Running Grave: Deathly Hallows Echoes

It’s something of a Publication Week tradition here at HogwartsProfessor to put up posts for Serious Strikers to write up their discoveries as they find them, an alocal place for specific topics we explore here. The seven I am posting for Running Grave are:

‘Gaffes’ heads the list because it is the subject that generates the most reader responses. I include the Deathly Hallows parallels at #2 because the Parallel Series Idea — the theory that Rowling has been writing the Strike-Ellacott novels in playful echo of their apposite numbers in the Harry Potter series — has become such a focus of predictions and conversations here and elsewhere. (See the ‘Parallel Series Idea’ Pillar Post for the collection of evidence for the first six books.)

So, did Polworth die like Dobby did in Deathly Hallows as I predicted he would? Let us know the Strike-Potter Book Seven links you see in the comment boxes below!


  1. M Evan Willis says

    Chapter 7 description of the UHC complex “strange round tower standing alone on the horizon like a giant chess piece”, later described in chapter 24 as “a tall, circular tower that looked like the rook of a chess-playing giant” parallels the description of Lovegood’s house as a chess rook.

    The UHC line “Do you admit the possibility” is reminiscent of Xeno Lovegood’s method of reasoning. The appearance of Bijou in the “shocking pink dress” at the baptism in ch. 1 also parallels X. Lovegood’s bright yellow clothing at the Wedding in Hallows.

    The emphasis on the effects of hunger when avoiding falling to an evil influence (Robin in the complex) parallels the emphasis of the greater effects of the Locket Horcrux on the hungry trio.

    The Franks case, involving twins, parallels the Seven Potters. The event in this side-case in which a snake is unexpectedly dropped in the mailbox of the client parallels Nagini’s appearance in Godric’s Hollow.

    The centrality of the name “Rowena” in both.

  2. I’m sure everyone will have spotted the parallel of Robin’s final days at the cult with Harry’s final hours in the Battle of Hogwarts. Just as Harry had to make a choice to sacrifice himself for others, Robin had the opportunity to leave with Barkley. She was strengthened by thoughts of her colleagues’ support. Then she walked into a ritual/meeting led by an evil murderer, was “killed” (drowned in the pool), and woke up in a different place. Her time in the box can be equated to being dead, or at the crossroads of death, just like Harry in the King’s Cross chapter. The results of their decision to sacrifice themselves for others and face death is that the people that they cared about, as well as many other members of large community, were rescued to become safe and free.
    I believe that JKR intends the reader to understand that the aspects she chooses to echo are the essential points of the story. So, the most interesting question is, what does she mean by reprising these particular parts of the story? My hot take is that true heroism requires free will, choosing to undertake suffering or an ordeal for the sake of others, and that making this choice requires preparation and support. But, I am excited to spend my happy hours and stolen moments pondering these questions as I reread and consider the excellent commentaries published here in the months to come. Thanks so much to John and all those who support this forum!

  3. Robin’s near-death-baptism in the pool is quite similar to Harry’s in the frozen lake (too bad Ron wasn’t there to pull Robin out, or that she didn’t pull a sharp weapon from the bottom of the pool).

  4. Deathly hallows was the HP with the most overt references to Christianity. TRG also considered religion and Christianity the most explicitly of the strike novels.

    Can someone help me with a Dobby Charlotte parallel? It seems like both deaths give the hero great decision of mind in the middle of the novel but obviously Dobby is wonderful and Charlotte is not…

  5. After reading these comments, I’ve started my second read to notice some of them, particularly the reference to the rook. I sped through the first read.

    The Dylan Thomas poem the book is named for refers to time or death following you and eventually taking you. In HP7, there is the story of the deathly Hallows and Death taking each of the brothers.

  6. * Jacob’s description is reminiscent of the piece of Voldemort’s soul in Harry’s head, as it’s portrayed in the King’s Cross limbo in DH. He is the helpless, suffering, rotten fruit of true evil. Both Harry and Robin struggle with feelings of revulsion and mercy when encountering the horcrux/Jacob, who dies just before Good triumphs over Evil, and in his death helps bring Evil down.

    * Strike’s mental post-mortem conversation with Charlotte, while very different from Harry and Dumbledore’s, achieves the same sense of closure and resolution which allows Strike and Harry to pull themselves out of their misery and loss, and arms them with courage and hope before going on to achieve their goals (kill voldemort/conquer Robin’s heart).

  7. Kathleen already mentioned Robin’s choice not to leave with Barclay as a Deathly Hallows echo. That triggered a faint memory for me (faint enough that I had to look up the details, but I knew there was something to it…). There’s a moment in Deathly Hallows after Harry has decided he must sacrifice himself. He’s roving around under the invisibility cloak, watching his friends carry away bodies and comfort the wounded. At one point, he sees Ginny very closeby, but chooses not to reveal himself or talk to her, because he’s already made the choice to be separated from her. That reminded me a lot of Robin choosing not to go with Barclay, or even speak to him: seeing a friend so close, but choosing to turn down the comfort of connecting with them—instead turning away and firming up your resolve for what must be done.

