Tag Archives: Dumbledore

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.

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The Deathly Hallows, Chapters 2-3: Dumbledore and Dudley

I remember the slight sense of melancholy that punctuated the Deathly Hallows midnight release party in July 2007. It would be the last time we all would gather together in excitement to celebrate our beloved series, the books we had grown up with and grown to rely on. Like Borders, the now-defunct bookstore where they were held, those release parties seem like relics of the past. One has to be careful with nostalgia because it often overlooks anything bad or negative in favor of the “good ol’ days,” but when I look back at my time spent with the Harry Potter books, I know nostalgia isn’t interfering with my memories. Every bit of it truly was the “good ol’ days.” This re-read has allowed me to relive some of those memories—to go back and try to capture the feeling of reading the series for the very first time—and for that I’m grateful. Let’s continue it for a little while longer, shall we?

CHAPTER 2: IN MEMORIAM

Our next chapter begins with a bit of melancholy as well. Harry is sorting through his school trunk, deciding what to take with him and what to leave behind. It’s sad to think of Harry unpacking his trunk instead of preparing it for Hogwarts, stuffing in all of his books and ensuring he doesn’t forget any of Mrs. Weasley’s hand-knitted sweaters. It’s for real, guys: we’re not going back to Hogwarts this year.

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Oh Harry, you’re going to be so far from home. 😦

This chapter largely focuses on Dumbledore, and we’re given two strikingly different views of his life, although we clearly know which one is true (right??). The first comes from a tribute written by his close friend Elphias Doge in The Daily Prophet. Here’s what we learn about Dumbledore from Doge’s exposition:

  • He was a bit of an outcast when he arrived at Hogwarts due to notoriety surrounding his father, Percival, who had landed a lifelong prison sentence in Azkaban for savagely attacking three young Muggles. Dumbledore never defended his father or had any doubt that he was guilty. Instead, he entered Hogwarts determined to distinguish himself from his father’s transgressions.
  • Dumbledore more than succeeded in his aim of making a new name for himself. He openly supported Muggle rights while at Hogwarts as well as excelling as a student, winning “every prize of note” that the school had to offer.
  • He knew early on that he wanted to be a teacher and spent much of his time helping and encouraging his classmates, including Doge.
  • During his time at Hogwarts, Dumbledore regularly corresponded with Nicolas Flamel, Bathilda Bagshot, and a magical theoretician named Adalbert Waffling. He had articles published in Transfiguration TodayChallenges in Charming, and The Practical Potioneer. Is anyone else dying to read those journals, or am I just the ultimate nerd?
  • Although he was well qualified and poised to take the position of Minister of Magic, he had no desire to be part of the Ministry. It’s clear that wizarding politics are as corruptible as those of the Muggle world, but I wonder how things would have been different if he had worn the mantle of Minister during the events of the books. Would a defensive against Voldemort and the Death Eaters have been initiated sooner, preventing Dumbledore’s own death as well as countless others? I’m inclined to believe he was exactly where he needed to be, at Hogwarts with the Boy Who Lived. Besides, Dumbledore recognized that his desire for power was his weakness, and he probably did much more good at Hogwarts, isolated from temptation, than he would have at the Ministry.
  • His personality differed greatly from his younger brother Aberforth’s, who was a bit hotheaded and preferred to solve disagreements through dueling rather than friendly debate. Despite their differences, however, the brothers were friends. Doge suspects it must have been difficult for Aberforth to live in his older brother’s shadow, mentioning that even Albus’ friends were eclipsed by his fame, which draws an interesting parallel to Harry’s fame at Hogwarts.
  • Just after his graduation from Hogwarts, Dumbledore’s mother Kendra died, leaving him in charge of his younger brother and sister.
  • Just a year later, his younger sister Ariana died as well. Her death affected Dumbledore deeply, as he felt personally responsible for it, and it also caused a rift between him and Aberforth that lasted for many years.
  • Dumbledore went on to make several significant contributions to the wizarding world, including his discovery of the twelve uses of dragon’s blood (we know three of them from the books: a healing aid, oven cleaner, and spot remover—which brings me to the most important question of all: is Mr. Clean actually a Wizard?). He also made many important decisions as Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, although what those decisions were exactly is not known.
  • His duel with Gellert Grindelwald in 1945 is famously remembered as the greatest wizarding duel ever witnessed. None has matched it since, and those who saw it reported the terror and awe they felt as the two great wizards battled it out.

