Deathly Hallows Discussion Point #22: Comparative Battle Scenes

Something I haven’t read in the many wonderful post at HogPro this past week is discussion of the battle scenes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, specifically, the Battle of Hogwarts and the Last Battle consequent to Harry’s death that ends in the wizard duels in the Great Hall. Ms. Rowling has said that her writing comes from the compost heap of all the all the things she has read. Her battle scenes seem a remarkable mix of Biblical, historical, and Inkling literature, which seems to support her point. Without neglecting the artistry with which she put together these stories, I thought I saw glimpses or reflections of the battles in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and That Hideous Strength, among others.

We all loved the Frodo wearing the ring hat-tip in the trio wearing the Locket; did anyone else see the Mouth of Sauron and Frodo’s mithril coat when Voldemort showed Harry’s body to his friends? When Voldemort attacked Harry’s body after Narcissa said he was dead, were you thinking of Hektor’s body being dragged around Priam’s towers? When Buckbeak soared into the final fray did you look up to the sky and say, “The Eagles!”?

Please post your thoughts here on the battle scenes in Deathly Hallows and any Biblical, Historical, and Literary references you think Ms. Rowling was making and why she would make these story parallels.

Deathly Hallows Discussion Point #23: “Smuggling the Gospel” Fallout

I hope you’ll overlook the unavoidable smugness of this post, which, I’m concerned, borders on the quality of an “I-Told-You-So” put-down. I could, after all, be providing space here for concentrated discussion of the debate between James and Severus hallowers and detractors…

When I finished Deathly Hallows and had put my three youngest children to bed last Sunday, I thought of Don Holmes. My septuagenarian buddy in Bellingham, WA, is a loving giant, well over 6 feet tall and not an unpleasant cell in his body. He graduated from Wheaton College ages ago, has the faith of an elder who has studied and practiced the Gospel message for as long, and reads everything he can get his hands on, especially since his retirement from a career as a Christian book distributor. Don even corresponded briefly with C. S. Lewis when he was a college student. Wonderful man and a better friend.

I thought of Don because of his first two responses to reading Hidden Key to Harry Potter in 2003. First, he called me on the phone (Bellingham is close to the Olympic Peninsula where I was living back then) to congratulate me on “getting it right.” He then wrote Richard Abanes, whose book, Harry Potter and the Bible: The Menace behind the Magick, Don had also read. Don asked, nigh on demanded, in light of my book’s demonstration of Ms. Rowling’s faith and the Christian message of Harry Potter, that Mr. Abanes offer a public apology to Ms. Rowling and to the Christian community at large for his mistake and calumny.

Mr. Abanes response was pretty unpleasant. When Don shared the exchange with me, I begged him to drop it. What surprised me was not the response he received, but Don’s surety that I was right. Ms. Rowling, in his mind, after reading the arguments that became Looking for God in Harry Potter, had to be a Christian artist. Even I thought there was a chance I was wrong. Nobody else, after all, was saying what I was saying. Christian defense of the books before Hidden Key had been restricted to saying they were “acceptable” reading for children (with strong reservations) or that they could be read as being Christian stories, if the reader chose to read them wearing that set of tinted glasses rather than another or without eye-wear (see Connie Neal’s The Gospel According to Harry Potter for this sort of reading relativism: “it’s all in how you look at it”).

After finishing Deathly Hallows, then, I thought of Don Holmes and the readers who wrote me to say “thank you” and others who emailed to say they had been won over from the Harry Hating camps by my literary arguments. The Gospel messages and allusions in the series finale were so transparent and edifying, surely, I thought, the Harry Haters must be having second thoughts, if not regrets about things they have said with such conviction the past ten years in print and from pulpit.

I haven’t seen any sign of this. Have you? Richard Abanes wrote me a note during P-Week about his new novel, Homeland Insecurity, but he hasn’t written anything I’ve seen since Deathly Hallows was published. He certainly hasn’t written Don Holmes to apologize for the unkind comments he made about Don’s intelligence and reading ability in 2003. And Brjit Kios? Lev Grossman? Where are the Harry is poison or secular fantasy proponents post Deathly Hallows? And, if they’re not admitting they were wrong, why aren’t they?

