My Week with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Part 6

Harry_Potter_and_the_Half-Blood_Prince_(US_cover)Spoilers are ahead. I say this again: SPOILERS ARE CONTAINED IN THIS POST OF ALL THINGS HARRY POTTER.

Following the events from Order of the Phoenix, Harry’s name is cleared, and Hogwarts is liberated from the Ministry of Magic’s control, thus, allowing Dumbledore to do what he does without surveillance. If only that were all true.

Replacing Cornelius Fudge is Rufus Scrimgeour, a more competent, militant man who wouldn’t hesitate to exploit an enemy’s weakness or use others for his own gain (of course under the premise that it’s for the ‘greater good.’)  Scrimgeour is arguably the Commander in Chief we need to fight Voldemort’s army, but in the Harry Potter universe, the Ministry, i.e., the government, is not what will save the day. Even Harry Potter, the ‘Chosen One,’ isn’t necessarily stopping the onslaught of Death Eaters. The man with contingency plan who has a contingency plan for his contingency plan is Albus Dumbledore. He’s been looking at the bigger picture probably since learning of Tom Riddle’s diary and its significance. At long last, we learn that Dumbledore has been researching and locating magically charged objects called Horcruxes. While Harry’s been scrapping by in surviving Voldemort’s attacks, Dumbledore’s been on the offense and trying to find the Horcuxes to kill Voldemort.

Even with this narrative introduced, we know nothing about Dumbledore, of his family (though I sometimes think he just poofed into existence), marital status, travel destinations, etc. And Harry, despite seeing Dumbledore as a paternal/role model, doesn’t ask a lot of questions about his mentor. There’s certainly something to be said here about Harry’s relationship with Dumbledore. It’s definitely not a two-way street, even though we are lead to believe they have a unique friendship (I was originally going to say special but that sounds creepy, and it’s definitely NOT that.) It’s true Dumbledore takes Harry under his wing, but we can only infer as to why. We can’t assign any term to describe their relationship other than the teacher/professor relationship, but Harry doesn’t fully realize this until the end of the novel, hitting Harry almost harder than Dumbledore’s death itself. The mystique of Dumbledore enchants us and is the main reason he’s such a beloved character. Hogwarts, which in itself is beloved, appears as the only place he’s attached to. What is Hogwarts without Dumbledore? It’s a haven for so many children, even once for Voldemort. Dumbledore’s characterization has so far been the most unusual since we haven’t learned anything actually about him, but we do manage to glean things from his interactions with others. What we really know about Dumbledore is what people think of him.

Here are a few additional thoughts on Half-Blood Prince:

The Discourse on Horcruxes:

The purpose of Horcruxes is to grant immortality by having a wizard or witch affix their soul to an object. They’re considered Dark Magic for two reasons: splitting a soul involves committing murder; having a broken soul leaves a magic user unstable and dangerous. Although most of you reading this already know what Horcruxes are, there’s a lot left out from the conversation, such as, what happens to the wizards and witches (Aurors), when they kill? Are their souls forever broken? Based on characters such as Mad Moody, Lupin, and Dumbledore, it’s hard to tell.

Rowling offers a nuanced discussion on the act of murder and its effects. In no way does Harry Potter approve of murder or its varying degrees. Half-Blood Prince suggests distinctions, however. Damaging the soul beyond repair requires a severe act of malice, which seems to imply killing the innocent or defenseless. While this idea makes sense, the finality of death and the irreversible consequences, I have to wonder if the criteria should take into account other acts like sexual assault and torture. I would think these would qualify, but this isn’t what this conversation ends up being about.

Horcruxes symbolize both a person’s hubris and sin, as in the divine kind governing most our morality.  I can see why they’re considered so dark. They’re basically trophies of someone’s irredeemable acts.

With That Said…Voldermort is an idiot

I feel like I need to write this in print one more time: Voldermort. Is. An Idiot.

