Tuesday, August 6, 2019

#YearOfHarryPotter: Order of the Phoenix, Chapters 20-23

My latest reading assignment in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix included Chapter 20 ("Hagrid's Tale"), Chapter 21 ("The Eye of the Snake"), Chapter 22 ("St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries"), and Chapter 23 ("Christmas on the Closed Ward").

There is lots of great stuff packed into these four chapters, a good portion of which I had forgotten since my last reading of this book. First, there is all the background about giants. I did remember that Hagrid's mother was a giant, but not any of the other details about where they lived, how they decided not to help Dumbledore, etc. I also didn't remember how awful Dolores Umbridge was during her evaluation of Hagrid's Care of Magical Creatures lesson. I think that scene actually made me angrier than the one with Trelawney.

This section of the book is also a huge emotional rollercoaster for Harry, which is in keeping with the overall angst readers often complain about in this book. Cho kisses him, which prompts Hermione to inform Harry of all the complicated feelings his crush is likely experiencing as she grieves Cedric and thinks about dating Harry at the same time. Then Harry has a vision of Arthur Weasley being attacked wherein Harry sees the attack happen as though he himself is participating in it. This experience, along with some comments he overhears from Order members, causes him to wonder whether he is the weapon Voldemort is hoping to use to aid his rise to power. Dumbledore continuing to avoid looking at him or talking to him only makes this belief seem more plausible.

These chapters also introduce the wizarding hospital and Healers, which, Ron is quick to point out, are nothing like doctors. It's interesting to see how Rowling sets up the medical world within her universe, and the scenes set at St. Mungo's also allow us to see both Lockhart, which is kind of funny, and Neville's parents, which of course is much more somber.

The one bright spot in these chapters is Sirius's enthusiasm for the Christmas celebration. Knowing as all re-readers do that this is his last Christmas makes this especially bittersweet. I also really love Ron's immaturity about Harry's crush on Cho, and his utter lack of subtlety in all things. He's such a realistic fifteen-year-old boy, and thankfully, he's not nearly as angsty as his best friend (at least not in this book...)

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