Again, please overlook the self-importance of this question. I hope if Deathly Hallows had turned out to be a really nasty piece of work that I would have eaten crow, publicly, in sack cloth and ashes. I’m not asking the same from the many people who have questioned my sanity or suggested I was projecting my beliefs shamelessly into the text. I’m just wondering if any of these people are reconsidering their position in light of Deathly Hallows and, if not, why not?

Deathly Hallows Discussion Point #24: The Controversial Points

As expected, the Harry Haters and more thoughtful critics found fault with Deathly Hallows, counter-cultural masterpiece and Christian fantasy magnus opus that it is. The sniping and complaints at some Catholic weBlogs friiends have sent me urls to has been especially disappointing, even mind-numbing.

What are the complaints about? How has Ms. Rowling failed this time to meet the standards of acceptable story-telling? Three points come immediately to mind. Please list and discuss the validity and reasoning of others you have seen this past week.

(1) Mrs. Weasley calls Bellatrix Lestrange a “BITCH.”

(2) Harry and other good guys use the Unforgiveable curses, “Imperio,””Crucio,” and “Avadra Kedavra.”

(3) Snape killed Dumbledore on the Astronomy Tower in what amounts to a “Mercy Killing.”

Travis Prinzi raised and responded to the second point at Sword of Gryffindor and Amy Wellborn noted on her weBlog, in answer to RadTrad horror about Albus’ euthanasia and Rowling’s implicit endorsement of the “culture of death” (!) that Aragon’s death was essentially the same agony and acceptance of mortality. But that was St. J.R.R.

Please share your thoughts on these three points, other points you have seen or heard raised as objections, valid and invalid, and interesting discussion of controversial elements or critical failings of the book. I confess to being something like aghast that people are raising the reasons they don’t like the book before saying loudly and clearly how grateful they are that Ms. Rowling wrote these books and ended them as she did. I cannot think of any artist of the 21st Century that has created a book that has “baptized the imagination” and “instructed (in the virtues so profoundly), while delighting” us to laughter and tears, against a rip-tide of pablum and soul-corrosive gunk in reading.

But let’s have some discussion here anyway about things folks didn’t like about Deathly Hallows, even if it is too much like the tourists in Rome who complain about the Michaelangelo painting being so high up on the ceiling and the nudity of the David

Deathly Hallows Discussion Point #25: John Granger in Toronto — and a DH Hat Tip?!

I am moving my whole famn damily to our new home in Fogelsville (wonderfully, an old jarhead friend from DLI has materialized to help; gotta love the magical friendships made in the Green Gun Club…) while starting a new job and trying to get to my two Deathly Hallows talks for Prophecy 2007 next Saturday. Yes, I’m a little distracted.

And did I mention that there is a lot more interest in my “Christian Content of Deathly Hallows” talk then there was before 21 July? The Prophecy programmers months ago made the Alchemical report card my “Featured Presentation” and put the “Christian talk” early in the morning, first thing Saturday. I expect there will be a much bigger crowd for that than the Rubedo update.

The talk subjects?

Harry’s Victory over Death: The Christian Content of “Deathly Hallows” – Presentation
John Granger
Saturday, August 4, 9:00 a.m.-9:50 a.m. – Osgoode Ballroom (East & West)

For several years, Christian objections to Harry Potter were “*the* Controversy.” John Granger helped slay that dragon. His Looking for God in Harry Potter, by approaching the books as literature and explaining how the books could only have been written by a Christian within a Christian literary tradition made the idea that the books were demonic hard to take seriously. Granger’s discussions of the themes, resurrection motifs, and specific images of Christ (the phoenix, unicorn, Philosopher’s Stone, white stag, griffin, etc.) Ms. Rowling uses has made it clear that she is what she says she is, namely, a Christian artist. She told an interviewer in 2000 that her faith would be evident to any reader after the seventh book. Join the entertaining authority on Rowling as a Christian author in his lively discussion of the *Deathly Hallows*’s Christian content and the similarities and differences between Rowling, Lewis, and Tolkien.