Voldermort is the poster child of allowing his ego to encumber his rational-decision making. I’m well aware he’s less human now, but he’s leading an army and overtaking the Ministry, which, to his credit, displays some level of intelligence. Some.

But why would attach your soul to famous relics and heirlooms? Just…why?! His journal makes sense, but if I wanted to keep staying immortal, I would secure my soul to the most obscure object as possible…like a pen or a bookmark.

Did he, the most hated ‘man’ in the universe, think that this could just be the worst idea ever conceived? Did achieving immortality turn the lights off in his head? Horcruxes themselves are not invincible and you paint an even bigger target on them when they’re extremely well- known!

Maybe he’s lost some of his motor function from his days as Tom Riddle from splitting his soul into seven, but this just feels, all around, a haphazard plan.

This is exactly the problem with having too many yes men; there’s nobody with the bones to stand and say, ‘That’s ill-advisable, My Lord…Might I suggest a spare button instead?’

The Half-Blood Prince’s Book:

By far, this was my favorite part of the book.

I love books that have been written in them. It’s the main reason why during undergrad that I bought all my books used– not to mention, how economically affordable they were compared to the new copies. Including this in Half-Blood Prince was quintessentially my book-nerd fetish.  I honestly don’t know why more people don’t write in their books.

Let’s Talk About Ginny:

I admit, I wasn’t sold on Ginny at first.

Her appearance in the film is partially responsible. I saw her in the second film as a little girl obsessed with Harry Potter. She was also being mind-controlled by Voldemort. The next time she shows up? The sixth film. What?? Where in the world was Ginny Weasley in three, four, and five?

She was, of course, at Hogwarts, sometimes hanging out with Harry, her own friends, or with the boyfriend of the week (which I loved!) Ginny has a separate life outside of Harry’s, and unlike Hermione for Ron, she isn’t pinning for Harry. She’s dating, checking out her options (but surprisingly, this advice was given by Hermione???)

Ginny’s athletic, talented, and sharp when it comes to pointing out bullshit too. I thought, ‘where has this character been all this time?’ She’s always been there and adds a great dynamic to the already brilliant women in Harry Potter. Growing up in a house full of boys has taught her well.

Other things…

There is so much that goes on in Half-Blood Prince—Draco Malfoy’s reluctance in killing Dumbledore, Lupin’s commitment issues, Percy’s estrangement, Professor Slughorn’s regret, Ron’s vapidness—that discussing each one would be a blog in itself. I will say this: Half-Blood Prince presents what feels like a deliberate set-up to a finale. In comparison to the previous books, Half-Blood Prince is open-ended and thematically ties in with The Deathly Hollows–but that would leave our eyes dry and I think the overwhelming blood bath in the Deathly Hollows plus Dumbledore’s death would lead to a riot.

Most of what I want to discuss is unfinished. I just have to wait until I’ve finished the final book to formulate some lasting opinions.

My Week With Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Part 5

download (3)Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix surprised me. I’ve known that as the series progresses that the books would become darker and more mature; yet so far, the ambiance of the books have only felt subtle like how a frog would feel as the water slowly starts to boil.

Phoenix ostensibly stages everything like it has in the previous four books. My first thoughts were a semblance of guttural sounds. Everything felt so normal when it shouldn’t, not after what happened in Goblet of Fire, and for several minutes, my thoughts sputtered and my own stamina waivered. To tell you the truth, I almost quit reading. My thoughts were perfectly aligned with Harry’s: Didn’t anything happen???

Then Phoenix takes a sharp turn away from the monotony of Privet Drive and the Dursleys. Harry is attacked out in the open. Muggles are harmed. Dementors are no longer playing on the Ministry’s side.

This is exactly the kind of thing I expect to happen after Voldermort’s revival, the significant interruption in the status quo. What I didn’t expect was the extensiveness of the lunacy of the entire Ministry of Magic. I knew, but the films don’t inform you quite the way Phoenix does. It’s not just about preserving peace; it’s a power play.

