Friday, June 7, 2013

Harry Potter and the Deathly Readalong 3: The week of ladies in particular kicking arse

This section was packed with more action than Hermione could stuff in her magical beaded purse. Fred (or maybe George?) made a funny about Snape's distaste for hair-cleaning products. Bellatrix called Dobby a "dirty little monkey," which is offensive to house elves everywhere. Harry is making all kinds of grown-up decisions and putting all his faith in Dumbledore's wisdom at last. We learned what really happened in the Dumbledore family when Albus and Aberforth were teenagers, and only SOME of it involved goats (The Hog's Head smells faintly of goats! I get it now!). All these loose ends being tied up remind me that there's only one week left in what has started to feel like the Harry Potter Readalong of NEVER-ENDING Awesomeness. I don't know whether to be relieved or despondent.

I'm about 3 to 1 on this.

Look, I hate to keep revisiting the whole "wands are penises" thing (it pains me, really it does), but after that argument with my husband I feel like I have to defend my stance a little more. And, well . . .
Wands are only as powerful as the wizards who use them. Some wizards just like to boast that theirs are bigger and better than other people's. (p. 415)
I think I can probably plant my victory flag on that one.

On a related note, I was impressed to learn that Bellatrix's wand is 12 3/4 inches and unyielding. I think that's the longest wand in the series, aside from Voldemort's. Which I think says something about her overall lady power, be it evil or otherwise. (It's evil. She's totally evil.)

And I HARDLY think that's appropriate, Bellatrix.

Also, Hermione saved everyone's mortal soul numerous times in this section. Thinking on her feet in Xenophilius Lovegood's house and Disapparating with Ron and Harry WHILE FALLING THROUGH THE FLOOR. Girl's got skills. And then she withstood prolonged torture in Malfoy Manor without telling Bellatrix anything useful or true.

Also this:
She's tough, Luna, much tougher than you'd think. She's probably teaching all the inmates about Wrackspurts and Nargles. (p. 425)
True story.

I have another question this week. When Peter Pettigrew hesitates to kill Harry for that brief moment in the basement at Malfoy Manor and his own magical hand strangles him instead . . . I don't exactly understand what happened there. Was the hand enchanted so that if he ever failed to kill Harry, he would die? Because what if he didn't kill Harry right then because he knew Voldemort wanted to kill Harry himself. That's all anyone ever says: "Don't kill Potter. The Dark Lord wants that honor for himself," blah blah, ad nauseam. So if Pettigrew HAD killed Harry right then, he would have been in capital T trouble with his boss. And that is what we in the business call a Catch-22 . . . or else a poorly written plot device, I'm sad to say.

And now, for Week 3 . . .

1. Ted Tonks (Did he know he was a grandfather? Stop it, too sad.)
2. Dirk Cresswell (I have no memory of this person and feel pretty bad about it.)
3. Gornuk the goblin (Their eyes with no whites are creepy, right?)
4. A Muggle family of five ("unnamed, but no less regretted")
5. Dobby, a free elf (I'm so sorry I called you the Jar Jar Binks of the Harry Potter series! I feel just awful about that now.)


  1. Yes to all of the penis subtext. I'm so glad you and I are on the same wavelength there. And kudos for pointing out Bella's wand length. Behind every powerful witch there's a long...erm, I'll stop that sentence now.

    The thing with Pettigrew was a little hard to follow. My take on it is that Voldie gifted him with that, so the silver hand's creator knows no pity or remorse or mercy, and so when Pettigrew, as the owner of the silver hand, paused for a moment to acknowledge the life debt to Harry, the hand couldn't take being attached to a human who could be swayed by mercy/pity/etc. And thus had to strangle him. I think it's really strange, though.

    AND since Pettigrew was willing to cut off his hand to resurrect the Dark Lord, why wouldn't he just cut his own hand off to save his life? Or, I don't know, transform into his animagus? because rats don't have opposable thumbs for choking.

    Mostly, though, YES to all of Hermione's mad skillz. They deserve a z, not an s.

  2. We may not always agree about books, Emily...but as long as we agree about phallic imagery in Harry Potter, I think we'll be juuuust fine.

    Your Pettigrew explanation helps quite a lot actually. It's not a perfect scenario, but it makes more sense than what I previously thought, which is that the hand was enchanted to do that.

  3. Ted Tonks' death slays me - I can't really pin point why, because he's in the book for such a short time, but I think he reminds me a little of Mr Weasley so there's that.

    I think Emily might be right with Pettigrew and his hand? I always chose to avoid looking at it too closely, but I thought it was perhaps either Emily's explanation or that he realised (on a subconscious level) that he couldn't just save Harry's life, it had to be an exchange of lives and killed himself before he could be killed (by Voldemort/Malfoy/whoever). But the hand being anti-mercy probably makes more sense logistically.

  4. Oh oh oh, and I'm super sad for this readalong to end. Can we find another series IMMEDIATELY to do next?!

  5. Bellatrix, dang!

    There are penises all over these books, you are totally right. My husband and I were trying to find the penis joke in ***SPOILER FOR THE MOVIE AND MAYBE FOR THE BOOK I DON'T REMEMBER*** Neville cutting up the snake. There's gotta be a joke in there somewhere, right? If anyone can find it, this readalong group can.

  6. I really don't see how anyone could NOT thing wands=penises.

    Pettigrew's hand I think of as a poor plot device. Sort of "something something, must save Harry cos Harry spared him something something".

    Your (and Laura's) death count makes me so sad. Mostly because when I think back on the series I think of like 5 deaths and there are SO MANY MORE. I'm not emotionally prepared for next week...

  7. *steeples fingers* Oh yes...I'm quite sure we can come up with something about Neville and that snake. QUITE sure.

  8. Each week, I thought maybe there wouldn't BE any deaths and my death count would be empty. SILLY ME.

  9. NO ONE UNDERSTANDS what happened with Wormtail's hand. It's like JK was going for a Frodo-Gollum 'it was pity that stayed his hand, Gollum might yet have a part to play' sort of deal, but got all muddled.


    That's all I've got.