The Deathly Hallows, Chapters 18-19: We Finish Each Other’s Sandwiches

Grad school has consumed my life this semester and my Spring Break vacation has effectively canceled out my motivation to do anything, even if it is something I enjoy. Because of this, the time difference, and the fact that my motion sickness meds turn me into a zombie, my post is late. My apologies.

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I tend to procrastinate things when I don’t want them to end. I am known for not watching the finale of a TV show or season just to stretch it out a little bit longer. You don’t want to know how long I didn’t watch the demise of David Tennant’s Doctor. Let’s just say Matt Smith was firmly established as The Doctor before I finally gave in. I also did this with the latest series of Sherlock, refusing to watch the last episode. When asked how I avoid spoilers, my answer is a resounding “Ha! You think I have time to get on the internet these days? Or watch TV, for that matter?” I have never been one to frequent any sort of blog, website, or tumblr feed that would post spoilers anyway, so there are no worries. Also, I have vehemently shushed friends who tried talking about it in my presence before it even aired in the US. So not ok. But, I digress. Please, no one spoil it. I promise I will watch soon.

Because of all this, I have procrastinated my re-read and my writing of this post. I do not want us to be blogging the last book. It feels like Harry Potter is ending all over again, which was basically the worst thing ever to happen to me, literarily speaking.

One further note, I am still not caught up on everyone else’s posts, though I’m sure they are lovely. I will catch up one day, I swear, and I hope we can then have a delightful chat in the comments.

CHAPTER 18: THE LIFE AND LIES OF ALBUS DUMBLEDORE

We’re back. In the woods again. Well, at least we’re away from the giant snake. All garbled movie paraphrasings aside, I think that the s0-called downtime in this book is really important. I liken it to the difference between the Walking Dead graphic novels and the TV show. On TV, fans grumbled when the characters were holed up at the farm, mostly safe, just dealing with their own personal stuff. People watching argued that there was not enough action, too few zombie attacks. In reading the books, I feel so much more engaged with the characters and what they are going through, and when they are safe and they get to take a rest and figure things out, I am able to breathe a sigh of relief. Whew. It is this careful interspersion of action and reflection that can turn a ho-hum story into solid gold. I, for one, am fascinated with what kind of sandwich Lisbeth Salander is meticulously making for her lunch and with what type of furniture she is decorating her new apartment. And would an episode of Buffy be truly great if they didn’t spend time doing research in the library before going after the big bad? This slow unfurling of character development and plot revelations, punctuated by action, is perfectly paced there and here in book 7. If you would like constant, nonstop action interspersed with harried explanatory passages (usually delivered while running from something), I have a nice Dan Brown book with your name on it.*

Dear Batty, Thanks for your help. Here’s a copy of the book, hope you like it. You said everything, even if you don’t remember it. Rita.

Just in case we haven’t established this enough, Rita Skeeter is just the worst. Most biased journalist ever, perhaps? And slimier than slime.

In this chapter, Harry reads some excerpts from her book in an attempt to learn more about Dumbledore’s life. This is where we find out some (biased) things about his past and how (shockingly) at age seventeen, he wasn’t necessarily the paragon of virtue he is presented as later in life. He once had intellectual discussions about politics with someone who turned out to be a somewhat evil dictator that made him seem like he was also headed down that road.

Emptying my mind of the experiences of reading this book over and over again, I tried to read the excerpts from Rita Skeeter’s book with the knowledge that JK Rowling intended Dumbledore as a homosexual character writing to his secret significant other (or at least someone with whom he had an infatuation). I can see how he could have been swayed by Grindelwald’s idealism, especially if he presented reasonably intelligent arguments. You don’t get to become a dictator without at least having a convincing argument. He, of course, came to his senses before it was taken too far.

It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

Harry gets angry because no one is as virtuous and infallible as he is, and because Dumbledore never told him the whole truth about anything (which is true, and understandably frustrating).

CHAPTER 19: THE SILVER DOE

A perfect storm of magical stuff occurs in this chapter. First, we have the magic of a name. We know that names can have enchantments, such as the one put on Voldemort’s. In this case, the first time Hermione says Ron’s name, he hears it through the Deluminator, and it leads him back to her. It is only at this point, when they both seem to have a mutual interest in returning to one another, that Dumbledore’s spelled object can reunite them. Dumbledore appears to have possessed a level of foresight beyond his original abilities with this bit of magic, but it worked, in any case. He knew Ron would be a jealous buttface and abandon Harry, then regret it and come back. Maybe because he’s done it a few times before…

Next bit of magic is: the Doe. Question: why is everyone all about Lily? She must have been quite a girl. Even Slughorn was creepily obsessed with her. Speaking of being creepy, Snape was apparently following them around so he could give them the sword. Why was it in a freezing pond? Just for funsies? He couldn’t possibly have just left it outside the tent flap or something. There is possibly something I’m not remembering here that comes up later. Those of you who know the answer can just fill me in down in the comments. It was good that it was in that freezing pond, since Harry jumps in with the freaking necklace that hates him and is poisoning all their minds still around his neck (and without waking up Hermione for help…). These horcruxes must come with an impulse to wear them, even when doing so makes absolutely no sense and cost Dumbledore his health and nearly cost Harry his life. One almost killed Ginny, too… Anyway, the perfect storm allows Ron to jump in and save him when the necklace starts to choke him.

