I also wouldn’t invite interviews with people who followed my reasoning to its inevitable conclusion and saw and pointed out the paradoxes or unwelcome conclusions. I’d pick people who loved my books, who had real insight into them, and whose insights were congenial to me. I would not want to be challenged because for me the challenge was in the writing, not in analyzing it afterwards. Thats for the critics.

    Need to confess here that I do do a fair amount of writing, although not fiction, and although I’m never happy to listen to criticism, it’s a rare day that I please myself with the final product. As you may imagine, I do a lot of revisions.

    revgeorge, it’s the Washington Capitals’ wildchild, Ovechkin, taking to the ice in his skivvies.

  10. “I’d pick people who loved my books, who had real insight into them, and whose insights were congenial to me. I would not want to be challenged because for me the challenge was in the writing, not in analyzing it afterwards. That’s for the critics.”

    Okay, that’s what you would do. Do you think this is what Ms. Rowling is doing? I think you’re suggesting she just chose a reader she likes who won’t embarrass her. I guess that’s pretty close to what I was saying only a lot more succinct.

  11. John I have no idea what JKR is doing in her choice of interviewers. I don’t follow her interviews, don’t know how many she gives and to whom. I’m guessing – possibly incorrectly – that an author who has produced a work of fiction – not a scientific theory or a piece of evidence based research – would not relish being challenged about her work. Amongst other reasons, at this point there is no possible remedy to the criticism. The work’s been written. And possibly, to the author, there is not much point to listening to criticism.

    Analysis, of course, is something else: digging into the work and unearthing layers and layers of meaning, as you do. But that is surely better done in writing – as you do – than in an interview with the author. Because good analysis – as you do – needs to reflected over, just like good writing, before one can respond. I suppose one could have a dialogue with the author over her work, but I don’t think that would be very comfortable for the author – it’s all so very personal, and very hard to be objective about.

    I am reminded of one of Agatha Christie’s characters, Mrs. Ariadne Oliver – a self-caricature – who bemoaned the letters she constantly got from her fans correcting various mistakes she made over her Finnish detective, and devoutly wished she’d picked a nationality no one knew anything about.

    Anyways, my point is that literary analysis is not something an author can easily undertake on her or his own works.

  12. Point taken.

    I wrote in Deathly Hallows Lectures that, if given the opportunity to interview Ms. Rowling, I would ask only to see her library, maybe have a conversation about books on her shelf, and then play some competitive Mine Sweeper. What else could I do? Give her a literary alchemy exam?

    I don’t have any gotcha questions I’m dying to ask. I’m confident this must be taken the wrong way, but I suspect the only way a John/Jo interview would make any sense (be worth reading) would be if she asked me questions about my books, i.e., she sharing her thoughts about where I missed the boat, hit a bulls eye, or touched a nerve. My books were written to generate reflection and deeper mining by serious readers; she’s the first among equals in that crowd and certainly could take the conversation in directions no one else could. Me asking her questions wouldn’t be nearly as interesting.

    As I have no reason to believe either that Ms. Rowling knows of this particuliar, peculiar Potter Parasite or that she doesn’t think she is the sole arbiter of meaning on her books, I won’t hold my breath for that interview/conversation to happen. But seeing that my asking her questions as Ms. Anelli did would not work makes it a lot easier to read these interviews and be grateful for the occasional ‘line of sight’ advice she gives in them.

  13. Going back to your original post, the one question I would have asked about Order to its creator would be this:

    What was going through your head as you were writing Dumbledore’s “confession” at the end of the book? Were you thinking “Here’s Dumbledore trying to open up and explain himself”? Or were you thinking that “There he goes again, letting someone think he’s being open and honest while all the while he’s keeping a few cards up his sleeve.”?

    The reason why I would have asked that question is because over time, Dumbledore’s duplicitious nature has become a source of fascination and enjoyment to me. But as sometimes happens, I wonder how much of what I’m seeing is my own reader’s projection into the character. I am mainly, mostly, overall overwhelmingly convinced of the truth of my interpretation. But there are a few nanoseconds of doubt. Of course I’d never tell Travis this, but I wonder if JKR meant Dumbledore to be more like Travis sees him: the benevolent archetypal Wise Man, using the minimum possible deception, rather than how I see him: the Trickster with the feet of clay who leads the troops to victory but without a single moment of honesty, either with himself or the one he loves the best.

  14. Red Rocker wrote, “Of course I’d never tell Travis this, but I wonder if JKR meant Dumbledore to be more like Travis sees him: the benevolent archetypal Wise Man, using the minimum possible deception, rather than how I see him: the Trickster with the feet of clay who leads the troops to victory but without a single moment of honesty, either with himself or the one he loves the best.”

