30 June 2007

And now for something completely different...

I'm really enjoying this Harry Potter blog stuff. It gives me an excuse to write what I like to talk about only with fewer annoying interruptions ;). To Dan I have only one word: delusional. If you would like to know the reference, read the Leaky/Mug interview with Jo that occurred the day after the book came out. You might be better off learning to like Ron and giving up your Harry/Hermione dreams. In fact, I think I'll do a blog on ships and why they have to work out in certain ways...hmm...how kind of Scholastic to give me that prompt for two blogs down the road!

In the mean time, I thought I would post up a bit of my better writing from England (in my opinion anyway) as a kind of explanation for what we did there and what I actually learned. My first essay is much more structured. After this first essay I was told to do nothing but stream of thought writing-something I enjoyed immensely. Read what you will-I'll post up my next Harry Potter question later tonight. Keep in mind of course, that all these essays are highly unfinished and, in some cases, not really meant for much else but my own computer. Comments are, of course, welcome.

Essay 1:

Living in the Impossible

I am sitting on a park bench outside Wordsworth’s grave. By now I have been in England for a week and many things I gawked over and thought quaint right after I arrived are now a little more normal. Driving on the left side of the road isn’t a novelty. Rhododendron bushes full of bold magenta and scarlet flowers are still beautiful, but not as exciting. I still take pictures of sheep, but not with quite so much enthusiasm as I did a few days ago. I’ve grown used to the sounds of new birds and the smell of dung that occasionally permeates through the romance of the Lake District, and I’ve started to think that I will never be going home. Six more weeks seems like an eternity, and imagining myself in Utah studying for finals seems like some kind of dream instead of the reality it was ten days ago. Haven’t I lived here forever like a flower child wandering the parks and mountains in search of a muse for my writing?

Grasmere is, on all accounts, the stereotypical Britain I imagined after years of watching BBC’s Keeping Up Appearances with my parents. The houses have flower boxes. The pubs are called things like “The Kings Head”. The roads are narrow, winding, and lined with stone walls. Nearly every house has a garden with a rhododendron bush growing in the yard. Men with plaid caps and women with shopping bags-it feels like the town that didn’t grow up because it’s frozen in time like a postcard. Just when I thought that Grasmere couldn’t become any more stereotypical, a little robin lands on my bench, just inches from my arm. He’s a small, curious little thing. I can see his heart beating underneath his crest of red and dirty brown feathers. He stays on the bench for a minute or so, preening for me a little, then hops down on the ground. I smile at his cheek, and open my bag to pull out my journal to write about him. By the time I have my pen uncapped, the robin is back, this time clutching breakfast in his beak – a bug with legs still twitching in pain. I congratulate my little bird friend on his success and he leaves again after a small nod. I date the page on my journal – “4 April 2007, Grasmere, Wordsworth’s Grave” and the robin is back again, bugless and watching me with as much curiosity as I have given him.

Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of the Anne of Green Gables series, was once asked if Anne was a real character. In her journals she says that she hated to answer no to such a question, because she felt that if she did, she would turn around and see Anne staring at her because she felt so real. I feel the same way about the child that still lives in me somewhere. It is because of this that I slowly hold out my pointer and middle fingers for the robin to jump on if he chooses. I know he won’t, but I have to do it anyway. I grew up watching Mary Poppins sing duets with the red breasted robin at Jane and Michael’s window, and now I offer my company or risk feeling that I have let my child-like self down. When I was younger I would chase birds up and down the street, whistling and holding out my fingers, begging for them to land on my hand and give me a little more faith in magic. I do so now not for confirmation in magic, but because I half expect a scowl from a miniature version of me if I don’t. He doesn’t jump onto my fingers, but he doesn’t fly away this time either. I’ve intrigued him.