Phoenix exceeds my expectations. It’s by far the most politically charged and antagonizing book out of the Harry Potter series. So many players are introduced and reintroduced in a new way (Professor McGonagall and her ability to stand her ground for instance.) We’re also witnesses to Fudge’s campaigned against Dumbledore, the monitoring of information and media (although it’s no Hunger Games), the restriction of speech, and the attempt to indoctrinate archaic, out of date practices. There’s a lot we could critically analyze: an anti-government sentimentality to the subtexts of Nazism. All these ideas, while have been building over the course of four books, are heavily pronounced in Phoenix, which as a post-English major, I truly love.

Putting the political criticism aside, Phoenix explores further into the heroism of Harry Potter. By now, Harry has experienced multiple life-and-death situations and witnessed tragedy firsthand (and later on.) He’s so alienated from the people around him. And why is that? Because he’s special—since he was born. He is, after all, ‘The Boy Who Lived.’

A lot of what made Harry Potter famous in the wizardry world is his miraculous survival when Voldemort attacked him with a killing curse, which subsequently severely crippled Voldemort and lead many to believe Voldemort had perished.  As a result of this, Harry was considered a hero for defeating the Dark Lord, and Harry, who was nothing but short on luck, has not lived a normal life.

Harry notes on several occasions how people first look at his lightning-bolt scar before regarding him. His legend overshadows even himself. He wants people to see him for what he is beyond his hero status—or so I thought. Harry, despite what he says, does the opposite when it comes to people being in danger, proving later to endanger the people around him and himself. This is a consequence of being crowned a hero when he was only eleven. While we could argue that Harry didn’t ask for any of this, we see Harry repeatedly put himself in danger often with the reason: who else is going to do it but me? But the truth is, there are many people who could do it and Phoenix exemplifies this when Harry learns that Sirius Black is in danger and he, along with his Scooby-Doo friends, rush to save Black. He thinks there’s no one that can help when there was.

It’s not that no one can help, but Harry feels the need to insert himself and save people regardless of the consequences. It’s a nice idea, ideal even, but it’s also not normal and more messed up than we realize.

Phoenix gives us a better understanding of who Harry Potter is. He’s certainly a hero just trying to do what’s right, but this sense of righteousness stems from his own feelings of guilt. His parents were killed protecting him. Ginny Weasley was mind controlled by Voldemort to get to Harry. Cedric Diggory was killed in cold blood by Voldemort. And with the death of Sirius, Harry’s anger explodes. It’s not that Harry just feels guilty for everyone’s death, he feels guilty for living, being the only one to survive. It explains a lot about his character and his savior complex. He’s someone who shouldn’t be alive but is. What else is he supposed to do except to try and give his life unconditionally?

In Phoenix, there’s less glory and more of the stigma attached to being Harry Potter. The transition from the golden boy to supposed nut case was really interesting to read. In our culture, we often glorify heroes, and overlook the darker aspects.

Here are my other thoughts about Phoenix [Yes, there will be more Spoilers ahead]:

Dumbledore’s Mistake:

Dumbledore is revered among the wizardry community for not only his magical prowess but his fortitude and gumption. Dumbledore has a clever retort or counter spell for everything. Up to this point, I couldn’t believe that a man of his caliber would fall—until now.

I understand Dumbledore’s purpose in keeping Harry at a distance. Even so, if Dumbledore was purely thinking strategically, he’d easily use Harry to his own devices and possibly feed Voldemort wrong information. Dumbledore had the advantage, but he didn’t take it.  He was reluctant, and he’s been holding back this entire time, which includes information he held back from Harry.

Dumbledore considered Harry a child who needed rescuing despite Harry experiencing many things that children don’t normally see.

It’s interesting that Dumbledore views this as his weakness; yet I cannot think of anything more valuable than compassion, as it sometimes feels like there’s a paucity of it.

