With the penultimate novel in the saga—Half-Blood Prince—we know that things must become much worse before they can become better and reach resolution in the seventh and last novel. We should thus expect that it will be chilling in unmatched fashion, and I shall argue that it’s the scariest of them all! Let’s take an eerie walk through the dark corners of Half-Blood Prince, to places seemingly devoid of light or hope . . . .
For a while now, I’ve been thinking about what the Harry Potter series might be able to teach us about justice. What does justice mean? How should it be carried out? One of the reasons I started thinking about this was because I assisted with a course at Boston University this semester on Restorative Justice, which is considered to be an alternative to our current justice system.
Our current justice system is rooted in something called Retributive Justice, which is punishment-based. So if you murder someone, you get punished in proportion with your crime, usually by going to prison. Hence, an accidental killing gets less time than a premeditated crime because the premeditated crime is seen to be more duplicitous and therefore more punishable.
Or here’s a more concrete example, and I know it’s a sensitive one for me and for others: When Osama bin Laden ordered the September 11th attacks, our country responded with the understandable response: He killed our people, therefore we will kill him. (This event, alongside the course I mentioned above, was actually the reason I started thinking about justice and Harry Potter because I think that, for those of us in the United States, at least, bin Laden is the closest equivalent to Voldemort we’ve had in this millennium).
Rather than go through all the events of this chapter, which continues the events of the previous one, I’ll hit on some highlights, because I know that Severus Snape will be the biggest focus of discussion.
We have a tour down Memory Lane, with the anguished and tearful Percy laying “across Fred’s body, shielding it from further harm,” refusing to let go of it, just as Harry refused to let go of Cedric’s body when he returned it from the graveyard. The chapter also includes spiders again, this time carrying Hagrid off to the Forbidden Forest, and Dementors and Voldemort in communion with Nagini in the Shrieking Shack.
“Saturday … at nightfall,” repeated Voldemort. His red eyes fastened upon Snape’s black ones with such intensity that some of the watchers looked away, apparently fearful that they themselves would be scorched by the ferocity of the gaze. Snape, however, looked calmly back into Voldemort’s face and, after a moment or two, Voldemort’s lipless mouth curved into something like a smile.
The eyes fastening, the others looking away, and Snape’s calm response all suggest that Voldemort is in the habit of regularly performing Legilimency on every one of his Death Eaters, every time they bring him information. This says a few things to me: (1) Snape was a tremendous Occlumens; (2) Snape was in incredible danger every moment he returned to Voldemort; (3) Dumbledore was right not to divulge his entire plan to Severus. Continue reading
Chapter 29 of our Half-Blood Prince Read-Through is brought to you by Arabella Figg!
Shock and grief define this chapter’s mood. In addition, we have three betrayals that took place before Dumbledore’s death on the tower.
We don’t get a Dumbledore denouement in Half-Blood Prince, but we still get a book-ending data dump in the hospital ward and Headmaster’s office, as the characters deconstruct the evening’s events.
As we move alchemically from white to red, moisture continuously flows—tears, blood, sweating, and ointment. Silver-haired Phlegm’s frozen expression upon seeing Bill melts in a red-hot passion as choleric as that of any Weasley. Rubedo elements abound: a lot of Hagrid, the Weasleys, Gryffindor rubies, bloody Bill, Gryffindor’s sword, Rufus Scrimgeour, battle blazes, and recounted wounds. In the heard but unseen presence of red and gold Fawkes throughout, and Dumbledore snoozing in a golden frame in the Headmaster’s office, there is promise. Continue reading
Our next guest post comes from Arabella Figg! ~ Travis
This is my first post here, and what a chapter to work on! So, no metaphorical Dung Bombs, please. (All page references are from the American edition.)
Sectumsempra could well have been titled Truth or Consequences, as deceit plays the starring role. Moreover, two events we’ve long-anticipated—a confrontation between Harry and Draco, and another kind between Harry and Ginny—occur.
The chapter begins with good news—Katie Bell’s return and the Ron/Lavender and Ginny/Dean breakups, Harry can now pursue Ginny, but fears Ron will disapprove; is he right (Ron has previously indicated how he would feel)? He returns Katie to the Quidditch team, displacing Dean who has played most of the year; was this fair? Continue reading
Some sound issues with this one, mainly my voice getting louder and softer, depending on where/when I was recording. Next podcast, I’ll be trying a new mic set-up, and if it works, sound should be crystal clear with no background noise.
â€œWhen one wizard saves another wizardâ€™s life, it creates a certain bond between them â€¦ and Iâ€™m much mistaken if Voldemort wants his servant in the debt of Harry Potter.â€
â€œI donâ€™t want a bond with Pettigrew!â€ said Harry. â€œHe betrayed my parents!â€
â€œThis is magic at its deepest, its most impenetrable, Harry. But trust me â€¦ the time may come when you will be very glad you saved Pettigrewâ€™s life.â€ (Prisoner of Azkaban)
If this isn’t a set-up for something big happening with Pettigrew and Harry in Book 7, I’ll eat the Sorting Hat. Continue reading