I started reading Harry Potter when I was in the second half of 5th grade—which, in my opinion, is the perfect time to start, and clearly my teacher, Mr. Coulter, agreed. One day before we were dismissed for the afternoon, he read our class the first chapter, and by the time he was finished I had to know what happened next. I was 10 years old, and already a voracious reader; though the funny thing is, I literally cannot remember what I read before then. (Except Holes, probably, which remains to this day one of my favorite books, and I still have my copy from childhood sitting on my shelf, since I can’t bring myself to part with it.)
In fact, I would go so far as to say that it’s really difficult for me to imagine my life before Harry Potter, since it’s been with me for more than half the time I’ve been alive. (I suddenly feel very young and very old at the same time, it’s a strange feeling.) I grew up with Harry, Ron, Hermione, and the rest of these characters that we’ve all come to know and love. They, and the book series, are an intrinsic, very personal part of my life, and it’s difficult to separate myself from them. And why would I? They’re some of my oldest friends that I’m able to revisit again and again whenever I feel like it.
And speaking of friends…
CHAPTER 10: HALLOWEEN
When I realized I’d been assigned this chapter by pure luck of the draw, I was so excited. Not only is “Halloween” one of my favorite chapters in the entire series, I really feel like it’s an incredibly pivotal moment, and one that is very personal to me, so I’m very happy I get to discuss it.
After their midnight adventure and their run-in with the three-headed dog on the third floor corridor, Hermione isn’t on very good terms with Harry and Ron, and understandably so. It’s really a stark difference in opinion, which is highlighted quite well by this gem on the first page of the chapter:
Indeed, by the next morning Harry and Ron thought that meeting the three-headed dog had been an excellent adventure, and they were quite keen to have another one.
It’s a credit to Rowling’s writing that she’s so capable of capturing the spirit of two eleven-year old boys in so few words. She does that a lot, I’ve noticed on this re-read, little tidbits of character thrown in economically and wonderfully, not distracting from the narrative at all, but rather enhancing it. Another example that stood out to me in this chapter comes later on when Harry and Ron are rescuing Hermione from the troll, and she describes Harry doing “something that was both very brave and very stupid.” Which is incredibly telling of Harry’s character throughout the rest of the series, really. He means well, and he is very courageous, but you really have to question his life choices sometimes.
But before I go down that rabbit hole, I want to get back to the real reason I was so excited to be talking about this chapter: Hermione. Hermione Granger is one of my favorite literary characters in the history of ever, and I think the reason behind that is because I’ve always identified with her, as well as admired her. Growing up, I was very shy, but also very smart, so in the classroom it was always a battle between knowing the answer to the question and my ability to raise my hand and say it in front of people. Hermione, however, has no qualms with answering questions in a public setting. She’s smart, and she knows it, and she has no issue with telling people how it is, even though she gets an awful lot of shit for it in these early chapters.
“I know the answer! It’s ‘fuck you I’m awesome.'”
I’ve had discussions with people before where they insist that Hermione would have probably been better suited to Ravenclaw, but I respectfully disagree, and here’s why: yes, she’s smart, but the ability to speak one’s mind regardless of potential shaming or consequences is definitely courageous, and I absolutely think that this is something that should be presented more in mainstream media, especially to young girls. I’m very passionate about feminist representation and strong female characters, and I really think that my intense love and interest in such things came from Hermione, which I adore Rowling for. She’s just so adept at writing compelling and realistic characters who aren’t perfect and make mistakes, yes, but that just lends them more credibility and offers a contrast to when they do something really extraordinary. It’s something I’ve constantly been striving to incorporate in my own writing, and I really think it changed my life. Continue reading