Sirius Reliving His Glory Days:

There’s a real knife in the heart when reading Sirius’s last year alive. He’s forced to live in a stuffy, moldy house. He can’t help any of his other comrades for fear of exposure. His communication is cut off from Harry. He’s traded being a prisoner in Azkaban to being prisoner in the Order of the Phoenix’s headquarters.

He’s a tragic character who’s had to endure the most. Losing his best friends and then being trapped in Azkaban for thirteen years, Sirius wilted into something almost unrecognizable. He was anxious and willing to gamble with his and Harry’s safety. His brain is rattled from years of trauma and isolation that when he was finally killed, I was ambivalent. It was sad when he died, but I was also relieved; he wasn’t living but existing.

The aftermath of Sirius’s death is also so tangible. Harry can feel nothing but removed, isolated. He can only feel his emotions searing him, over and over again. Phoenix  doesn’t end with him miraculously cured of grief but with it occasionally throbbing and resurfacing like blisters. It’s not all brooding. Harry does find some solace after speaking with Luna Lovegood (loooove her, btw). The moment lets him breath long before the drowning sets back in.

Blood Magic. The Mystery is Revealed!

If you’ve been following my series, one of my biggest complaints has been that Harry’s friends continue to send him back to his physically/emotionally abusive relatives. This was egregious, one of the things I couldn’t forgive.

But as it turns out, Dumbledore piggybacked (or so I understand) off the love-spell of Harry’s mother and imbued the Dursley’s house with the ultimate protection spell, sealed and enacted by Petunia’s blood. As long as they’re living there, the spell is in effect and can keep Voldemort from killing Harry. (If I’ve misunderstood this, please let me know.)

I’ve always thought that Harry possibly had more relatives. I thought it was strange that Dumbledore knowing full well that putting Harry in the care of the Dursley would be a mistake, considering how much Dumbledore cared about the Potters. Now that the reasons has been revealed, Dumbledore really didn’t have a choice. It was the best protection he could give Harry.

There’s so much more to discuss (two pages worth that I had to take out of editing) but I’ll leave you with a picture of my adorable Corgi Archer. Have a great Halloween everyone!


My Week with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Part 4

Harry_Potter_and_the_Goblet_of_Fire_(US_cover)Warning: There are most definitely spoilers ahead of you.

Turns out, there are other magical institutions in the universe of Harry Potter with foreign relations held together by the thinnest of threads.

Goblet sets up kind of differently (Dursleys, again…) but shapes out differently than the previous three books–and I’m not referring to its deadly tournament.

There are more conversations had behind closed door that are intentionally kept secretive. As more adults and members of the Order trickle into the story, we begin to see how much is really being withheld from us. There’s more to process in Goblet as more and more things are exposed about Harry, Voldemort, and the Ministry of Magic.

Here are some of my bundled thoughts:

Just how much influence does Albus Dumbledore have?

It’s believed that Dumbledore is the only one with the potential to defeat Voldemort, but I have to wonder just how many people Dumbledore has recruited, or rather, people who owe him favors. This is best represented in the concealment of Sirius Black. For Sirius to travel and not be caught, there must have been an exhaustive amount of efforts to get him to Hogwarts, and I just don’t think Sirius has enough pull on his own or connections in the outside world to help him.

There’s a very real reason why the Ministry of Magic fears Dumbledore, and it’s not just for his crazy powers (which I can’t wait to read more about.)


I want to go on record here: I hate love triangles.

I loathe when an author employs this convention in a piece of literature, and it so often finds room in the Young Adult genre. The girl is torn between two equally but crazy hot guys with polar opposite personalities. She spends the entire time back and forth conflicted on which one she ‘loves’ and eventually but painfully makes her choice. And while taking her time to make said decision, she (or him) hurts a lot of people in the process. Someday I’m going to compile a list devoted to things I wish books would stop doing. I’m happy to say Goblet doesn’t resort to this when Viktor Krum is introduced into the mix.

