I have just binged on every post written since before Thanksgiving. Life left me little time to keep up to date on our reread, and since I didn’t have an assignment in December, things spiraled. And now my brain AND my butt hurts, but here it is. I’ve exhausted myself with the below, so this is all the intro you’re getting.
CHAPTER 24: OCCLUMENCY
Snape shows up at Grimmauld Place on Dumbledore’s orders and announces that is to teach Harry “Occlu-thing” this term. Sirius and Harry are baffled- why in the what would Dumbledore pick Snape to teach Harry to close off his mind. Like, I still am wondering this. Is Dumbledore blind to Snape’s hatred toward Harry, or does he think this will help them be buddies? I’m sure he has a good reason for it, but I have no idea.
Snape repeatedly jabs Sirius, eventually striking a huge nerve by calling him a coward. Sirius has been locked up in a house that stands for all he despises. He’d be more than happy to throw caution to the wind and hang with the Order, but a few people he cares about have asked him not to (i.e.. Dumbledore, Harry). He’s getting cabin fever and has probably felt completely useless. Snape, happy to make people more miserable than he is, uses Sirius’s self-consciousness to smack him hard.
In a book that has been criticized for its hormonal teenage angst, we often over look the adult angst in the story. In this reread, I found myself to have far more in common in Harry than I did when I first read this at seventeen. I’m not saying a was a perfectly happy, pleasant teenager, but then, my life experiences then were not nearly as dramatic as Harry’s, or at least I didn’t perceive them to be at the time (cryptic, but true). When I was seventeen, I was successful- great grades, first chair clarinet, section leader, unaffected by the “cool” crowd, because I had tons of friends in band and my AP classes. Nerds unite! I wore awful clothes, didn’t know how to do my hair, and was probably completely awkward, but I’m pretty sure I was happy. Fifteen may have been a different story, but I was not fifteen when I first read this.
And then, I became an adult. That first year of college was the worst. It took forever to make friends, I sucked at calculus and chemistry, I ate all the damn time, I had a roommate I couldn’t stand, I wore more bad clothes, and I didn’t know what the hell to do with my life. Self-esteem go boom. It’s a good thing though, because I never would have taken the path I took. I changed my major, joined marching band (again, nerds unite!), and I had some of the best years of my life.
But you know what? I often go back to that dorm room with my TGIFriday’s frozen southwestern egg rolls and enormous chemistry lab reports. It happens a lot: like when I person I love dearly went to rehab for his drinking problem, like when someone who is supposed to love me says something completely awful to my face, like when a pet or a grandparent dies. Or like when I’m feeling self-conscious about work and stay up half the night dwelling on it. Or when I’m just down for no good reason or feeling bad about myself.
It doesn’t stick. It doesn’t stay for too long most of the time, much like the hollow tone of much of OOTP. I’m sure Jo could relate.
What I’m saying is, everybody feels powerless sometimes. If you don’t, tell me your secret. Powerlessness and suffering is a part of LIFE. It’s okay to NOT be happy all the time, because I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but life kind of sucks half the time. I read OOTP this time around during one of my “dorm room” moments of life and it was almost reassuring. I’m not alone! All these fictional characters are feeling shitty right along with me! I can’t be the only one who is reassured by fictional characters.
Sirius is hanging out in his dorm room with his awful roommate, binging on junk food, because he can’t go out and play cops and robbers with his buddies. Snape calls him a coward, and I’m sure Sirius feels like one. He’s powerless to help Harry, he’s powerless to help the Order, and he wants to pummel Snape for taking advantage of his emotional state. And holy shit, can I relate to that!
Anyway, back to Hogwarts everyone goes, and on the Knight Bus at that! Things start to get settled, but then Harry must go to the dreaded occlumency lesson.
Snape is the worst teacher ever. Can you imagine occlumency taught by Remus Lupin? I’m drooling! But no, he gets Snape.
He is cruel, demeaning impatient, crossing inappropriate boundaries (creepy much?). He intimidates and makes it absolutely impossible for Harry to do anything successfully*. I’ve sung Snape’s praises before, but I won’t deny I have periods of loathing. This is one of those moments. He truly is the WORST at teaching.
But then he says something to Harry that sort of gets to me.
Fools who wear their hearts proudly on their sleeves, who cannot control their emotions, who wallow in sad memories and allow themselves to be provoked this easily – weak people, in other words – they stand no chance against his powers!
It’s funny, because he’s describing the worst sort of person he could think of- and it’s himself in many ways. It’s funny, because he couldn’t be more wrong. The more accepting one is of their own emotions, the stronger they become.
Oh, and then Voldy gets all kinds of happy in Harry’s dreams.
*I think this has been brought up, but I’ve always thought it interesting that Harry is so good at deflecting Imperio, but not Legilimens. Could it be he is such a strong, independent person, but is a bit of an open book? I find those to be good qualities in someone.
CHAPTER 25: THE BEETLE AT BAY
This chapter starts out pretty bleak:
- There is a mass breakout from Azkaban.
- Bode from St. Mungo’s is murdered.
- Hagrid’s on probation.
- Umbridge continues to suck.
- Neville takes his vendetta to the DA.
- Ron suspects Snape of having ulterior motives for teaching Harry.
- And worst of all: it’s Valentine’s Day. So much expectation!
It really is the worst kind of holiday, but then on top of it, Harry is sort of pushed into going on a date with Cho. A first date, which is the worst kind of date. Let’s analyze how the two of them handle this potentially awkward situation.
Things Harry Did Well:
- Dressing well
- Flirting with Cho about the Quidditch match
Things Harry Screwed Up:
- Wishing he were at Quidditch, instead of with Cho (bad sign, guys)
- Allowing Pansy to get to him
- Getting nervous in the coffee shop
- Bringing up his meeting with Hermione
- Not grabbing her hand when he had the chance
Things Cho Rocked:
- Being a hot Asian chick (every guys’ type)
- Bringing up current events
- Suggesting coffee
- Talking about how Umbridge sucks
- Her dramatic coffee shop exit into the rain
Things in Which Cho Could Use Some Improvement:
- Bringing up depressing current events
- Choice in coffee shops
- Bringing it up that it’s Valentine’s Day- I mean, NO PRESSURE
- Thinking Harry is into Hermione
- Not letting Harry hold her hand
- Bringing up that Roger Davies asked her out
- Bringing up she went to this same coffee shop with Cedric, her dead boyfriend
- Asking Harry is he said anything about her before he died
- Bawling in the middle of the coffee shop
- Insisting that they talk about his death, even though it was supposed to be a date
- Suggesting that Harry is a man whore
The verdict: Harry may not rock at dates with girls that are not Ginny, but Cho truly needs some help in dating land. And probably some therapy.
To wrap up the chapter, Hermione again proves to be the greatest by feeding the Death Eater story to Rita Skeeter. Hell yes.