And here we are. The final book of the series.
Endings are tough, aren’t they? We’ve all invested time in a TV show or book series only to be totally let down by the conclusion, right? That’s just something you don’t forgive, is it? There are still people who complain about the ending of Lost or Battlestar Galactica. Hell, I’m still angry about the ending of X-Files. I’d argue that Deathly Hallows is one of the best conclusions in pop culture.
CHAPTER FOUR: THE SEVEN POTTERS
So, it turns out that Dudley isn’t that bad after all. This, of course, should come as no surprise to anyone who has read thus far. Rowling has been very clear on her concept of good and evil. People aren’t born one or the other, but are molded by the circumstances around them. This has been clearly stated in terms of Draco Malfoy (and hinted at with Sirius if not expressly stated), but it’s here in Book Seven that we finally see it applied to Dudley. Dudley was a bully because he was spoiled by his parents. Within the walls of Number 4 Privet Drive, Dudley got whatever he wanted, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that he lashed out whenever he was denied something in the outside world.
Anyways… Here we are. The bug-out chapter. I must confess, the thought of Harry leaving the Dursleys’ house for the last time is a little bit emotional for me. My parents sold the house I grew up in almost ten years ago. I’ll never set foot in that house again. I’ll never see the bedroom where I spent countless hours trying to beat Legend of Zelda or the living room where I watched Star Wars while reenacting it with action figures or the staircase where I used to sit and read Dickens (shut up!). Sure, Harry’s life with the Dursleys was absolute shit and all he’s wanted was to get out, but this is still a huge moment for Harry. He’s not just saying goodbye to Privet Drive. He’s saying goodbye to childhood, to whatever innocence he had left.
I continue to be amazed at all of the things that have occurred to me during this reread. Some things I think I may have realized before and just forgotten, other things are clearly brand new. For example, the whole thing with the Seven Potters. How the hell did it never occur to me that the seven Potters were a nod to Voldemort’s seven Horcruxes? Yes, even with the knowing look between Harry and Hermione it went completely over my head–admittedly, I don’t usually notice symbols or metaphors or whatever; I have a hard time wrapping my brain around anything other than the text. That’s why I like Moby Dick—
Speaking of the Seven Potters (and, since it’s the name of the chapter, what else would we be talking about?), this scene in the movie is incredible, isn’t it? If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good body-swap episode. I love seeing actors playing other actors. And here’s Daniel Radcliffe playing six other characters, most of whom we’ve known for six movies. Brilliant!
Other random bits…
- Harry departs No. 4 Privet Drive in the exact same way he arrived: on Sirius’ flying motorcycle.
- Lupin and Tonks get married…and will certainly live happily ever after. Right? Right!?
- “I knew Ginny was lying about that tattoo.”
- The trace…Lily’s charm… Rowling isn’t sitting on her laurels here. She continues to do some solid worldbuilding even as she’s wrapping up her story. Amazing.
- Speaking of worldbuilding: Just when you thought we’ve learned all we need to know about wands and wandlore, Rowling lets us know there’s still more shit we don’t know.
- HEDWIG! NO!!!
CHAPTER FIVE: FALLEN WARRIOR
One of the things that kinda bugs me about Deathly Hallows is how obvious the World War II allegory can be sometimes. But, a lot of that stems from the Nazi side of things: the blood purity and genocide stuff. However, the more straightforward military stuff really appeals to me: the underground resistance, the war of propaganda, all of that. And that’s where this chapter lives.
The resistance tried to sneak an important leader from one safe house to another, but they are discovered. Now, after a harrowing escape, we’re left to wonder: Who has survived?
And what a question that is! Death is a real threat in the Harry Potter series. We’ve seen Cedric die. We’ve seen Sirius die. We’ve seen Dumbledore die. And we’ve just seen Hedwig die. So, as Harry is sitting in the Tonks’ house, anxiously awaiting the arrival of his friends, we’re no more certain than he is that everyone is going to show up alive. My god, the tension! Was death ever this close in the series up to this point? If I were Harry, I’d be sitting there wishing I was back in the tunnels under Hogwarts fighting a giant snake.
I said it earlier in this post, Deathly Hallows is about growing up. (Okay, the entire series is about growing up, but this book really puts the last nail in the coffin of childhood.) Harry’s been stripped of almost every protective figure in his life. His parents, his godfather, his mentor, and now his general: Mad-Eye Moody. Sure, Hagrid and the Weasleys will always be there for him, as will Lupin and Tonks (more or less), but now’s the time for Harry to take charge of his own protection. Now, protecting yourself means that sometimes you might have to do something that you don’t want to do. Lupin telling Harry that he might have to kill is a huge deal. Lupin is taking the pragmatic view, the realistic view. Harry, however, is clinging to the idealism of youth. He doesn’t have to become the monster to defeat the monster.
- My heart breaks a little every time one of the Marauders tells Harry how much he reminds them of James.
- Oh, god! George! What happened?! Oh… Oh, okay… It’s just an ear. He’s fine. The twins will be okay. Nothing bad will happen to them. Nothing to see here.
- We meet another Black who doesn’t seem to agree with the Death Eaters’ idea of blood purity. I’m starting to think that maybe Bellatrix was the black sheep…