^ Hari Potter aur Paras Patthar –
Harry Potter in Hindi
Like most of the reading world, I await with bated breath the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final Harry Potter book. In a moment of pure self-indulgence during my last US trip, I bought Mugglenet.Com’s What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Falls in Love and How Will the Adventure Finally End.
This recounted some details that had escaped me in my repeat readings of the books (or that had been let slip in J.K. Rowling’s closely-parsed interviews, lovingly recorded on Mugglenet.com), and is clearly the result of hundreds of people putting far too much mental energy into someone else’s fantasy world. As a work of collective escapism, it’s breathtaking. (NB: I have nothing against escapism!)
But I don’t agree with many of Mugglenet’s conclusions, which are based on carefully-sifted clues logically extracted from what we know of Harry’s mythical, magical world, with little or no consideration for literary qualities. I’m not particularly good at (or interested in) literary analysis, but I have been reading an awful lot of all sorts of literature for about 40 years now. Following my instincts as a reader (and writer), I feel that certain things have to happen for reasons of literary symmetry or completeness or balance or something – not sure what to call it, but, well, that’s where the story is going, and any other outcome just won’t work as well. Mugglenet’s predictions don’t seem to take this literary dimension into account at all.
A clue that Mugglenet seem to have missed is the books’ biased viewpoint. Although the narrative voice in the books is the omniscient third person, this is (probably deliberately) misleading: the story is told almost exclusively from Harry’s point of view. There are very few scenes in the books to which Harry is not a witness, either directly or via the Pensieve. (Only two such scenes come to my mind right now: the one between the Minister for Magic and the British Prime Minister, and the one where Snape takes the Unbreakable Vow in the beginning of "The Half-Blood Prince.")
This means that everything we see in the books is interpreted through Harry, including his assumptions about people and their feelings and motivations. And he’s a teenage boy with a difficult past and his own points of view and prejudices – not a particularly reliable narrator.
The Filmic POV
I also wonder whether Mugglenet have taken into account the additional clues offered in the films. We cannot treat these as completely separate, Hollywood-ized renderings of the story, because Rowling herself has been so closely involved in all of them. We must therefore assume that she has had a lot to say about the cuts in scenes and even characters that have been necessary to bring her books to the screen. Any scenes or creatures from the books which have not appeared in the movies, we can assume to be non-essential to the final outcome.
The movies have added as well as removed elements. While the scenes themselves still mostly involve Harry, the film audience is outside of Harry’s head, able to observe for ourselves how others interact with him, and draw our own conclusions about their real feelings and motivations.
We know from other sources that some of what we see onscreen is based on information we may have not yet read in the books: while the first movie was being filmed, J.K. Rowling had private conversations with Alan Rickman (Snape) and Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid) in which she gave them key information about their characters which had not yet been published, which she felt should inform their performances. The public doesn’t know what she told them – Rickman and Coltrane were of course sworn to secrecy – but we can make some inferences from what we see on the screen.
I herewith present my own theories about some of what’s going to happen in Harry Potter 7, primarily to document them publicly in advance so that later I can say: "I told you so!"
Harry Will Kill Snape
This will probably occur near the end of the book, after Harry spends hundreds of pages trying to track Snape down to exact revenge for the deaths of Dumbledore and Harry’s parents. Only when it’s too late will Harry realize that he was wrong: Snape, while not a pleasant person, has been acting in Harry’s best interests since Harry was a baby. Why? Well, he loved Harry’s mother, Lily. He may even have made an Unbreakable Vow to protect Harry after he discovered that the information he passed to Voldemort about the prophecy had put her in danger.
In the books it seems clear that Snape hates Harry and takes every opportunity to torment him. But keep in mind the biased point of view (Harry’s) mentioned above: it’s easy for a teenager to over-interpret everything he sees, especially with a teacher he hates. What I see on the screen is far more ambiguous: there are even flashes of affection in Rickman’s performance, though this goes unrecognized by Harry.
Ginny Will Be Important
…and not just as Harry’s girlfriend and dream of a possible happily-ever-after. She’s the seventh child – and only girl – in a powerful wizarding family, she has had six older brothers to deal with, and she’s a redhead. I can’t help feeling that all of this is significant. And the books, for balance, need a female character who is as strong and active magically (as a metaphor for physical strength and action) as the boys are. Hermione’s intelligence is critical to the story in many points, but intellectual strength is a different matter altogether.
It has been repeatedly stated throughout the books that Harry’s parents were both strong at magic, and were full partners in the fight against Voldemort. I suspect that Ginny is not going to be content with sitting on the sidelines for her own protection, and will prove that she can take care of herself while fighting beside Harry against the Death Eaters.
Ron Will Be Betrayed by His Hunger for Money
I don’t know exactly what will happen or how bad it will be, but there have been too many hints since Book 1 about Ron’s bitterness at his family’s relative poverty. Something’s got to come of that much foreshadowing.
Rowling Will Surprise Us All
I’m not certain of any of the above, of course. No matter how much I or others may imagine we know or have guessed, I am confident that Jo Rowling will outsmart us all. And I can’t wait to see how she does it.
What do you think will happen?