Harry realizes how little he knew about Dumbledore’s life before now and feels a sting of regret. Because Harry is our unreliable point of view, this is the first we’ve learned about Dumbledore’s background as well. We knew he was a great wizard who accomplished impactful things based on his interactions with Harry and what little Harry has learned about him from other sources, but this is the first time his emotions have come into play. We knew almost nothing about his family, about the effect of his difficult childhood and the loss of his mother and sister on his psyche, or about the toll that caring for his siblings at such a young age, instead of going off to discover his fortune like his friends, must have had on him.

Archived from J.K. Rowling's website: Dumbledore as Wizard of the Month!

Archived from J.K. Rowling’s website: Dumbledore as Wizard of the Month!

Next, Harry learns that Rita Skeeter has written an upcoming exposé on Dumbledore, which contradicts what Doge wrote and paints our headmaster in a less than flattering light, while also managing to attack Harry in the process. Here’s what her preview “reveals”:

  • Ivor Dillonsby had already discovered eight of the twelve uses of dragon’s blood before letting Dumbledore borrow his papers.
  • Grindelwald surrendered to Dumbledore and the duel never happened—Skeeter hyperbolizes that he conjured a white handkerchief from the end of his wand.
  • Harry is implicated in Dumbledore’s death—Skeeter says he was seen running away from the scene moments after Dumbledore’s fall, and she mentions that his testimony against Snape stems from a personal grudge.

Harry is expectedly furious, but he has bigger fish to fry, and there’s not much he can do at this point anyway. Skeeter’s exposé seems insignificant in the grand scheme of things, like an annoying itch that won’t go away. Harry is well acquainted with the Wizarding tabloids by now, and this is the beginning of book seven! Characters we love are going to die, emphasis on the plural. I don’t know if I can go through this a second time! Deathly Hallows is actually the only book in the series I haven’t read more than once, and there’s a reason for that—six of them, to be exact.

At the end of the chapter, Harry catches a glimpse of a light blue eye—identical to Dumbledore’s—in the shard of mirror that Sirius gave him. Checking it again, he sees only his reflection, but you can bet this little piece of information stayed in the back of my mind throughout the rest of the book, a pinprick of hope amidst everything that’s about to happen.

CHAPTER 3: THE DURSLEYS DEPARTING

Not much happens in this chapter, but it’s significant because Harry not only helps ensure the Dursleys’ safety despite their cruel treatment of him for practically his entire life, but he also makes amends with Dudley. In the previous chapter, Harry trips over a teacup that was left outside his door. He suspects Dudley left it there as a booby trap, but this chapter reveals it may have been a peace offering of sorts.

Harry’s relationship with Dudley has always been a typical childhood one between a scrawny kid and his bully. Not to say that there’s anything okay with bullying, but when it comes to the Dursleys’ treatment of Harry, Vernon and Petunia are the real villains. They can be blamed for Dudley’s behavior based on his upbringing and Harry’s in comparison. How else could Dudley have been expected to behave, when he grew up with parents who coddled him while endlessly berating Harry in front of him? It’s only after seeing Harry leave Privet Drive, taken out of the context of his mistreatment and viewed objectively, that Dudley finally sees what he did was wrong.

Dudley is the same age as Harry, which implies he’s matured a great deal. It’s normal for teenagers to remove their parents from the pedestals they kept them on throughout their childhood, and to begin to realize how their own thoughts and views might differ from what they’ve been taught. For Dudley, this realization comes with remorse and concern for Harry. We can perhaps assume that Harry’s rescue of Dudley from the Dementors in book 5 may have led to his change of heart, especially since Dudley specifically mentions it to Harry in this scene. Dementors can have a severe and lasting effect on a person, and I think they affected Dudley deeply.