Goblet takes advantage of its character, Rita Skeeter, a reporter interested only in writing for entertainment. Her articles work as a beautiful form of satire, a side commentary on the litany of love triangles and how ridiculously time-consuming and monotonous they are. Goblet has all the potential to become this: KrumxHermoinexHarry, HarryxHermoinexRon, GinnyxHarryxHermoine, KrumxHermoinexRon, HarryxChoxCedric. Harry Potter could have easily turned into an episode of School Rumble, but it doesn’t.

With bigger problems obviously ahead, the characters, although their involvement with said other party members is a source of contention, does not interfere with the overall story or suddenly turn any of the characters into a deflated balloon.

With that said, am I really supposed to believe that Harry and Hermione don’t have any feelings for each other? At all..?

Compared to Ron, who refutes and knocks Hermione down a peg or two every chance he gets, Harry treats Hermione with respect and consideration, more charming in my opinion than a guy being mean to you, which in our culture somehow translate into masculine affection. It makes no sense to me.

SNAPE IS THE BAD GUY, uh, right?

If I had a nickel every time Harry and Ron surmised that Snape was plotting Harry’s death…

It’s interesting how everything seems to loop back to Snape. He’s always the first one Harry and Ron suspect that, at this point in the series, you can’t take their accusations seriously; yet, this boomerang effect feels so planned that you would think that the clever Hermione would have already discovered the truth (but teachers aren’t people, they’re concentrated nuggets of goodness!)

There’s a reason Snape is involved in almost everything. Either coincidences are as abundant as rabbits or Snape is intentionally inserting himself into these situations.

The funny part is Harry has the tools he needs to discover what Snape could be doing. If he truly suspected that Snape was out to get him, he could easily take his Invisibility Cloak and camp out in Snape’s office or potion supplies closet (as far as I know, there are no secrets charms or protection spells but feel free to let me know). It wouldn’t take much. Just wait long enough and eavesdrop on one of his conversations.

This might just be one of those times where it just slips Harry’s mind.

Background Checks:

After going through four professors of the Defense Against the Dark Arts, one would think that conducting an investigation into your professors would be prudent. For all the things Hogwarts is, their Human Resource department is haphazard when hiring Hogwarts’ professors. The Divination Professor Trelawney doesn’t seem qualified to predict anything, let alone expect her own students to predict the scope of their lives (but hey, every school has a blow-off class.)

If anyone had insisted that Mad-Eye Moody answer a few basic questions, because Google is not a thing in Harry Potter, a lot of things could have been avoided and lives saved.

Bad Reception:

The biggest mystery is resolved! Finally!

I’ve been closely following the story to piece together if Harry Potter occurs in a time before the internet and cellphones or if it’s purposely being left out. The films never covered it. As it so happens, the effects of magic negate technology! And I’m perfectly content with this explanation!

My next question: If you’re a wizard or witch, does possessing magic make it impossible for you to use technology…? I’d still think that some of those kids would have a cell on them considering it’s still faster to call someone versus an owl (although not as cool, I admit.)

To be continued…

Cedric Diggory:

Cedric embodies many admirable characteristics a champion should possess, and it’s his perfectness, his eagerness to do right by others and be selfless, that foreshadows his tragic, untimely death.

Even though Cedric’s death feels so catalytic, at the same time, I struggle with the lack of subsequent remorse. For all intents and purposes, Cedric was Harry’s rival; his competitor, and the root of Harry’s envy. He was many things but a friend.

It could be I’m overlooking this, but I really didn’t know Cedric. The only Cedric I see is Harry’s version, and while Cedric’s affability and heroism is attractive, it’s consequently something that dehumanizes him, which makes him feel less real to me.

