Friday, April 12, 2013

Harry Potter and the Order of the Readalong 4: The fate of the known world rests in the hands of a boy who doesn't unwrap his packages in a timely manner



We’re done with Order of the Phoenix. Our feels are bruised and battered, and yet we proceed stalwartly onward.

Here’s the haps, clicky: We learn that people with speech impediments cannot do magic (somewhere, Stephen Hawking is weeping silently); Dumbledore deserves all the hugs (“Harry looked up at him and saw a tear trickling down Dumbledore’s face into his long silver beard.”); I desire to know what the centaurs were doing with Umbridge for an entire night (and also don’t want to know even a little bit); “Lord Thingy” is the best Voldemort name substitute yet; Neville strokes his Mimbulus mimbletonia, and several readers find themselves wishing they were a gray cactus covered in oozy boils; and we learn that Harry had a two-way mirror with which to communicate directly with Sirius WRAPPED IN HIS SUITCASE FOR THE ENTIRETY OF THE BOOK.

But if you prefer to stick your head in a sworn enemy's fireplace,
BY ALL MEANS.

I have for Hagrid some simple steps to making a good decision: (1) Don’t remove Grawp from the mountains. (2) Leave Grawp in the mountains. (3) If you MUST remove Grawp from the mountains, don’t bring Grawp near a school. (4) Don’t introduce your small friends to Grawp, that they may become tasty morsels in Grawp’s tummy.

But Hagrid has ignored all my advice. Just all of it.

Surely, this is the best sentence in all of literature:
“The baby-headed Death Eater had appeared in the doorway, his head bawling, his great fists flailing uncontrollably at everything around him.” (p. 793)
Also this:
“I doubt it,” shouted tiny Professor Marchbanks, “not if Dumbledore doesn’t want to be found! I should know. . . . Examined him personally in Transfiguration and Charms when he did N.E.W.T.s . . . Did things with a wand I’d never seen before . . .” (p. 711) 


Alice was asking me a few days ago who we should ship with Harry, in a perfect world where Ginny actually ends up with someone who deserves her. I still think Harry should probably be single forever, BUT I nominate Neville for the role of Best Friend (sorry, Ron).

Yes, ALL Harry’s friends are loyal, but in the Ministry of Magic, none were more loyal than our dear Neville. Not only does he repeatedly refuse to leave Harry’s side, but he bravely faces up to the loony woman who robbed him of his parents (and I become uncomfortably aroused for the eleventy-millionth time since this readalong began).

This enduring friendship makes sense on so many levels. Neville and Harry are both technical orphans, and loyal/stubborn Neville ultimately saves Harry’s life by jamming Hermione’s wand in McNair’s eyehole (you should probably give that a good polish back at the school, Hermione). But even more than that, Neville is essentially Alternate Universe Harry, because it could have been he who was destined to face off with Lord Voldemort, according to the prophecy and all that. And if events had panned out that way, and Voldemort HAD marked Neville instead of Harry, I think he would have kicked just as much ass as Harry, if not more. And there would have been weaponized flora involved.

28 comments:

  1. Fucking Harry and that mirror. WHY WOULDN'T YOU OPEN IT. AGHHHH.



    I love everything about this post. And you. BAM.

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  2. 1) 'We learn that people with speech impediments cannot do magic." Wait, but the Death Eater that hurt Hermione was silencio-ed, so people can do magic without talking but a speech impediment a-la Neville's bloody nose makes it impossible? WHAT IS THIS LOGIC JKR?

    2) If Vmort had picked Neville, maybe Neville would have been awesome at magic from the start because he would have known that he had this huge dark-lord-defeating power inside him.

    3) Weaponized flora! OMGWANT.


    4) Hellloooooo GIF!Neville.

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  3. I didn't participate for this book, to my own eternal shame. But I love your posts today.


    I ship Harry and Draco. Just sayin'. You know, the beloved enemy thingy.

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  4. Okay, I will not have this. Harry elects not to open the package because he doesn't want to put Sirius at risk. Sirius gives it to him; Harry's like, "Nope, no way, I am not going to be the reason you get put at risk," and he puts the package in his trunk and forgets about it. That is actually a fairly good and mature thing by Harry -- to make a resolution that he's going to abide by the rules because he recognizes that they are there to protect someone he cares about.