My little robin friend reminds me of another robin too. In the book The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgeson Burnett the snobbish Mary Lenox is charmed into civility in part through the friendship of a robin, who leads her to a key. The key unlocks a forbidden, half forgotten garden. I never had a secret garden or a robin for a friend, and I hope I was never as rude as Mary was, but I imagined myself into her shoes hundreds of times. I collected old keys and used to try and find the gate that they would open, even though most of the keys came from buildings that were long since torn down, or even across the ocean, since some of them had come from the grandfather of a friend of mine in South Africa. It wouldn’t stop me from trying. The older and more ornate the key was the better. I tried growing gardens too. Underneath the porch in the back yard of our home, I dug little holes and put seeds for carrots and peas in the ground to make them grow. I watched for weeks as the little shoots popped up out of the ground, but the poor plants were never destined for greatness. They didn’t reach anything past an inch out of the ground. I tried again with flower seeds. I tried again with little pellets of dirt I bought at the store where all you had to do was water them and you would have an instant garden, but I never met with success. Plants would see me and wither from fear.

It never mattered though. The withered plants made me sad for a while, and watching birds fly from me with fear did nothing for my ego, but the world I built in my head was better than any carrot root or a visit from a bird. In my imagination I could go anywhere and be anything I wanted. I could live in a world where anything was possible. I would fly to Neverland in my room and talk with hares over tea. I could be an Olympic gymnast or a renowned writer who made a difference in the world. I could be important. I could be something truly great.

It was seeing the robin hop around that reminded me of this feeling of infinite possibility. I remember my dream to fly both physically and metaphorically and mourn the loss of innocence that I experienced. It gave me logic and reason in place of imagination and dreams, and took away the belief I once had in myself and whether or not I will ever mean anything to anyone. Just as soon as I start to mourn the loss of my innocence I laugh at myself. Who am I kidding? I am still caught up in the world of innocence. I didn’t know what beer smelled like until I was eighteen. I am still na├»ve about many things most college students have known about for years. I am not simply caught up in that world, I sometimes embellish it for my own amusement. Hadn’t I spent the last week climbing mountains and pretending that it was Mount Doom instead of Ben Lomond? My world of imagination never really left because I never really wanted to give it up. If I did consent to giving it up, it would feel like giving up a part of myself that still believes I can be great.

I’m not as innocent as I was as a child any longer. I don’t believe that I can clean my room by snapping my fingers any more. I shut my window to Peter Pan a long time ago. I’ve stopped knocking on the back of every wardrobe and searching for rabbit holes. When I do find myself slipping into dreamland, however, I don’t think I’m wrong or unique any more. I think that most people need a bit of fantasy in their lives. The Lord of the Rings took the world by storm again when they were released as movies. The Harry Potter franchise has impacted more people than anyone ever would have thought possible. What is it about fantasy and dreaming that is so popular? Is there something in us that needs to dream? In one of his discussions on fantasy, J.R.R. Tolkien stated that “Fantasy remains a human right: we make in our measure and in our derivative mode: because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker”. Does not this desire to create magic also relate to our desire to create for ourselves? We dream of being great. We dream of being wonderful.

In the parable of the talents, it is the man who hides his talent in the ground that is punished. I used to find this depressing. Why is it that the man who is given least is punished? It wasn’t fair for the men given more to be given even more still. The poor man who received only one talent was being left out. But what if this parable also related to our dreams and goals and visions for ourselves? We learn in Sunday school that we are literal children of God, destined to be Gods if we are righteous. When we try to achieve easy ends, or when we decide not to pursue great things, are we not essentially burying our talents in the dirt? It feels like we are denying our own Godliness if we do not try to reach important goals. It feels like we are denying God’s ability to help us reach our dreams. Perhaps this has little to do with imagining magical lands through wardrobes and birds that sing in harmony with me, but it does relate to an old dream of being an author. Of doing something that is important in the world, and of being a person that is unique and significant to someone somewhere in the void.

I take a picture of the robin who poses obligingly on the end of my bench before flying off to find another bug for breakfast, or perhaps to meet an unrequited lover, or to visit another bench and another writer. Our group is getting ready to leave. I put my camera and journal away, still thinking about the bird and the pleasant wave of childhood memories I’ve just had. I think about what Wordsworth would have written if he had experienced what I did, or what he would have said if he could have read my thoughts. I think about robins and hiking and the hero’s journey and fantasy and how I’ve always felt so foolish allowing my dreams to take such hold of my way of thinking and dealing with life, and then I see the robin again. He’s watching me go. I change my mind. Why should I feel foolish? If I live in a world of impossible dreams, then I am opening up several hundred more possibilities by reaching for something that feels impossible. Living in the possible isn’t enough. It isn’t courageous to accept the mundane. It’s living in impossibility that shows us what we’re made of. I leave the garden with a backwards glance towards where the robin was as I left. He isn’t there.