The Alchemical End-Game: The Rubedo in “Deathly Hallows”
John Granger
Saturday August 4th – 2:00 PM to 2:50 PM – Grand Ballroom West

Ms. Rowling has said that her study of alchemy set the magical parameters and internal logic of her Harry Potter novels. John Granger, author of Unlocking Harry Potter: Five Keys for the Serious Reader, is the leading authority on Literary Alchemy in Fandom. He has explained at how *Phoenix* and * Prince* were each a step in the alchemical work and featured images, themes, and the death of a character with a name specific to that stage. *Hallows*, consequently, is expected to be the final, red stage or Rubedo, complete with the Alchemical Wedding, the resolution of contraries, and perhaps even the death of the red character or characters (Rubeus, Rufus, and the Weasleys.). Granger’s talk on Alchemy at Nimbus 2003 was chosen “Best Presentation” of the 65 talks and panels in Orlando. His talk on the alchemical meaning of *Deathly Hallows* promises to be at least as good.

I am also moderating the Friday luncheon panel with many of my favorite University professor friends that are Potter Mavens. Given the quality of thinking in that group, I will be taking a lot of notes to share with you here…

My ten minutes of Warholian fame ended last weekend with the Deathly Hallows publication. It was gratifying, frankly, to see that Ms. Rowling delivered on the prediction she made in 2000 that our questions about her faith would be answered in the last book of the series. I have received a few notes from friends in the UK and the US congratulating me on having “gotten this right” so long ago and having insisted on it when the ideas of Ms. Rowling being a Christian writer and of her work being worthy of literary examination and exegesis were both considered silly. Stratford Caldecott’s brief note written immediately after reading Hallows was especially kind.

I’m afraid Toronto must be anti-climax after reading Hallows and receiving these notes. Those fans and readers at Prophecy 2007 who remember those days probably don’t want to recall their resistance to my thesis; those who don’t remember “The Controversy” think the alchemical, postmodern, and Christian keys have always been Fandom cannon (canon?) fodder and are immunized against a sense of history in these things. Which suits me fine. After Prophecy 2007 and updating my books, I expect to restrict my Harry Potter work to this weBlog and occasional talks at colleges.

But before this resignation of my public persona, I offer this bizarre possibility for your consideration. Could Ms. Rowling have read my books and appreciated my defense of her work way back when? Enough to have mentioned me by name in the text of Deathly Hallows?

On page 126 (Scholastic, Deathly Hallows), Ms. Rowling apparently changed Hermione’s middle name from “Jane” to “Jean.” “Jean,” of course, is French for “John” so we see Dumbledore giving the book that must be interpreted correctly at well below the surface meaning to “John Granger.

Or so a few people have written me. The truth is that it was a typo Cheryl Klein didn’t catch at Scholastic or that Ms. Rowling has a close woman friend named “Jean” (it is one of Mackenzie’s middle names according to the Lexicon) or that she didn’t like Dolores and Hermione sharing “Jane” as a middle name. Each of these possibilities is more credible than the andogynous reading of “John Granger,” I’m afraid; when I was reading the book aloud to my children, I didn’t make the connection. I thought it was a typo for “Jane,” the first (and only) mistake I caught in the book. I didn’t even understand the first email I received congratulating me on the Hat-Tip.

But other people thought the meaning of the name-change was a no-brainer. To these readers it meant, “Thank you, John.”

The following is a combination of two letters sent to me last week:

———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: Jul 23, 2007 8:00 PM
Subject: Jean Granger?
To: John Granger < >

Birthname: Hermione Jean Granger. In 2004, Jo told us Hermione’s middle name was Jane (WBD); however Rowling changed it to ‘Jean’ in Book 7, possibly so that Hermione and Dolores Umbridge would not share the same middle name. ‘Jean’ is also one of the middle names of Rowling’s daughter Mackenzie.

kylie: Thanks for writing such wonderful books, Ms Rowling :). Just one question: What are Ron, Hermione and Ginny’s middle names? Thank you 🙂
JK Rowling replies -> My pleasure:) Middle names: Ginny is Molly, of course, Hermione ‘Jane’ and Ron, poor boy, is Bilius.

From Deathly Hallows (Scholastic pages 126-127):

“‘To Miss Hermione Jean Granger, I leave my copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, in the hope that she will find it entertaining and instructive.”

Dear John,
I’m thinking Ms. Rowling is tipping her hat in your direction! ‘Jean’, after all is the French for “John” (the woman was a French major, right?), and Dumbledore’s dedication is a pointer to Spencer’s note about literature frequently quoted by CSL that it should “instruct while delighting.” Could it be that the original “Jane” in 2004 after Hidden Key was a pointer, too, but, because it was not picked up, she made it more explicit in Deathly Hallows?

