Thursday, July 12, 2007,9:03 PM
Harry Potter Speculations
I went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix today (my one movie of the season). While it didn't follow the book exactly, I thought it was a good version nonetheless. We got to see Professor Umbridge in her full make you squirm in your seat portrayal of evil. She is to me the most loathsome and scary "bad guy" in the whole series because unlike fantastical dark lords, she is utterly real. Even with all her tacky pink clothing, decorative plates with cat pictures, and sugary teas she represents to me the worst sorts of evil present in educational philosophies, child development theories, and unthinking "the government is always right" patriotism. Her character makes me seriously physically uncomfortable. I think its because I know too many people that resemble her...

But we are just about a week away from the long awaited conclusion to the series - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Now some idiots planned a thing called the Midwest Emergent Gathering that same weekend, so I can't dress up in my Professor Trelawney costume and join the crowds celebrating its release nor start reading it at 12:01AM Saturday the 21st and not stop until I am done. No, I will patiently have to wait a full day before I can start reading it (and yes Mike I get it first!!!). But in the meantime, I have my own speculations as to what will occur.

The two big questions swirling around the book are - Can Snape be trusted? and Will Harry die? I personally have to go with Dumbledore and say that Snape can be trusted. I think in the end he will prove himself to be on the side of good. My thought is that Snape will end up sacrificing himself to save Harry. But as for Harry's fate, that a harder one to call. It would wrap things up nicely to have Harry die (and stop the call for sequels) and allow Harry to reunite in some form of the afterlife with his parents and Sirius Black. But it would require killing one of the most beloved characters in children's literature. So unless Rowling can pull off a better "heaven" than C.S Lewis did at the end of The Last Battle, she will have some really disturbed kids to deal with. (and would she really want to be telling children that death is a good way to get back together with your parents who have died?) I also think that perhaps we will see in the end that Harry isn't really all that important. He has been a celebrity in the wizarding community his whole life and everyone places so much faith in his ability to destroy Voldemort, so it would be nice in a way to have him discover that he is just an "ordinary" boy. I personally think that the "prophecy" (either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives) actually refers to Neville Longbottom (as has been hinted at) and not Harry. So I think Neville will be the one to eventually defeat Voldemort (and possibly be killed in the process). That is unless Rowling works in some possible means of redeeming Voldemort. Anything could happen then. (although I do think there will be some redemption for the Dursley's, for Petunia at least).

Of course I could be way off base. But it's fun to speculate. And to point you to a much more thoughtful set of predictions, I'll send you to Alan Jacob's thoughts over at Books and Culture. It was Dr. Jacobs who first introduced me to Harry Potter by assigning Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (just beginning to gain popularity in the USA at the time) as required reading in my literature Senior Seminar class. Harry Potter was our selection for studying the pleasures of reading. And what a pleasant adventure it has been.

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