I know many have wept pearl sized tears at the death of Cedric, and I do sympathize at the fact that he was too young and innocent to be taken, but I think I’m more sad at how much we can look at someone, feel like we know them and then not really know them once they’re gone, also one of my favorite type of stories.


My Week With Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban: Part 3

Harry_Potter_and_the_Prisoner_of_Azkaban_(US_cover)I’m finally at the point where the books and films begin to diverge—quite a bit actually—and the discussion of intertextuality and film adaptation is a topic that I’ll save for a later time. With that said, I’d still like to share some of my thoughts.

Less Harry-Centric:

Mentioned in part one of this series, the films are Harry-centric, i.e. the films operate in a way that if it doesn’t directly involve Harry, sub-plots go by the wayside. Thankfully the books are not like this. Azkaban happily includes the other characters. Yes, those people Harry calls his friends who apparently have lives of their own. Go figure.

Admittedly I prefer some of the other characters over Harry, not that I dislike the character, but I have a hard time relating to him.  He’s ostensibly popular with everyone he meets, famous for no other reason than surviving Voldemort’s attack, and he’s the equivalence of a jock with being a Seeker on his Quidditch team. For me, I’m the polar opposite, although charming. I gravitate towards characters like Ron and Percy, but especially can relate to Hermione, singled out mostly for her interests, her intellect and book appetite. She’s misunderstood more often than not and tends to work herself too hard (punctuated heavily in this book.) Needless to say, Azkaban, so far, is one of my favorites for the series shifting from away from its Harry focus plot and elevating the roles of its supporting characters.

Harry and the Dursley:

I. Don’t. Understand. This!

I’m just confounded that at the end of each book, Hogwarts, Dumbledore, the Weasley Family, McGonagall, and even Hagrid do not call child services!

Everyone seems aware of Harry’s situation, that he’s being horribly mistreated, yet every time the topic is brought up, everyone acts as if the treatment from Harry’s Muggle family is benign, appropriate, even funny (because it’s SO hilarious having an Aunt and Uncle who treat you like an air-borne virus and who lavishly shower their obnoxious nephew.) I reach the end, tricking myself that all’s well that ends well, until just like Harry, you remember the Dursley.

James, Sirius, Lupin, Pettigrew:

I know there are several characters’ stories that could easily be a novel in itself, but am I wrong to think that these four characters would be a really interesting read?

Azkaban extrapolated more of the past of Harry Potter’s parents and their friends, and, for me, there is something about this group that piqued my interest immensely. Part of it has to do with their shenanigans, but I also think it would be fascinating to read these men’s friendships form and develop. I mean, what happens post Hogwarts? Only Lev Grossman’s The Magicians comes to mind, but even still, it doesn’t quite satisfy my curiosity.

Snape’s Tormented High School Days:

To someone who was bullied during middle school through high school, I get it. I do. But Snape is the personified version of what happens when you hold onto those grudges.

There is certainly a part of me that feels bad for Snape—but this is mostly canceled out by his tenacity to believe anything Harry Potter does is insidious and wrong, albeit Snape does tend to be 85% right in his assumptions. Harry is usually up to something, but this doesn’t give Snape the right to threaten Harry with expulsion from Hogwarts,  his haven away from his verbally abusive family.

I’d like to think as time ages us, we would learn to let go of the past and be better people overall (optimistic, I know.) Snape is the antithesis of this. He’s just not a good person. At all. I say this even knowing his friendship with Harry Potter’s mother. None of what he does should be considered acceptable, even if it’s for a noble cause.

The Hormones are Coming!

It was subtly hinted during the final Quidditch match with Harry and the other Seeker that the feelings are coming. I am hoping that the books handle the emergence of young adulthood and fair better than the films did. I don’t suspect it to be a seamless transition. I expect it to be just as jarring as your first flat tire, bumpy and abrupt. But what I would like to see is a genuine interpretation that doesn’t tantamount to emo-nesque and boy lulled eyes. After all, it’s Harry Potter, and there’s certainly more going on than teenage romance.

