First, I’d like to apologize for the seriousness of the following recap. Sinus infections makes me humorless and lazy. Second, here is my post.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN: SNAPE’S GRUDGE
Following the near-murder of Ronald Bilius Weasley (ha, Bilius), Hogwarts staff frantically steps up the security, while Ron basks in his new-found fame and Neville receives a Howler. Harry and Ron are soon summoned to Hagrid’s hut, presumably to talk about Black’s break-in, but they’re greeted with a Hermione intervention instead. Regardless of her intensely busy schedule, she’d been helping Hagrid with Buckbeak’s defense. Harry and Ron had been so caught up with the Firebolt and Crookshanks shenanigans that they had completely forgotten about Buckbeak’s trial. But Hagrid is more worried about the way they’d been treating Hermione, who may be Miss Goody-Two-Shoes, but is just looking out for their safety. And let’s face it- we all get a little crazy about our cats. (My husband is OBSESSED with our cats.)
Harry and Ron aren’t ready to give in to Hermione yet, regardless of the threats she throws at them. I have to admit, she can get pretty obnoxious when she worries. She sounds an awfully lot like me right before my husband tells me to stop acting like my mother. So Harry and Ron ignore her and decide to meet up in Hogsmeade, even though he’s been forbidden following Black’s intrusion. After dodging both Neville and Snape, dangerous for two very different reasons (poor Neville), Harry finds Ron in Honeyduke’s while under the Invisibility Cloak.
They end up at the Shrieking Shack (thank you for the introduction, Ms. Rowling), only to find Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle loitering up the hill. Of course, Malfoy cannot resist ripping into Ron. It’s no secret that Jo Rowling was the subject of bullying as an adolescent, stating that she’d never go back to being a teenager if they paid her. We see the reoccurring subject of bullying throughout the books, and again in The Casual Vacancy. Sadly, bullying has only gotten worse in more recent years with the increase in technology and social media available to teens. While I escaped high school relatively unscathed, I do remember elementary and middle school being more difficult. People would comment on my complex tics syndrome (a condition not unlike Turret’s, that would make me wiggle a little more than normal people), my incredibly thin stature (one kid called me anorexic), and being a little bit of a Hermione, I’d been called a “dork” more than I would have preferred. More than once, I’ve found myself wishing for my own Invisibility Cloak. Jo shows us that even in the magical world, wizards and witches are not immune to teasing and bullying. I’d like to think this is a comfort to bullied kids who read these books. They are not alone, nor do they have to tolerate it. If only we all had a friend who could throw mud and sticks at our perpetrators from behind an Invisibility Cloak.
Unfortunately, in the attempt to uphold Ron’s honor the Cloak slips, showing Harry’s face to Malfoy. He ends up in Snape’s office, and we see an even worse example of bullying- that from a teacher. Snape begins Harry’s interrogation appropriately, but cannot resist digging into Harry. He accuses him, yet again, of being just like his father- which at this moment, we don’t understand as an insult.
“How extraordinarily like your father you are, Potter,” Snape said suddenly, his eyes glinting. “He too was exceedingly arrogant. A small amount of talent on the Quidditch field made him think he was a cut above the rest of us too. Strutting around the place with his friends and admirers…The resemblance between you is uncanny.”
Now, we all know Harry is not arrogant, nor does he strut. He has never once enjoyed his fame, and while he loves Quidditch more than anything else at Hogwarts, he loves the game and winning, not what other people see in him after the game is over. Snape’s perspective of Harry is incredibly skewed, and he uses his power to take out his old frustrations. Time and time again, Harry is the target of his rage and anger. Teacher bullies are always the worst kind of bullies.
