Monday, May 27, 2019

#YearOfHarryPotter: Goblet of Fire, Chapters 20-23

I really loved this week's set of chapters: Chapter 20 ("The First Task"), Chapter 21 ("The House-Elf Liberation Front"), Chapter 22 ("The Unexpected Task"), and Chapter 23 ("The Yule Ball"). Spoilers ahead!

The cheating in the Tri-Wizard Tournament continues as the first task gets underway, and I have to admit that I found this annoying. It's one thing for Hagrid to clue Harry in to what the task is, or for Harry to let Cedric know what it is after realizing it will level the playing field, but why is Bagman trying to give Harry help on his way out to meet his dragon? The "cheating is a traditional part of this tournament" explanation strikes me as lame. But at least Harry has the good sense to say no, though I do question whether he would have done so if he hadn't already come up with a plan.

Ron and Harry also make up after Ron realizes how dangerous the first task actually is. I loved this line: "Ron's indignation on his behalf was worth a hundred points to him." For all his flaws, Harry does recognize the value of a good friend. Harry also dismisses Rita Skeeter's desire to have a word with him in a way I appreciated. He says, "Yeah, you can have a word. Goodbye." No, this is not how fourteen year olds should speak to their elders, but it is absolutely how I would deal with a reporter like her.

Hermione's crusade for house elf rights also continues in this section of the book. I always find myself skimming those sections, but it was fun to see Dobby again, and to hear him and Winky speak a bit about their former masters who were Death Eaters. This same chapter (21) includes a lot of great one-liners that really highlight what adolescent boys find funny, without resorting to vulgarity, which I appreciate.

As happens in each book, this one provides a reason for other students to stay at Hogwarts over Christmas so Harry is not just alone. This time it's a reason for everyone to stay: the Yule Ball. This event provides the catalyst for Hermione and Ron's first argument surrounding their slowly growing feelings for each other. Ron is so believably clueless about the idea that Hermione might want to be his date, and when he gets around to figuring it out, he can only bring himself to point out that she's a girl. His reaction to the fact that she went with Krum is also age appropriate and appropriate to his personality. I also love that Krum pronounces her name "Herm-own-ninny."

There are some really good subtle clues in this book hinting at things to come. One that I especially love is the fact that the Secrecy Sensor and Sneakoscope keep whistling in Moody's office. "Moody" explains this away by saying that it's  because so many students are lying about their homework and such, but of course, it must really be the fact that this isn't Moody at all, but the imposter. Another great one is when Dumbledore mentions taking a wrong turn on his way to the bathroom and discovering a previously unknown room full of chamber pots that he has since not seen again. This has to be the room of requirement! I love that Rowling lays such a careful groundwork for this series. It really rewards re-readers!

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