Last bit: they use the sword to destroy the horcrux and all of Ron’s fears and jealousies are revealed. I have so much empathy for Ron. I’ve been the odd one out in a lot of situations in my life, and I feel for him. This allows them to mend their friendship as they sit around DYING FROM HYPOTHERMIA. Seriously, in the movie, they stay out all night, soaking wet, in sub-freezing temperatures.

Anyway, all of the disparate magics come together in a truly cool way (hence the title of this post).

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They get back to the tent, and Hermione beats on Ron so much Harry actually throws up a protective shield between them. I love this. She is PISSED. Oh, Ron. What did you expect?

And that is all. I’ve really enjoyed blogging with you guys! – Jen

*I’m no book snob. I’ve totally read most of the books he has written. I’m just saying there’s no comparison.

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13 thoughts on “The Deathly Hallows, Chapters 18-19: We Finish Each Other’s Sandwiches

  1. Gretchen Alice says:

    “I have procrastinated my re-read and my writing of this post. I do not want us to be blogging the last book. It feels like Harry Potter is ending all over again, which was basically the worst thing ever to happen to me, literarily speaking.”

    So I’ve been doing the same thing, procrastination-wise, and I don’t think I realized why until you put it in words. Nailed it.

  2. Ashley says:

    I still haven’t watched the last episode of Sherlock, either, and I’ve stalled in my BSG rewatch because I haven’t seen season 4.5 since it aired and I’m scared.

    I think Jo has said in interviews that Grindelwald did not reciprocate Dumbledore’s feelings. Also, that it had gone past philosophical discussions, that Dumbledore was pretty much in on the on plan to subjugate the masses, so I’m glad he changed his mind.

    As for the sword, I think the reasoning was only someone who had earned the sword (who the sword felt had earned it, rather) could wield it. The original intent was for Harry to do this, but it’s Ron’s turn to kick some Voldy ass. I think they mention it specifically later in the book.

    P.S. I don’t think you’re quite done with this project yet. Look for an email from me next week 🙂

    • Jen says:

      Ah yes. I like that Ron earned it. It’s good when Ron does things.

    • Jen says:

      I forgive him of his 17 year old notions. My politics today are quite far removed from what they were when I was 17. Heck, Hilary Clinton was a Goldwater Republican.

      Am I weird in wishing Rowling wouldn’t give interviews on this sort of thing? I like my HP world the way it is in the books. I’m not sure it needs further explanation and strange tangents like her musings on why she wishes she put Harry and Hermione together. I never watch or read them.

      • Ashley says:

        I like when she gives interviews about stuff that happened outside the narrative, less so if it’s something she changed or regrets. It made me upset at first that she said she’d made a mistake with R&H, but I got over it quickly because she can’t change it and I like it the way it is. The fandom BLEW UP as always, of course. Were you around for the time she and Emerson Spartz called all the H/H shippers delusional? Oh my God, it was glorious. And ironic, considering.

        I’m still waiting very impatiently for that promised Potter Encyclopedia with all of her unused notes and biographies.

        • Gretchen Alice says:

          “Were you around for the time she and Emerson Spartz called all the H/H shippers delusional?”
          One of the best moments in HP history. Also, have I ever talked about the insanely huge internet crush I had on Emerson Spartz? My word.

  3. emmawolf says:

    I’m in the UK and I still haven’t watched the 3rd season of Sherlock. No spoilers here.

    With the sword, Dumbledore told Snape that the sword had to present itself to someone showing bravery/a true Gryffindor. I didn’t read it so much that only if you are brave can you wield the sword but that Snape had to trick Ron and Harry into believing the sword magically appeared rather than that someone handed it to them in case Voldemort read Harry’s mind.

    I agree with you about the necessary down time in chapter 18 for them to think about what happened and who the players are. (The seemingly endless camping scenes earlier in the book, not so much.)

    “It is only at this point, when they both seem to have a mutual interest in returning to one another, that Dumbledore’s spelled object can reunite them.”

    Interesting. I didn’t read it like this. Ron says he regretted it immediately, and Hermione was very upset by his leaving and wanted him to come back. Or did you mean Harry?

    To me, I read it as something about the power of names. It wasn’t until Hermione said Ron’s name (or called him) at the end of chapter 17 that the Deluminator began to “work” for Ron. He explains hearing Hermione’s voice at the end of chapter 19. Since Dumbledore was always on about calling Voldemort by his name, I kind of thought Dumbledore saw some sort of subtle magic in naming things and would have created the Deluminator to work based on that.

    • Jen says:

      I just thought that when she said his name, it was finally like she was expressing that she wanted him to come back. She was finally acknowledging his existence again. I’m not saying she didn’t miss him before. That was pretty obvious.

      • emmawolf says:

        I guess I misread your post. When you said “It is only at this point, when they both seem to have a mutual interest in returning to one another, that Dumbledore’s spelled object can reunite them.” I interpreted it as her saying his name being the point when they both had a mutual interest in Ron’s reappearance. Clearly I did misread, as I missed what you had said about the magic in a name.

        Still, it’s my interpretation that it was more name calling that the expression. Especially in the context of how/why she said his name (which is why it kinda bugged me in the movie that Harry told Ron that Hermione had called his name in her sleep, IIRC). Then again, I apparently can’t read, so there’s that.

        • Jen says:

          I am saying that it is the name. The spell is 100% based on his name, and this is how it measures their willingness to reunite. Like she is calling to him by finally saying his name. I am not sure the deluminator is smart enough to know any other way.

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