  8. @MS, I had very much the same thought about Voldemort and Jacob—so much the same that I really think it might be intentional on JKR’s part (and I don’t think she makes deliberate HP callbacks very often). Pretty sure both books use very similar wording, like: “It wasn’t like any child [Harry/Robin] had ever seen.”

    If deliberate (or even if not) this provokes some complex feelings. Is it acceptable to feel that sense of revulsion over an ill child who’s been so badly neglected that he looks grotesque? What if you say your revulsion is for the child’s mistreatment, and not the child himself? Does that make the revulsion appropriate (and is it 100% true)?

    I completely get that you’re talking in symbolic, literary terms when you say “rotten fruit of true evil” (and also about Voldemort, who deserves it). But of course a real-life Jacob would be innocent, even if his conception resulted from an evil system. Can we totally square that with our sense of revulsion?

    And just to be totally clear, I think we’re struggling with this because it’s deliberately written that way, not because either of us is especially wrong to have those thoughts.

  9. Thanks @SK, I think you make a really good point. The whole question of nature vs. nurture seems like a major theme in the Strike series, and it could be argued that every single one of the “villains” of the series may not have committed their crimes if they had a better childhood, but they are always juxtaposed with Strike himself, who, in spite and arguably because of his unstable and traumatic upbringing, is a force of justice and order. In TRG there’s the UHC and Chapman farm, a whole field of bad seeds, and I think that Jacob is one symbolic representation of the result of this whole factory of pain and abuse. The other one is Abigail. They both evoke pity, both traumatised and abused, but I think what JKR is saying here, and in general, is that violence begets both victims and more violence. Like in The Ickabog.
    All the literary stuff aside, I think that as humans we have evolutionary mechanisms that make us feel sick or repelled by anyone and anything that might be an agent of infection (actual microbial infection). It’s all mostly unconscious though, and based in the “lower” and more ancient parts of the brain, and there’s always a conflict between those feelings and more rational and philosophical calculations in the “higher brain”. Robin demonstrates compassion in spite of her entirely natural revulsion, while Jiang (Jacob’s father) is entirely repelled and estranged towards Jacob.

    * Just spotted another DH parallel on rereading: Strike’s conversation with Littlejohn in c. 75 is a lot like Dumbledore’s with Snape, when Snape swears loyalty to Dumbledore on condition that he protects Lily, with the major difference that Littlejohn isn’t as loyal (or as clever) as Snape and only after money, and hence is used and then tossed by Strike.

  10. @MS: Ha—Littlejohn actually reminded me of Wormtail: the sniveling traitor who insists you won’t be sorry if you forgive him. (Of course that would be a POA parallel. And maybe “traitor” isn’t the right word, since Littlejohn worked for Patterson first… but you know what I mean: two-faced interloper, etc. etc.)

    Nothing to add to your analysis on Jacob: I think that’s beautifully put.

  11. I think that you’ve found the answer, MS. The horrible suffering fragment of Voldemort that Harry sees in his Kings Cross vision is the result of Voldamort’s choices to murder, torture, create horcruxes, etc. I think that baby-like entity is all that remains of the original innocence that Tom Riddle was born with. Poor suffering Jacob is the result of all the terrible choices made by the pedophiles, cult leaders, and church members. If Louise hadn’t been forced to have unprotected sex, if she or her baby had access to medical care, Jacob would have existed as he did.

  12. I wonder if there is any significance to the peacock references? Becca wears a peacock blue dress and Johnathan Wave’s study is twice described as peacock blue. In DH, there are multiple references to the peacocks at Malfoy Manor. I think they are albino. Any thoughts on the peacock imagery?

  13. Wow my first time here, and I’m really envious of all your analytical powers, so please forgive my tiny piece, but I think in Silkworm or maybe Lethal White, Strike describes the dress that Charlotte wore to Timothy Cormoran Anstis’s Christening as a Peacock Blue figure hugging wrap around affair that was his favourite, and yet we are told time and again that Charlotte generally wore monochrome clothes.

  14. Ed Shardlow says

    Excellent points everyone, @SK particularly well illustrated, especially that point about Ginny and Barclay.

    To extend that metaphor, Robin is sneaking around Hogwarts out of hours trying to solve a mystery. She finds clues, overhears conversations and sees things she shouldn’t see. Rowena is her invisibility cloak. And we readers are constantly worried that she will slip or be seen through. There are dorms, classrooms, a great hall, magic, ghosts, a forbidden forest, herbology, potions, astronomy, Dark Arts, charms and divination and transfiguration. There are authority figures whose motives and allegiances are unclear. There are four colourful founders, and one white one, with their own disturbing origins, representing 5 aspects of the institution, into whose groups new arrivals get allocated! There’s a monster lurking under the water.

    It’s not specific to Deathly Hallows but it’s full of HP parallels.

    Likewise, I couldn’t help thinking of Mad Eye Jiang. And that led me to locking people in wooden chests.

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