Tuesday, July 16, 2019

#YearOfHarryPotter: Order of the Phoenix, Chapters 9-12

Last week, I read Chapter 9 ("The Woes of Mrs. Weasley"), Chapter 10 ("Luna Lovegood"), Chapter 11 ("The Sorting Hat's New Song"), and Chapter 12 ("Professor Umbridge"). I will spoil the ending of this book in this post.

The scenes that stood out to me most in these chapters are the ones that help the reader appreciate the weight of the losses of friends and family experienced by the members of the Order of the Phoenix during Voldemort's first rise to power. When Moody shows Harry the old photo of the Order and talks about the various ways those pictured lost their lives, it really puts Harry's own quest to defeat Voldemort into an important larger context. Likewise, the scene in which Molly faces a boggart which appears to her in the form of the dead bodies of her children drives home the long-lasting emotional effects fighting Voldemort has had on those who lived through it the last time.

I was also surprised by the fact that Ron was made a prefect. I remembered that Hermione was one, but had totally forgotten about Ron. He's my favorite character, so it will be interesting to see what other details about him have slipped from my memory. (I'm also really looking forward to "Weasley is Our King."

I also totally forgot that the reason Harry can see the thestrals is Cedric's death, and not Sirius's. Obviously I knew that Luna is in Dumbledore's Army, though, so I really should have realized that it would have to be this book that introduces her (and the thestrals), and not book 6. I've also always felt that it was a little far-fetched that Harry's parents' death wouldn't make them visible; it makes it feel like the thestrals were an afterthought and Rowling had to make up an explanation (see it here on Pottermore) about why the rules wouldn't apply the same to babies (and apparently also about why Harry couldn't see the thestrals right away after Cedric died, which really seems like a reach.) I like it better when the details feel like they'd been in place from the start of the series, and we just didn't know their significance yet.

Umbridge hasn't even done much yet, but at the first "hem hem" I felt my entire body tensing up in response. I absolutely love how effectively Rowling writes her, because I think she is the fictional villain I hate the most, and there is a certain amount of fun in hating her. I am preparing myself for the next set of chapters, in which Harry has his first detention with her. I can already feel myself becoming indignant on his behalf. Also, I love that McGonagall clearly disapproves of her. Any time McGonagall "breaks character" and sets aside her professorial persona, I eat it up.

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