This chapter is called “Snape’s Grudge,” and yet we really don’t understand WHY he has such a problem with James Potter, and we won’t for a very long time. At the moment, we think that he’s angry at James for “saving” his life and for being a dick jock, but in a few books, not to mention the end of this one, we start to understand the why. Snape was the object of the Marauders’ bullying. We see it immediately through the comments that appear on the Map, and at the moment, the reader probably thinks it’s funny (okay, I think it’s HILARIOUS actually). Snape is an asshole and is always after Harry, so we assume he probably deserves it, and maybe he does. But upon re-reading, the audience is able to see a little deeper into Snape’s motivations. He was the original victim, and while his behavior is never excusable, it’s easier to understand his automatic hatred toward Harry when he is the son of the man who bullied him and “stole” the love of his life. Bullying is a cycle- someone makes fun of someone else, who makes fun of someone else to make themselves feel better, and on and on. No one is fully innocent or immune.
Eventually, Snape calls Mr. Moony over to take a look at the map, likely fully aware he was one of the creators. I’m sure he takes pleasure in rubbing Lupin’s nose in the immaturity of his youth. Lupin, who is our example of a mature adult, confiscates the map and tells Harry to cut out the reckless behavior. Because of Harry’s respect for Lupin, he feels even worse having snuck out to Hogsmeade. As an adult, I appreciate Lupin as a teacher even more. While Snape uses fear as a teaching strategy, Lupin harnesses the students’ respect and is much more successful because of it. And, as a result, we’re all a little heartbroken that he’s not going to be back at Hogwarts next year.
I still love you, Snape.
CHAPTER FIFTEEN: THE QUIDDITCH FINALE
Okay, enough of the serious. This next chapter, while important for us Quidditch fans, is merely a transitional chapter to the finale of the book. For this reason, and the fact that my sinuses are preventing me from doing even more thinking, this recap will be brief.
A distraught Hermione hands Harry and Ron a tear-stained letter from Hagrid, stating that Buckbeak is to be executed. In the midst of the tragedy, Hermione apologizes to Ron for her cat, Ron admits Scabbers was useless, and they make up. THANK GOD, because I was starting to miss Hermione. Especially when she smacks Malfoy for talking shit about Hagrid. And then she misses a couple of classes because she was sleeping and worrying about Malfoy. She is not immune to the drama at Hogwarts, and we’re beginning to see the effects of her insane class load. AND THEN, because I think Rowling missed her too, Hermione goes all sorts of crazy in Divination. She snorts at the lesson plan, spreads her ‘tude all over class, loudly insults Professor Trelawney, and then LEAVES THE CLASS. Yes, she gets up and Leaves. A. Class. What the hell is up with Hermione?! Lavender points out that Trelawney’s prediction that someone would leave the class in the beginning of the school year came true. I LOVE Hermione.
Things begin to get a little stressful over in Gryffindor tower. Ron starts working on Buckbeak’s appeal, Hermione is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, much like that of my second semester of college, and the whole Quidditch team is starting to stress about the final against Slytherin, who they’d have to lead by like a million points before catching the Snitch if they were going to win. Hogwarts begins to resemble tailgating at the U of A vs. ASU football games- tense, uncomfortable, and full of intense rivalry insults. But Harry is likely the most stressed of them all, because as usual it all depends on him. That, and he spots the Grim over by the Whomping Willow with Crookshanks. At which point, we’re all “the hell?” (Note: I absolutely love Crookshanks and that he hangs out with Sirius.)
The morning of the Quidditch match finally arrives, with everyone on edge. The Gryffindors take an early lead, Lee does yet another fabulous job of narrating the game, and Malfoy tries to throw Harry off his broom. After a lot of really great writing that makes us believe we were RIGHT THERE in the middle of all the action, making it absolutely impossible to recap, Harry snags the snitch under Malfoy’s nose and GRYFFINDOR WINS!
I remember being so ecstatic that they’d won the cup for the first time, and being subsequently disappointed when a) there was no Quidditch, b) Harry was injured and couldn’t play Quidditch, or c) Harry wasn’t at Hogwarts to play Quidditch. Seriously, thank God for Quidditch.
Everyone else seems to feel the same. Gryffindor house goes nuts, hoisting Harry onto their shoulders. Hagrid can’t wait to tell Buckbeak, Professor McGonagall is sobbing harder than Oliver Wood, Percy is being an actual human and celebrates, and Dumbledore hands over the cup, as Harry logs this moment into his Happy Memory Bank for the next time he needs to conjure up a Patronus. Which will be pretty soon…