Essay #2 (Selections)
DAY ONE: The night is dark and damp. We’ve just heard the poet Terry Gifford give us a wonderful lecture on how he constructs his poetry. Or rather, the rest of the group has heard Terry Gifford give a wonderful lecture on how he constructs poetry. I was in the kitchen making curry for dinner. The only part of it I heard was at the very end when he pulled out a folded book that contained a series of images he made while visiting Australia. Each page contained only one image. He challenged us to try doing the same thing, so I was on the watch for images. We turned down an alleyway. The street was completely empty. Lamp posts made pools of light on damp pavement. No-not completely empty. There is a couple on the walk ahead of us. The boys lead the group across the street so that we’re not interrupting their goodbyes. I hesitate because I’m curious. The man has his forehead buried against the neck of the woman. Was she taller than him? Was she wearing heals? I don’t know. It was strange. Then she kissed his forehead and I turned away, feeling like an intruder. Something about watching romance on a movie or reading about it in a book seems displaced compared to this scene. Kisses on foreheads are supposed to mean something related to comfort or the order of things because the forehead is higher than the cheek and the man kisses the forehead because he is the man and the woman kisses the cheek because she is the woman but not on this street. On this street the woman kisses the forehead and that’s how the relationship works. I wonder about their relationship and how the dynamic works. Arms and heads and whatever else intertwined the way things are it doesn’t seem like they could be unequal exactly. I see stars. I look for stars at night because I want to fly there some day and see that they really do exist even though science says they don’t but I know better. I know that stars exist because they are God’s. I know that on one of those stars is a place where new flowers grow and new buildings are built and sciences are different and people walk backwards and the animals are in charge. I look at the stars because they should give light but don’t. Starless nights aren’t much different to me than a night full of stars except one has the stars and the other doesn’t. There are so many songs about stars that make me sick and I hate thinking about them in sappy ways because it reminds me that I’m a girl and I like to be giddy but I don’t like to feel foolish so I embrace romance and push it away, like when I watch the couple on the street and then look away because I’m intruding on something that belongs to them and not to a bunch of American tourists. I’ve developed a fascination with tea and how it tastes after I take a sip. Peppermint leaves a taste like Christmas and Lemon Ginger leaves a taste like being sick at home even though I never drank Lemon Ginger when I was sick at home because my parents don’t buy herbal tea. I like the look of the liquid in the cup and wonder about how the tea bags are put together so that every single time I drink a cup it tastes the same even though the ratio of different spices probably changes and who came up with tea anyway? Or the idea for the wheel? Maybe God didn’t talk to Adam just about naming the animals or Joseph just about interpreting dreams but told them where to find tea and wheels and dogs that make good pets and cats that can be house trained. No-it was probably earlier than that. Wheels came before Joseph and after Adam and I don’t know about the tea except the Chinese are famous for it and the English drink it all the time and I drink it because I wanted to be more English and now I really like it instead of pretending to like I did when I was twelve.

Essay #3 (Selections)

