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23 July 2007

Spoilery Pottery Initial Thoughts

I have such a complicated relationship with Harry.

I approach him as a reader, a fan, a critic, a children's literature professional and a writer.

I spent the weekend with my peeps, curled up on sofas under doonas, munching on pumpkin cupcakes and bagels and listening to Snaz read the book aloud. It was awesome. We laughed, we cried, we complained at the huge tracts of exposition. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, as I always have whenever I've read a HP book.

There are a lot of criticisms I could make, but I'm going to skip over most of them. You can overlook a lot of faults for a book that inspires so much hype, joy, love and enthusiasm.

BUT.

There's just this one thing.

The muggles.

I really, really, really wanted there to be a Muggle in the final battle. I wanted, just ONCE in the entire 7 part series, for there to be a Muggle who was a Good Guy. Not someone nasty or stupid or ineffectual. Someone GOOD. I really thought that we might see the New Improved Dudley again.

And after the series railed for so long against the Slytherins and Death Eaters for their attitudes towards halfbloods and mudbloods and purebloods - what happened with the Good Guys in the end? All the wizards married wizards and had little pureblood wizard babies. No mixed marriages. No 'squibs'. It just totally validated everything the bad guys were gunning for.

Even the single interracial relationship (Lupin and Tonks) wasn't permitted to exist in the Happily Ever After. And tell me Dobby wasn't totally the black guy who dies in the first half of an action movie.

Finally, I just need to share the cover of Melbourne's right-wing tabloid propaganda machine Sunday Herald Sun, on the day when most of the English-speaking world were reading Harry Potter:
For a moment I wasn't sure if I was seeing the Herald Sun or the Daily Prophet. Then I saw that peculiar use of the word Wizard! and wondered if there was a Harry Potter musical.

7 comments:

audrey said...

I must admit, I hadn't thought of having muggles in the final battle. To be honest, I'm not sure what they might do. Any attempt to have them attack wizards as we humans seem to attack might just come across as being very slapstick.

I did however feel a bit disappointed that JK didn't leave even a couple of overage Slytherins behind to fight on the side of good. Kind of negates the whole argument that Slytherins aren't always evil.

Also, where was Luna in the epilogue? Not even a passing mention! ('friends'!)

Overall though, I completely loved it and am utterly depressed that the past ten years of one of my life's obsessions have drawn to a close. Tear.

I also loved 'Albus Severus'. It made me cry and cry.

lili said...

I'm sure they could have found something to do... helping Trelawney lob crystal balls?

(which was pretty slapstick, btw. along with the magic snapping desks and Professor Sprout and a number of other elements. i'm sure the muggles wouldn't have felt out of place)

Susannah said...

Good point, Lilli. I've been feeling a bit uneasy about the way that Hermione's parents were sidelined - that is to say, non existent - throughout the entire series. Did we ever lay eyes on them? Hermione seemed to spend most of her holidays at the Burrow. Did SHE ever lay eyes on them?

Love is the big answer - parental love is all important if you're Lilli Potter, if you're Mrs Weasley, even in you're Narcissa Malfoy. But if you are a muggle parent - off to Australia with you.

But, criticisms to one side: absolutely, totally and in all other ways throughly enjoyable.

Amanda said...

I think having Muggles in the final battle would seem very out of place. Who would they be? Where would they have come from? Surely they'd spend most of their time going 'Holy fuck these people can do magic!' and then getting killed.

As for the Slytherins all being bad - don't forget Snape, Slughorn and even Draco. Might have been nice for another student or two to stick around to fight, though.


And as for 'all the wizards married wizards' - well, no. Ginny and Hermione married wizards. Draco's wife might have been a Muggle (unlikely) and we just don't know about anyone else. I think a lot of people are reading so much more into the epilogue than was actually there - eg "OMG everyone = babyfactories!!!!" - when she just doesn't mention that aspect of anyone's life. Only Neville's career is mentioned, but that doesn't mean nobody else has one.

Anyway. It seems she's considering publishing her reams of backstory so maybe the answers will all be there. (http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/19935372/)

Penni said...

Yeah, good point - we did really need to see some value in Muggle-kind. My prediction was that Harry would die (releasing the bit of the soul) and Hermione would use 'Muggle magic' (mouth to mouth) to bring him back - but I was wrong. It seemed that Dudley might come back into it...I also thought that Petunia knew something she wasn't telling - it always seemed to be the implication - so I was a bit disappointed about the absence of the Dursleys from most of the novel. Didn't some of the Slytherins come back? The dude in his emerald pyjamas? But yes, I agree with that too.
JK said she gave Mr Weasley a 'reprieve' but she couldn't in all conscience have killed another father, could she? And it would have made Ron's motivation too much like Harry's, Harry wouldn't have been special enough anymore (well apart from the scar, Voldemort lives in his brain because he's a horcrux thing).

Anyway. It was completely flawed, but the best things are, and I loved every moment of it anyway.

Naomi said...

You weren't the only ones with the feeling things were left unanswered. J K Rowling had a chat on Bloomsbury.com where she was asked over 120,000
questions! She obviously couldn't answer them all, but she did answer a great number of them.

Here's a transcript courtesy of The-Leaky-Cauldron.org:
http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/2007/7/30/j-k-rowling-web-chat-transcript

Here are some of the 'unanswereds' from the gap in time in Deathly Hallows:

* Harry returned to Hogwarts for his final year and took his NEWTs.
* Ron joined George at Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes, which became an enormous money-spinner.
* After a few years as a celebrated player for the Holyhead Harpies, Ginny retired to have her family and to become the Senior Quidditch correspondent at the Daily Prophet.
* Luna ended up marrying (rather later than Harry and company) a fellow naturalist and grandson of the great Newt Scamander named Rolf.
* When Dudley was attacked by the Dementors, he saw himself for the first time as he really was. This was an extremely painful, but ultimately a salutory lesson and began the transformation in him.
* Remus was killed by Dolohov and Tonks by Bellatrix.
* The absence of Snape's portrait in the Headmaster's office was deliberate. Snape had effectively abandoned his post before dying, so he had not merited inclusion in these august circles. Rowling would like to think that Harry would be instrumental in ensuring that Snape’s portrait would appear there in due course.
* George would never get over losing Fred. He names his first child and son Fred.
* Lockhart will never recover.
* Teddy Lupin isn't a werewolf, but rather he is Metamorphmagus like his mother.
* Harry doesn't give away the Marauder's Map, but James sneaks it out of his father’s desk one day.
* Umbridge was arrested, interrogated and imprisoned for crimes against Muggleborns.
* Dumbledore's boggart is the corpse of his sister.
* Hermione brought her parents home right away and undid the memory damage.

Naomi said...

However- some of these answers raised MORE questions for me... like WHY wasn't Tonks and LUpins son a werewolf? Seems a copout that he's a more acceptable type of wizard.

And it wasn't a case of pure bloods marrying pure bloods. Ron marries Hermione, a Muggle. So they have Mudblood kids. Ginny marries Harry, a Mudblood- so what are their kids? How does one refer to a half Mudblood?

I personally hated the '19 years later'. Lame, and raised too many questions, the answers to which seemed far too white picket and lowest-common-denominator-pleasing for my liking. But yay for the book, the series, and the new generation of readers it produced. I still love it, despite my criticisms :)