    Uh, Rocker, you know Travis reads this site a lot, right? 😉

    Anyway, I think it would be interesting to see something of which you propose, that is, what Jo intended to do with DD & what actually came out in the story. But what I think will happen, if Jo ever gets around to writing her Scottish book, is that it will end up being less a perusal of her thought process & more of a hodge podge of trivia facts about the characters.

  15. Pat,

    Thank you for your comments. I’m glad to hear when others share my thoughts on things.


    You wrote:

    “Linda: (snip) Just for conversations sake, I’d like to hear what you think of the idea that Ms. Rowling didn’t fail to provide the funeral service for Sirius but left it out deliberately.”

    My thoughts are that she left it out deliberately because of pacing issues.


    She didn’t want to prolong her already mammoth book by having a long denouement after the climax of the book. Spending time gathering members of the Order together at Hogwarts to do a memorial service for Sirius might be a bit suspicious and it would slow the end of the book. Instead, she left it out.

    I expected her to have some form of service for him at the start of HBP and the lack of it, I think was so for dramatic flow. She wanted to start anew in HBP with Harry leaving the Dursleys and going on an adventure with Dumbledore. Having a ceremony at the Burrow would have halted the forward narrative flow.

    That’s what I think.

    I think it was purely due to choices of pacing and narrative flow and not that she wanted to deny Harry “a sense of closure.”

    I say this because of the choices I’ve made in my own novel that after a long battle scene that I needed to pick up the pace and move the plot forward. I spent some time with the aftermath of a bloody battle the previous night and all the corpses being gathered for a funeral ceremony later, but I chose not to show the funeral itself.

    I wanted to move the plot forward and get it out of the dire gloom, but I did mention that there would be a funeral and that the leader would have to come up with some kind of statement to lift the morale of his troops after such devastating losses.

    As for the Thestral “problem” at the end of GoF. I agree with you that Jo’s answer doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny. I think that after Cedric’s death that Harry should have been able to see Thestrals.

    Introducing a dragon/lizard-like horse creature with leathery wings at the end of Book 4 would have changed the tone of the end of Book 4. That wasn’t how she wanted to leave the readers, so she didn’t.

    Screw literary analysis on the question of why Harry didn’t see Thestrals in GoF. IMHO, Jo didn’t want to introduce those magical creatures at that point in time and none of her editors knew what she was keeping up her sleeve. Anything said by Jo to explain why Harry couldn’t see them in GoF is just a rationalization of her authorial choices.


  16. Agree totally with Linda: thestrals would not have struck the right note at the end of Goblet, they belong in Order with the introduction of the fey Ms. Lynch – oops, I meant Ms. Lovegood, of course. That’s the right note. And agree too that JKR’s attempts to explain are just a rationalization of her choices. I wish she could be free sometimes to say: “I didn’t think of that till later; it was a work in progress; just sit back and enjoy the development.”

    And revgeorge, I was just playing with you; with Travis, actuallly, but he doesn’t seem to have taken the bait. Busy on other matters, I dare say.

  17. Arabella Figg says

    On survivor guilt and Sirius’ memorial:

    I think we saw survivor guilt in Harry’s uncomfortable relationship with Cho. She was mourning and wanted to talk about Cedric. Harry passionately (in two senses of the term) wanted to avoid the subject. I don’t think this was entirely because of his infatution with Cho, although Harry probably thought so.

    Re Sirius. I think Harry’s anguish and questioning of Nearly Headless Nick are the memorial. The discussion with Nick showed the seamless passage from one place to another, and how a person’s view of death eased or put a barrier to it. Also, Harry’s stormy session with Dumbledore is, in it’s own way, a memorial to Sirius. Sirius’ death was a centerpiece of the book’s end and Harry’s grief and trauma surrounding it were very profound. Although I, too, expected some kind of memorial, I now think that it was there, but not as we expected. So I’m on the “Jo left it out deliberately” team.

  18. Speaking of a memorial for SB, we have to remember that he was always an outsider: first from his family, then as a Marauder at Hogwarts, then as the Prisoner of Azkaban, and finally as an escapee from Azkaban. I don’t know when his reputation was officially “rehabilitated”: by the time the wizarding world knew that they’d been duped by Voldemort, there was too much going to pause for a memorial to a man who’d never been seen as a member of the community.

    But all that is post-facto rationalization. It would not have fit SB’s place in the books to have a formal memorial. He was mourned by the only person who loved him, and mourned very privately, as fitted his place in the wizarding world.

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