I wrote a story once late at night the night before it was due on a blind woman who liked to garden. This story was completely anti-everything-I-do-in-fiction-writing because I tend to research things to death before I write about them for fear of screwing things up but I didn’t have time to research what it was like to be blind in more detail than I already had so I just made up most of it so that it sounded good. I needed a gimmick to bring out the sensory details in my writing and I needed a way to write a story without ever saying that she was blind and just letting it be figured out as it went along. It worked pretty well as a page and a half story about a woman who could smell the difference in colors of flowers. I don’t know if such a thing is possible or not. I don’t know if it matters though. Artist’s liberty. Harry Potter can make things fly with a wand, I can make a blind woman smell color. There it is. I love looking at the different colors. When we hiked to Tintern Abbey from St. Briavel’s Castle almost every green looked exactly the same at first until I really started to think about the colors and look at them and then I realized that, of course, as I thought I would be, I was wrong. It makes a really good cheesy metaphor about being unique or something but I won’t use it because the end is too obvious from the beginning. There’s no point in that. There’s no struggle for understanding or…whatever else it takes to get a good jaunt out of a metaphor. I wish we didn’t train ourselves to find so much meaning in everything. We spend so much time as English people hashing and re hashing stories to the point where we start looking for meanings and double meanings in everything because taking something at face value isn’t good enough for an essay but what if something is just fine at face value? One of these days I’ll hand in an essay that goes like this: “Pride and Prejudice is a wonderful romance,” and then hand it in without any explanation because it’s true and that’s just fine, isn’t it? Do we really want any more essays on how complex Darcy is? Is he complex? Or did years of over-analysis thrust complexity on him? What about Elizabeth? Does she really change? And what about how superficial it is that she sees Darcy’s metaphorical house and falls in love with him instantly? Does anyone look at the story from that angle? About how instead of being a romance, it’s actually about a money-hungry girl who takes Charlotte Lucas’ advice and turns into Lady Catherine version 2.0? Of course not. But then, someone probably has which means even that analysis is old and what’s the point of that? There’s nothing for it. So I will stick with my one sentence essay and go on enjoying things at face value every once in a while without the analysis if I can. I’m like a trained monkey.

Synthesis Essay:

“From the point of yonder rolling cloud I plunge into my past being and revel there . . . and I begin to feel, think, and be myself again . . . mine is that undisturbed silence of the heart which alone is perfect eloquence.” ~William Hazlitt

I came into this trip not feeling exactly secure with myself. I wasn’t unhappy with my life necessarily but there were things about myself that I felt were childish or stupid or probably could do with some change. There is a very strong part of my mind that loves to dream and imagine and pretend in a way that no one else does and I felt like it should probably change. At the same time though, I didn’t want it to change. I thought I should, but I didn’t feel any real urgency to do so because I like doing it. I like the way I think. Sometimes I feel bad feeling the spirit more in fictional books and metaphors that sectional writers come up with than when I read the scriptures, for example. But God will speak to me in ways that I am ready to listen and if that means that I can find God through books I read and movies I see or whatever other means I find him then so be it. I am unique but I am not wrong or strange. At least not any more wrong or strange than anyone else. I am still unhappy with some of my life, but not that part of my life.

“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” ~Genesis 1:31

“And out the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” ~Genesis 2:9

“For God so loved the world . . .” John 3:16

The Bronte’s were wrong. We talk so much about how we should separate ourselves from the world in the church. We should, in a symbolic way of moving away from the secular things that won’t bring us eternal happiness, but in another way, we should be very much a part of this world. God loves this earth. It is his creation every bit as much as we are. We might be greater because we are his children, but this earth is beautiful and it is his and there is no crime in loving the out doors. My mindset about being outdoors changed from the beginning of the trip. I’m not always keen on being outside, but there are times when I just need to be out and feel the sun on my face. I wish the states had a park system as they do here. I will have to hunt when I get home to find places where I can ‘be one with the gods’.

Phew. There it is. If you made it to the end I might make you brownies.

29 June 2007

Evil or not evil? That is the question...

Wow. Another lame title. But that's ok because I'm doing two posts in one day. Mostly out of boredom, but also out of a measure of excitement over Harry Potter madness! First of all-Dan-you hate Ron? Sad day! Why on earth would you hate Ron? I could understand a certain level of annoyance with his movie counterpart-one of the biggest flaws I see in the movie is the transformation of Ron from bearer of wizard culture wisdom to comic sidekick. But hate Ron? That's rather depressing.

I had some friends over tonight to join me in a bit of Robin Hood love from the BBC-(yes, I've continued my mission to corrupt others) and one of my friends declared that he has read all of book seven via some very clever hacker friends. Hmm. I think I'll echo Kuzco from The Emperor's New Groove here for a moment-"Riiiiight". Would Scholastic really be that ridiculous and easy to tap into? Or Bloomsbury? I doubt it. He kept going on about "oh...but I can't tell you that. It's in the next book", etc. Good gravy. People are so gullible around Harry Potter time. Last time the book came out I was working at B&N and had several very confused people ask me the difference between the regular and deluxe box set versions of the book-they seemed to think that the deluxe edition had deleted scenes or an alternate ending or something. I wanted to very rudely remind them that books are not movies and they don't have deleted scenes or alternate endings outside of the Choose Your Own Adventure world.