My Week with Harry Potter. . .and the Chamber of Secrets: Part 2

HP-Chamber-of-SecretsIt should go without saying, this post will contain some spoilers.

Sometimes the books I’m reading can eerily coincide with issues going on in the real world.

Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets sets up the main overarching pillars for the upcoming books, establishing the rift between pure-blooded and half-blooded wizards and witches. The disparity between the two groups is nearly nonexistent in the first novel, and for the most part, remains an antiquated subject among the younger generation of wizards and witches.

Secrets reflects the current status quo of the magical community coexisting alongside the muggles, aka, the non-magical folks. Its society has adopted acceptance and tolerance toward muggles and muggle-born wizards and witches, but in addition to this world, ignorance is perpetuated when it comes to the children actually discussing racial issues. It’s not to say that Secrets doesn’t address these issues, calling attention to derogatory terms such as ‘mug-blood,’ or leading with the overlooking threat of death to half-blooded wizards and witches. But Secrets displays the problem with having a perfunctory mindset among the younger generation in combating racism, a problem that still exists today.

Noted in Slate’s article, while the younger generation, Millennials, appear more tolerant and in favor of promoting equality across varying ethnic groups, there seems to be a distinct lack of discussion of countering racism, other than to just ignore it and hope the problem will resolve itself over time. This standby approach has egregiously morphed into a real concern. The aggregate efforts of educational institutions in encouraging the equal treatment of others are more preventative and instead don’t address the racial conflicts at hand. They have essentially not been taught how to talk about racism and discrimination in our world, subsequently, inventing a misleading notion that racism doesn’t exist, when it clearly does and isn’t going to be solved simply by waiting for the older generation to die out. The roots of the problem are deeper than that.

If we take a hard look at the children in Harry Potter, most of them will fall in a category believing that racism is an obsolete, misguided ideology, and who can blame them? Most of them were still sporting diapers and still learning to crawl before they heard the name Voldemort, the series’ iconoclastic antagonist. Afterwards they were prohibited from uttering his name by the adults, who would only allow the children to get away with saying ‘you-know-who.’ Sound familiar? In this context, the children are not equipped to combat racism and discrimination because they simply don’t know what a world of racism and discrimination is like; they didn’t live in a world like their parents had to endure, and to some extent, still do. They’re not being taught to deal with the problem; they’re being conditioned to avoid it.

Characters such as the Malfoys exemplify the problem that arises from racism: simply ceasing all conversation about it will not discontinue other people from instigating racial acts and committing horrific tragedies. Racism is indoctrinated, producing a culture invested in oppressing its people, measuring one’s capability on the color of their skin, and ultimately, committing travesties of mass murders. Being unaware and avoiding the problem is not a solution but a form of procrastination with terrible ramifications.

I could offer up to you how the Defense Against the Dark Arts position is a game of musical chairs and that background checks go by the wayside at Hogwarts, that a bullied dead girl haunts the bathroom for shits and giggles, that the Weasley family is the kind of family that I wished I always had (but smaller), but that would be missing the main point.

It’s about time we have a serious conversation about racism and do something about it.

Other Thoughts about Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets:

  • Severus Snape:

The movies have plentifully spoiled his dark knight role for me, but I have to say, while keeping this in mind, it has somehow enhanced my reading experience. Snape has become more cryptic to me. Every twisted smile or sneer is so convincingly ruthless that I can’t help but wonder if there’s not a part of him that enjoys harping on Harry and making his life miserable.

  • Basilisk:

I’m supposed to believe that neither Snape or Dumbledore weren’t percipient enough to conclude that the monster was a basilisk? If Dumbledore already suspected Tom Riddle and knew Hagrid wasn’t responsible (the guy was expelled from Hogwarts and made a Gamekeeper—because that’s so much better???) then, why does Dumbledore not overturn the previous Headmaster’s ruling when Dumbledore himself eventually becomes Headmaster of the school, or at the very least, reinstate Hagrid’s magical privileges? Poor Hagrid!

