Saturday, October 5, 2013

Harry Potter again at last! (Oh my goodness, really, I wrote that!?!)

I LOVE these memes!
Poor Harry is getting neglected. I suppose it's best we spend the busy autumn months being slow with book two, as so many conversations and long discussions aren't likely to come up until later in the series, but still, I feel neglectful. My brain has been all in a haze thanks to my husband's long hours, my daughter's enthusiasm, and everything that needs to be done before winter sets in. 

Jenna's recent post, thankfully, brought something to my attention though that I think would be so interesting to discuss. I think we've mentioned Rowling's successful use of place, regarding especially the Hogwart's castle. In this book we see the strength of place growing as we see both Harry and Riddle's relationship to the school. Both boys obviously see Hogwarts as home. And there is a sort of magic to home, both in the series and in reality. Being rooted to a place is powerful and leaves a mark on both the person and the place. It seems too that Dumbledore is very much at home in Hogwarts. It is his place as well. Rowling shows it best when she gives us a glimpse of the school's previous headmaster: Armando Dippet. Dippet is kind, and I'm sure very competent, but he doesn't infuse the school with his presence the way Dumbledore does. The sense is that Dumbledore's emotional connection to the school is similar to Harry's and to Riddle's. It's his place, and because it is his: emotionally as well as vocationally, the change in official status does nothing to damage his magical link to the school and it's students. It's a rich detail, I think, and one that gives a layer of tangible, natural magic to the series. And I hadn't noticed it until Jenna pointed it out.

I wondered what Dumbledore meant by asking Harry if there was anything Harry'd like to tell him.  If Dumbledore does know everything that goes on in Hogwarts--which would be a natural position to assume as children looking up to their wise, knowledgeable mentor--then there is something unsettling in his allowance for things to run their course. 

Christie points out that there's frustration in the role of Dumbledore so far. Rowling writes him almost omniscient and yet he watches and waits and does nothing as his students are assaulted. If I were on the board of governors, I'd be likely to want him replaced by someone with less power but more motivation. Someone who does more than watch and wait. It's a character flaw that's never really dealt with satisfactorily in the series. In part, I think because kid's books need to give the children space to save the world, and in part because Rowling's created a too-powerful character, who knows too much and is too capable to be anything but passive. But because he's so passive, he stands to lose much of his goodness.

Next week, be prepared! We're reading through darker waters, my potions are photograph-able (and load-able!) and I'll be back on a proper writing schedule! I promise.


  1. Don't drink too much, M! It looks like you lost part of your first paragraph there. . .

    Also also, were you aware that mom is currently reading War and Peace? You should call her up so you can squee together about all the joy and sadness and Rostovy goodness and Pierre changing his life sixty different times. We should make it a CONFERENCE CALL.

    We went out to dinner and it turned into mom & I haranguing everyone else at the table to READ WAR AND PEACE RIGHT NOW OMGZ. As is right and just.

    1. I FORGOT I'd promised to read War and Peace this year. I don't know how I'm going to fit a book that long into my fall calendar, but thanks for the reminder. Some things simply must be done.

    2. Laura~ It's all sorts of carelessness on my part - a leftover from last weeks blog, but I wasn't drinking, I was supporting a small, enthusiastic body on my lap while typing and lost tract trying to keep her from lapping up my coffee (Luba on coffee is a nightmare in the making!!)

      I was not aware! But I'll see them soon enough, and the phone store gave me back my repaired phone with NO charge on the battery, so the conference call will have to wait.

      Jenna: Maybe make NaNoWr month NaWAR&PEACE month???? ;) That could be fun..but then, it looks like we'll be into book 3 by then, and I don't know if you'll be able to spare the time ;)

    3. War and Peace Six Months!

      Jenna, don't feel pressured or anything, but SERIOUSLY you will love War and Peace SO. MUCH. SO MUCH.

      M., I hope you guys have a great time!

  2. The meme is adorable, but it's the Pinterest things that pop up from you on Facebook that just destroy me. I don't hit Like on them all because I'm such a lazy Pinterester, but I don't just like them, I love them. :D

    The point about Dumbledore's connection to Hogwarts is lovely. I think his omniscience is a real and powerful thing on an ordinary level, and he's obviously connected enough to have realized somehow when Harry was being attacked by Voldemort and Quirrell at the end of the last book... but I don't think he knows how or where to find Slytherin's monster. He might know what it is; surely he thought to question Moaning Myrtle. He, however, is apparently not a SPOILER and therefore for once Harry has an advantage over him.

    In part, I think because kid's books need to give the children space to save the world, and in part because Rowling's created a too-powerful character, who knows too much and is too capable to be anything but passive. But because he's so passive, he stands to lose much of his goodness.

    Yeah, I see it more predominantly as a plot weakness than as a Dumbledore weakness. Dumbledore is brilliant and the most powerful wizard of his age... but he can't fix too many problems or Harry would have nothing to do. Hmm. SPOILERY thoughts come to mind... I think we're going to have to revisit some of these points near the end of book 7. ;)

    1. Ooh, right! I forget everyone can see those!!! They're so funny, aren't they! I can't resist..I should be able to..but I just can't.

      We will definitely have to revisit it in book 7!!! I feel like after this whole series is done, we're going to have to post a few overall reflections, just to round everything up you know..because SPOILERS ruin everything.

  3. I think it's clear, both from this book and from later books, that Dumbledore's omniscience doesn't extend quite as far as knowing who opened the Chamber this time. He knows who's behind it (as he says "the questions is not who, but how"), but not who is going around strangling roosters and painting graffiti, and he doesn't suspect the role of the SPOILER, in part because he'd never suspect that anyone would use a BIGGER SPOILER in such a way.

    Basically, Dumbledore knows a lot about what's going on, but by no means everything. The fact that he never suspected SPOILER in the third book or, especially, MASSIVE SPIKEY SPOILER in the fourth prove that.

    1. But WHY doesn't he..sometimes, you have to admit, the only reason he doesn't is because it would ruin the story for the kiddos ;)