Monday, March 25, 2019

#YearOfHarryPotter: Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapters 8-11

Once again, this week it was difficult to tear myself away from this book after I'd finished reading the week's assignment, which was chapters 8 to 11: "Flight of the Fat Lady," "Grim Defeat," "The Marauder's Map," and "The Firebolt." (Lots of spoilers in this post, for this book and later ones.)

One of my favorite things about this book is that it begins to introduce all of the backstory leading up to the death of Harry's parents and the key figures in Harry's life who are later revealed to be members of the Order of the Phoenix. I think the relationship between past and present is one of the strongest elements in this series, and this book feels like the beginning of the real story Rowling wants to tell.

I was especially drawn into the relationship between Lupin and Snape. Having read to the end of the series, I have such love and empathy for Snape, but his behavior when he must cover Lupin's class due to "illness" is pretty cruel. Even if he disapproves of a werewolf teaching at Hogwarts, it seems really over-the-top to discuss werewolves with Lupin's class, almost as though he is encouraging them to figure out the truth about their teacher's illness. I guess some of this is due to the fact that Snape suspects Lupin of helping Sirius Black, who Snape believes betrayed his beloved Lily, but sometimes it is just hard to reconcile the Snape of book 7 with the Snape of the earlier books.

As for Harry's overhearing that Sirius Black is his godfather, I found that whole scene kind of far-fetched this time around. Knowing that that bombshell was coming allowed me to focus my attention on how the information is delivered, and it didn't quite ring true. It doesn't seem consistent that McGonagall would be discussing sensitive information like that in public on a day when she knows the students are in Hogsmeade. Even if Harry himself is not meant to be present, Ron and Hermione and plenty of other Gryffindors (not to mention nosy Slytherins!) are around to overhear. This is the only time in the series so far, where I feel like Rowling inserted a scene solely for the opportunity to give us a bunch of exposition at one time.

The other thing of which I took special note is Hermione's reporting to McGonagall that Harry received a Firebolt from an anonymous benefactor on Christmas. I've really been on the lookout for instances when these characters do dangerous things and get away with it, but Hermione really does the right thing in this situation, even though Harry is very annoyed with her. As Dumbledore says in the first book, "It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” Hermione's willingness to go against Harry's wishes in order to protect him is admirable, and her good instincts are the kind of thing I won't mind seeing my kids emulate.

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