It’s a touching moment, when Dudley tells Harry he doesn’t think he’s a waste of space. That moment is also an indication of the weight of everything that’s about to come. If Dudley understands it, then it’s bound to be some serious shit, you guys.

Dementors are the least of your worries now.

Dementors are the least of your worries now.

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The Half-Blood Prince, Chapters 29-30: “It’s mortal and stupid.”

You guys, I did so great on this reread. I didn’t even cry at all while I was reading Chapter 29. I got a little misty, but that’s it! I mentally prepared myself for the moment and stayed strong throughout.

It was these last two chapters that got me. Because the thing is, death isn’t sad. Death is natural, death is inevitable. It’s the loss that’s sad. The knowledge that you’ll never create new experiences with this person. One of the most real, most accurate portrayals of grief I’ve ever seen was in the Buffy episode “The Body” when Anya says, “I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well, Joyce will never have any more fruit punch ever, and she’ll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why.”

One personal story before we jump into the reason we’re all here: When I was five, my Grammie died. Her and my Papa lived around the corner, so we went there every weekend, I was very close to her. I remember hours and hours of playing with her while my parents and grandfather had “grown-up time” in the kitchen. She was more interested (or pretended to be) in playing doctor to stuffed animals, and it meant the world to me. My mom says that when my parents sat me down to tell me Grammie died, I asked two questions: “Why are your eyes leaking?” and “Can I go play now?” I didn’t understand what death meant, the word “dead” was just another word. I must have had a general understanding of the definition, because they say that the next time we went over to visit my Papa, I calmly wandered around the house, checked every room, then came up to them, shrugged, and said, “You’re right, Grammie must be dead, I can’t find her anywhere.” It wasn’t until a few weeks later that it hit me. My mom said we were walking up the front stairs, and I stopped and looked at the flowers Grammie had planted in the front yard and just lost it. I was crying hysterically. I was inconsolable. I guess it had finally hit me that she would never get to see those flowers again, and that “dead” didn’t mean “not here right now,” but “gone forever.”

And that’s sort of what these chapters are for Harry. He’s coming to terms with the fact that Dumbledore, one of the only constants in his life so far, is gone. Forever.

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The Half-Blood Prince, Chapters 3-4: Slughorn’s Pokewizards: Gotta Collect ’em All

I’ve got to go back read and comment on everyone’s post that I have missed. Participating in the comments section makes me feel like a part of the awesomest conversation ever and I’ve been missing out! My husband and I decided to move all of our belongings ourselves, with just a u-haul trailer, over the course of 2 weekends and any spare time we had. This, as you might expect, was a terrible idea, and the reason why I have not been very active on the website as of late. Also, I have no internet at home, so I’m writing this from my office, and without the benefit of wine. Just know that I still like you guys, and Harry Potter, and this re-read. You guys rock. Everything rocks. Except moving.

I can’t believe we are on Book 6. That’s insane. Just awesome, guys.

CHAPTER THREE: WILL AND WON’T

This is our first chapter back with Harry, but when it starts out, he is asleep, so we are basically floating around his room, judging the mess, picking through his belongings, reading his newspaper, that sort of thing. We can’t even read the entire article about Rufus Scrimgeour’s plans for Hogwarts’ student safety because it is obscured by Hedwig’s cage. The gist is clear. There’s a new sherriff in town, and he’s not a complete idiot like his predecessor. Bill Nighy, who plays Scrimgeour in the movies, will always be this guy to me, which is unfortunate when it comes to his role as stern-faced Scrimgeour:

If you really love Christmas... come on and let it snow

If you really love Christmas… c’mon and let it snow

I can never quite take him seriously. He is, however, taking the Voldemort threat seriously with his pamphlets and such. CONSTANT VIGILANCE!

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