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  5. I tried to find the part where Sirius gives Harry the mirror...and I cannot. BUT I would argue that this is yet another instance when Harry thinks he knows better and makes the wrong decision. Because if he HAD opened the package, he would have used the mirror instead of the floo powder and would have seen that Sirius was safe at Grimmauld Place. And Sirius would still be alive now. So.

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  6. You're certainly not alone in this, Emily. And I think I'm creeping ever closer to your camp.

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  7. I think maybe you have to be a certain level of wizard to do magic without speaking the incantations aloud. Because Dumbledore does a LOT without saying a word. But how would you even get to that level if you can't start out with the simple spoken stuff? Y'know?

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  8. He is stubborn as a block of wood.

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  9. Hmmm, I disagree, J. Harry INITIALLY elects not to open the package for noble reasons, but then he *forgets it in his trunk for the whole year.* Given that Harry risked both his own and Sirius's necks TWICE using Umbridge's fire (which is obvs. against the rules in a bigger way than Sirius's mirrors), I don't think it's a question of Harry making a mature judgement so much as it was Sirius somewhat overstating the import of the mirrors when he gave them to Harry. If he'd told him what it was at the beginning, they'd have been speaking the whole time.

    However, we wouldn't have the corridor swamp or the Weasley exit or some of the other great stuff, and that would be sad. I'm really just trying to say that as a literary device, the mirror is shitty; the only service it provides is making us feeeeeeeeel worse for Harry when he finds it again TOO LATE.

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  10. WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?!?

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  11. I THINK IT'S PRETTY SELF-EXPLANATORY.

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  12. I DID FIND IT and Sirius is like, Look, call me if Snape is being a dick, and Harry thinks that it's not going to be him that lures Sirius from his place of safety even if Snape is being a monster. And that is a mature decision. It leads to bad outcomes, but the decision is pretty sensible.

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  13. Wait...but that has nothing to do with the METHOD of contacting Sirius and everything to do with contacting Sirius PERIOD. So by that reasoning he never would have attempted to contact Sirius by floo powder...but he did. Three times. So if he's gonna contact Sirius at all, he might as well do it by the means that Sirius provided for that purpose. Is my thinking.

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  14. I would kind of love this. It does seem to make a lot of sense.

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  15. I bet Actor Neville would never have become so beautiful if he hadn't played Character Neville. Playing him, he got all this good Neville-karma that manifested in aaahWOOOgaa!

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  16. *I* think it's Harry being like, Not going to lure Sirius (i.e. being Good Idea Harry) but then JK being For Plot Purposes JK and having him forget it in the trunk, because WHAT OTHER PURPOSE DOES IT SERVE except to, as Tika says, make us feeeeeel bad. Harry should have been like, Not going to use this but going to place it here as a nice visual reminder of my beloved godfather, and then when he had to badly contact him he would have been like, OH RIGHT, that mirror that I keep on my dresser. Of course.


    JKRo I see your sticky fingers on this.

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  17. "Neville strokes his Mimbulus mimbletonia," Well, they ARE teenagers now...


    I am so into Neville being Harry's bff. Because, you know, Ron is clearly not as awesome as Neville. Because NO ONE IS!

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  18. We loves her and we hates her.

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  19. If we could bottle good Neville-karma, we would be RICH.

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  20. I wonder if he learned that from Percy.

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  21. Do people TEACH masturbation, Megs? DO THEY?! But also, loooool

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  22. I feel like this question might be a trap...

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  23. Um, the mental images in my head of weaponized flora are FANTASTIC. like an army of magical carnivorous plants. so fantastic.

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  24. well, I did not mean to use "fantastic" twice in two sentences, but you get the gist.

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  25. Like the Ents in Lord of the Rings. Or the killer tomatoes!

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  26. Oh, this is a thing people actually say? I just typed the first thing that came out of my fingers. But I suppose...a block of wood is stubborn because it doesn't move. I suppose.

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  27. Obviously not or I wouldn't have asked, Smarty! I mean, I get the reference, I guess. But wood is pretty pliable so the idiom makes me grouchy.

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