Monday, August 30, 2010

Harry Potter Quandaries: Another Non-Review of Harry Potter #3 & #4

Since I'll be teaching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows this fall, I have been rereading the series.  If you can believe it, this is my first time going all the way back through them and it has been a pure delight!  Along the way though, I have had questions and observations pop up that I didn't notice the first time I read them.  Maybe you can join in and help me out?

Here are some of the things I noticed or questioned in book three:

  • In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, we don't actually end the novel with a showdown with Voldemort.  I think I somehow missed that, since it was only the third book.  I wondered then if this was a time that he was getting more strength to make his big attack in the fourth installment?
  • After reading #3, I watched the movie and have to say I remember why I wasn't thrilled with it.  In the scene where Harry's classmates are all learning how to fight off a boggart, Harry jumps in and finds himself face to face with a Death Eater.  I had forgotten that in the book, Lupin doesn't actually let him join in on the activity, fearing that he might conjure up Voldemort instead (and wouldn't that have scared his classmates to death).  I'm sure it was for time and space, but I thought it was interesting that they skimmed this.
  • I was reminded how sorry I felt for Lupin and his condition as a werewolf.  This is a good novel to show that Snape really was much more engaged in the "good guy" team and not the complete bad guy we thought.  We could say that Dumbledore made (coerced) Snape into making the potion to control Lupin's changing, but Snape seemed much more in the loop in this novel than I remember.
  • I will still admit to not being 100% positive on the role of the stag that Harry uses to fight the Death Eaters.  It's a beautiful, touching scene though when Harry realizes that it's not someone else saving him and Sirius, but that he has it within himself to fight the Death Eaters.  Such a great scene.
Okay, so let me ask about book four, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  This happens to be my favorite of the series, which I've read about four times now.  I do have some thoughts and questions though:
  • Why is it that Professor Moody, if he's not the real Moody, would come to Harry's aid and punish Draco Malfoy for attempting to fight him?  I'm thinking this might be due to Barty Crouch being angry at Malfoy's father for not standing up for The Dark Lord and going to Azkeban as he had?  I'm not sure.
  • This isn't really a question, but more of an observation here, but I have to say that I was sad that the film cut out the Winky part of the storyline.  The house elves played such a larger part in the books than in the films and actually added a social justice element to the storyline that I appreciated.
  • In the book, Viktor Krum is made out to be a moody twit.  Although he was this great Quidditch god, he really seemed to be portrayed as more of  a fringe character than I remembered.  In some ways, because of the role he plays in showing the boys that Hermione is more than just a smart girl, I almost wish he was a stronger romantic lead than the book let on.  Am I weird in thinking that?  
  • The Christmas dance made me a little envious of the entire boarding school type of system.  I don't know that I could have handled staying at school, rather than with my parents, but as a teenager I have to say that celebrating with friends like they do in this installment looked pretty awesome.
  • My favorite scene has to be in the third challenge when Harry and Cedric touch the portkey and are transported to the cemetery.  I love how Rowling uses a juxtaposition of a weak Harry with one who is made strong through the aid of loved ones to battle Voldemort.  I CRY every time I read this scene!  Maybe because my own father has passed away and I feel Harry's eagerness to see them, but when Harry and Voldemort's wands touch and Harry says he knows who will be coming out next and his mother appears to tell him his father is on his way, I can't hold back the tears.  In such a monumental moment of need, his parents are there to help him.  I have to remember though, that only moments before those killed by Voldemort came back out of the wand, Harry had managed to push the bead between their wands closer to his enemy.  That tells us that Harry has a power over Voldermort that is unique and clearly all his own.  *sigh*  It's just such great reading!
  • FYI about the scene above, I need to go back and check the American version, but I've been told that the order the characters pop out is backward to the British version (which I'm reading); instead of his mother popping out first, his father does?  I will have to go check that out to see if that's the case, and if so, why they would do that?
  • This begins a dark phase to the series, where innocent characters are being killed off in front of Harry, and each of us as readers.  Is death an important element to help mature and push Harry? (I'm thinking that's a yes, but have been thinking more about the change this brings to Harry?)
I've really fallen in love with this series even more and am glad that I'm doing this before the final two films come out.  Most likely I'll risk looking like a ninny in the theaters because I know I'm going to shed a few tears, knowing this is the end of an era that brought such excitement into my life.  What other books have I stood in line for or even anticipated the films to the point that I waited on a theater's corridor floor to insure that I get the best seats possible?  Were we just lucky enough to be alive at the time of a phenomenon that was once in a lifetime, or will another series come along to reshape the industry and a globe of readers?  I know there are good books that come along, that grab our attention and hearts, but to this magnitude?  I just don't know.

I'm off to read book five. Now that school has started, I worry that I'll take forever to get through it!  Wish me luck as I push ahead through O.W.L.s and angst-ridden teens (at school and in the book).

I'd love to hear any observations you have on any of the questions or ideas I've posted, as well as thoughts you might have on these two books. This would really help me as I prepare to teach book seven, so thank you ahead of time!


  1. I think Barty aka Moody tortured Malfoy just because he's a sadistic bastard. It was also a good way to endear himself more to Harry.

    The thing I always wonder about, though, is in the fifth book Moody appears to help Harry out, and it's totally not weird, which I would think it would be. No, Moody wasn't the one who attacked and plotted against him, but Barty was in Moody's disguise 99% of the time. And Harry never even knew the real Moody at all. Yet when Moody shows up in book five he's not regarded with a bit of suspicion and is treated all buddy-buddy? Makes no sense.

  2. Your observation about Harry's parents popping out of Voldemort's wand made me think of the scene in Deathly Hallows when Harry is (we think) walking to meet Volemort (and certain death) and his mother and father join him. I bawled like a baby when he asked, "will it hurt?". I think that Rowling wrote teenagers so well in the series, and I appreciate that Harry saw the good and the bad about his parents (particularly his father) but still longed for them.

    I don't think you will be the only one to shed some tears over the series in movie form coming to an end. I'm pretty sure I'm going to cry through both installments of the last book. I'm looking forward to reading the entire series again before November.

    Thanks for a wonderful reminder of books 3 and 4!

  3. I love your observations. I really am going to have to go back and re read this series. I remember being disappointed at how much of Ron's brothers they left out in the movies-they are mentioned much more in the books, if I'm remembering it right.

  4. An interesting point, if you'll allow me, is that we actually don't see the real Voldemort after book 1 until book 4. In book 2, you remember that the diary was a horcrux, a piece of Voldemort's soul, not actually Voldemort. As stated in book 7, Voldemort didn't even know that the diary had been destroyed until later. Also, I think the significance of the stag is that it's a connection to Harry's father, since that was the animal he transformed into. It's a declaration and strength, I think, to Harry that his father is always with him. If you notice, it's Harry's father, not his mother, that Harry is always asking about, wondering about, and clinging to. It was also Harry's father who owned the Invisibility Cloak, one of the Deathly Hallows. There's a special connection between Harry and his father.

  5. Okay, can I say thank you enough?!? I so appreciate each of your points! I've thought about quirky little things that didn't add up, so it's nice to get them out and really discuss them. Honestly, where DO you find that you can have a discussion about Harry Potter without feeling like a nerd who needs a stick on lightning bolt scar?!? :) Thanks for your insights!

  6. Becky, I swear that I commented on this post a couple of days ago, but it doesn't look like it appeared. Anyway, I promised to give you the link of a Harry Potter expert. Her name is Amanda, and she blogs at The Zen Leaf. She has the books practically memorized and has posted detailed comparisons of the American and British versions. I'm sure she could help you with any remaining quandaries. Good luck with your class.