Thursday, May 16, 2019

#YearOfHarryPotter: Goblet of Fire, Chapters 13-16

This week's chapters were: Chapter 13, "Mad-Eye Moody," Chapter 14, "The Unforgivable Curses," Chapter 15, "Beauxbatons and Durmstrang," and Chapter 16, "The Goblet of Fire." This post contains spoilers for this book as well as the whole series. 

As I was reading, I took a few notes. The first thing that gave me pause is Professor Trelawney's ignorance of when Harry's birthday is. Harry has been a celebrity since he was a year old. It seems unlikely that even someone as loopy as Trelawney would think his birthday was in the winter. Of course, though, Tom Riddle's birthday is in December, which is probably the real significance of her mistake.

I also noted that, in that same scene, there is a joke about Uranus (pronounced "your anus"). I didn't remember there being this kind of humor in this series, so that was a bit disappointing.  I haven't allowed my kids to read any books with poop/toilet humor in them yet, but I do want them to read this series, so I guess it's in their future. 

Another thing I was thinking about when I was reading is how free members of the Hogwarts faculty are with their feelings of dislike toward the students. Though I know the character that is presented as Moody for most of this book is an impostor, it's still shocking that he gets away with turning Malfoy into a ferret. Snape, too, gets away with frequently treating Harry like garbage, and that also strains credulity. It is clear that McGonagall disapproves of Moody's tactics, but the fact that there isn't further discipline for Moody seems to serve the plot a little too neatly. Seems to me, McGonagall could have "ferreted" out the impostor right then and there. At least Snape has the sense to be wary of him. 

The chapter in which "Moody" introduces the unforgivable curses for the first time was my favorite of these four. This is the first time we really understand the darkness of the evil side of the wizarding world, and the fact that Harry and Neville have to witness someone casting the spells that harmed their respective parents just adds to the gravity. I also didn't remember that "Moody" explains that it isn't enough to simply say "Avada Kedavra" in order to commit murder. I've often wondered how that works with spells in this universe, and it was good to be reminded of the rules.

Finally, I was just impressed by how much of the lore of this series I have assimilated over the years. I can remember historical details, family connections, and magic spells better than I can recall most things I was taught in high school. I'm not sure if that's a positive thing, but it does show that if I care about something enough, I'll learn everything there is to know about it. 

This set of chapters ended on the perfect cliff-hanger moment, just when Harry's name has come out of the Goblet of Fire. I am eager to get on with the story and look for the clues that might suggest that Moody isn't who he claims to be. I bet there are a few! 

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