My Week with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer Stone: Part 1

Harry Potter Book 1Until a couple weeks ago, I had never read any of the Harry Potter books. While I’ve missed out on some noteworthy books, Harry Potter seems to be one of those books that book readers feverishly insist you read—like right now, not To Kill a Mockingbird, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or even, sure, The Bible. These books and others like them, despite being groundbreaking and distinguishable, paragons of literature, are highly recommended, but for some reason, Harry Potter is different; it has had an effect that no one could have anticipated.

I didn’t when I first heard about it in 2005 (analyze my living-under-a-rock another time.) It was about the time Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released. Around this time, I remember the lunch room being as silent as a graveyard for a couple of days and then voices booming days later. It was the book everyone was reading and gabbing about it. I couldn’t wrap my head around it, which, of course, is due in part by my obstinate teen-self unwilling to try or do anything remotely popular or affable. So I missed the allegorical train to Hogwarts and tried very, very, hard to avoid the fandom, which, of course, wouldn’t happen, not with eight movies being released, Pottermore, and subsets of geekdom leading the way.

Harry Potter became universally known—its story and characters were treated as common knowledge, with the phrase ‘*spoiler*’ not popularly coined yet. Other then some arcane knowledge only hard-core fans would know, I picked up a fair amount, which was the problem. The more I knew about the story, the more deterred I was to read all seven books. It would be The Hunger Games conundrum all over again: reading the book after watching the film. The movie was so fateful to the original source that it made my reading it trite and slightly redundant. And after watching all eight Harry Potter movies, I wasn’t eager to invest my time in reading seven books—books, I might add, that seemed to grow longer as Harry gets older. So I put off reading it with no actual intention of reading it (shameless but true.) This didn’t stop people from trying to get me to read it, however. As I mentioned earlier, the Harry Potter readership is an uncanny thing, especially when it comes to converting convincing others into reading the series, from browbeating to peer pressure tactics. There’s also my favorite: ‘because it’s Harry Potter.’ This is not to say every fan is like this—but it was the overwhelming response I got from the ones I encountered.

Then I had mentioned to a coworker who’s an avid book reader himself that I hadn’t read it. He shrugged and said he’d lend me his copy, which he brought in the next day. I reluctantly accepted with already a glut of books on my to-read list. I didn’t think I had time to read it.

Subsequently, the book I was reading that day I had left at home, and my study materials were also coincidentally at home too. Spending my lunch hour perusing Facebook didn’t appeal to me very much (it rarely ever does,) so I started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer Stone.

And I really got into it.

The excessively hyped Harry Potter has been lauded as brilliant, genial, and whimsical, words I thought were phlegmatically used to describe it. While I don’t think it’s the book of the century, it’s actually pretty interesting.

In spending little less than a week reading the first book, it’s a modicum of nostalgia for adults and kids and a source of comfort, the main reason so many kids and adults turn to it when they’re beside themselves. While the book contains several side stories besides Harry’s—a nuance from the Harry centric-film plots I’ve noticed—it’s a celebration of every character, making most of them more substantial and sympathetic than mere caricatures. It’s not perfect though. Its antagonists and villains are transparent and lack the same multifaceted characteristics as their counterparts, but I try and keep in mind that it is a Children book. I expect the bullies and naysayers to be provincial. As the books mature and segue into Young Adult, however, this should change.

Although I’ve read the first book out of the series, it has so far been delightful, and I’ll continue to chronicle my impressions and thoughts instead of reviewing it. To me, it just doesn’t serve any purpose, as Harry Potter is already substantiated with a surfeit of its own reviews and criticism. I’m interested in analyzing why Harry Potter remains culturally relevant, and what makes it mostly known for defining a generation, aka, my generation.