In a book with the meaning and ending you’ve written about for more than five years, I think it’s possible she’s telling the world how smart you are the only way she can short of a certified letter. Look at it this way…

“The Tales” reminds me of Dickens (The Tale of Two Cities, a connection you explored at length in HogPro last week), The Bard (Shakespeare, the literary alchemist), and Beedle (alternate Beadle) might be another Dicken’s reference: “a parish constable; in the Scottish church one who attends the minister during divine service . A famous fictional constabular beadle is Mr Bumble from Charles Dickens’ classic Oliver Twist.”

She has the Greybeard WiseMan of the series give a book to once “Jane” now “Jean Granger,” the French version of “John Granger.” The book’s title points to Alchemy and Christianity in literature and the Granger character has to figure out its hidden meaning to solve the mystery that drives the action in Deathly Hallows.

And, again, there’s Dumbledore’s expressed purpose in the bequest, that Granger find it “entertaining and instructive”! Rowling must be refering to the traditional purpose of literature – echoing what Sydney and Lewis have said before her, namely, that Great Books “instruct while delighting,” something mentioned in almost everything you have written about Rowling.

It obviously could be a coincidence, as Rowling’s daughter’s middle name is “Jean” or if the Lexicon knows Rowling says it was a mistake to give Dolores and Hermione the same middle name, but it is a meaningful coincidence just the same – since the Dumbledore dedication reflects a major tenet of English literature that you have discussed in each of your books.

So, congratulations! You been revealed in the last book of the series as “spot-on” about all the Five Keys you mentioned in Unlocking Harry Potter and as the first and best interpreter of Rowling’s books within the context of traditional Christian literature. And best of all, the author herself may have acknowledged you within the text.

Three Cheers! How rare is it to have been right and to be acknowledged for it in print?

The worst thing that can happen in my being the one to publish this possibility for public consideration, is of course, that Ms. Rowling will be asked about the possibility, she will deny it, and I will be known ever after as “that arrogant git who ‘looked for god in Harry Potter’ and only found his own name.” If it is my name hidden there in the text, though, I take it as a hat tip to all the readers who have championed Ms. Rowling’s edifying message through thick and thin and from long ago. My name only worked because she didn’t give Hermione the last name “Byatt,” “Bloom,” “Grossman,” or the other critics who locked onto Ms. Rowling’s message so perceptively and persuasively…

As you’d expect, I am asked (by reporters who may or may not have read the books…) as often as not if I am related to Hermione. I usually say I am a Squibb cousin. Maybe I should say now that Hermione and I are not related – but Hermione was named after me. What do you think? Typo or Hat-Tip?

Cast your ballots:

The change from Jane to Jean was:

(a) to distinguish the very similar Dolores and Hermione so readers wouldn’t confuse them;
(b) to honor the lady “Jean” that is a friend of Ms. Rowling;
(c) a typo that the Scholastic folks missed on their continuity checks; or
(d) a tip of the hat to “John Granger” and the HogPro All-Pros who take Harry seriously.

Votes will be counted and the final tally posted on my Hotel Room door in Toronto.

HogPro’s Deathly Hallows 20 Discussion Points: An Introduction

If you haven’t read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, get outta here! The next twenty questions and the posts here forever more will assume you have read the book — and there will be no spoiler warnings.

I will be at Barnes and today to discuss these points and their threads but will be checking back in here regularly to put up your comments. Have at it, friends! This is what we’ve been waiting two years to discuss! Tell your friends to join us here for the best forum-look at Deathly Hallows anywhere (Well, you gotta love the all-comers smorgasbord at Sword of Gryffindor today, too!).

The Twenty Deathly Hallows Discussion Points are:

1. The Covers
2. The Opening Quotations from Aeschylus and Penn
3. The Christian Ending
4. Stoppered Death
5. Narrative Misdirection
6. The Hero’s Journey
7. The Rubedo
8. Postmodern Themes
9. Traditional Symbolism
10. Beheadings
11. Unrequited Love
12. Horcrux Hunting
13. Ron’s Departure and Return
14. Transformations
15. Nazi Echoes
16. The Name Taboo
17. Phallic Phantasy?
18. Fairy Tales
19. The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore
20. Disappointed?

Point, click, wax loquacious!