On to the next question, then!

Is Snape Good or Evil?

Good. Ish.

In terms of plot development, Snape has to be good or Harry has been right about him the whole series. If that's the case than it's a bit anti-climactic. If Harry's been right the whole time and finally proves himself right it's much more anti-climactic for his character development than if Snape is really good and proves himself, and Harry has to come to terms with it-it's another symbolic way that he would rise above the point his parents were at when they were killed.

Let's look at Snapes' track record. I'm really fond of looking at this via. the second chapter of book 6: Spinner's End. I'm using this chapter because Liz has already addressed this same question with my same conclusion using other text for back up. Let's break things down by looking at the chapter:

In the chapter Bellatrix and Narcissa show up at Snape's rather bleak house because Narcissa is worried about a promise that Draco has made. The promise is never fully explained, but we know that it deals with Voldemort. We assume that the task Draco was given is to kill Dumbledore (as seen later on in the book). Since this is never stated directly it's still in the strongly assumed category (unless Jo said it directly in an interview...I can't remember. Draco more or less confirms it in Chapter 27). That's not the point. Narcissa is worried because her son is headstrong and foolish (he's a teenager, in other words), and she thinks that Draco is in over his head. She doesn't think he'll be able to complete the task. She's come asking for help from Snape for a few obvious reasons: he's in a convenient position to look out for him as a teacher at the school, and she trusts him as an old friend. Bellatrix isn't so sure. She states forcefully that she does not trust Snape (US, 25). Snape asks Bellatrix why she doesn't trust him.
"A hundred reasons!" she said loudly, striding out from behind the sofa to slam her glass upon the table. "Where to start! Where were you when the Dark Lord fell? Why did you never make any attempt to find him when he vanished? What have you been doing all these years that you've lived in Dumbledore's pocket? Why did you stop the Dark Lord procuring the Sorcerer's Stone? Why did you not return at once when the Dark Lord was reborn? Where were you a few weeks ago when we battled to retrieve the prophecy for the Dark Lord? And why, Snape, is Harry Potter still alive, when you have had him at your mercy for five years?" (US, 25)

She definitely gives us something to think about. One interesting question to consider is not so much why did Voldemort trust Snape from the beginning, but why he still trusts Snape. Snape is never very clear about all of that in this chapter. He just says that the Dark Lord understands, that Voldemort shouldn't feel the need to share all of it with Bellatrix to pacify her...etc. etc. It's a bit cryptic. Especially considering how good Voldemort is at Legilimency. Snape must be really really good at Occlumency. And then there's the question of why Dumbledore trust's Snape-that's even more ambiguous (which makes it more exciting plot-development wise for Harry and crew to discover why it is! More proof!)

Anyway. I'm not going to detail the whole chapter. Snape gives counterpoints for each of Bella's claims. He suggests that Voldemort has asked him each one of these questions as well and has accepted his answers. He also says something rather interesting- "You think he (Voldemort) is mistaken? Or that I have somehow hoodwinked him? Fooled the Dark Lord, the greatest wizard, the most accomplished Legilimens the world has ever seen?" (US, 26). Well. That'd make for an interesting plot twist. Most of what he gives Bellatrix from this point on seems like relative truth (in the "from a certain point of view" way ala. Obi Wan). Where the conversation gets meaty is when he addresses the last part of her question-why he allowed Harry to live. Snape's been doing pretty well up to this point, but here his answer gets a little weak. He says that he didn't kill Harry because he is Dumbledore's favorite and killing him would put him into Azkaban. Really, Snape? Wouldn't killing any student put him into Azkaban? He also says that it was apparent that he (Harry) had no extraordinary talent. Now, we know that Harry, whatever he is, isn't Snape's favorite student but this is going a bit far. Snape knows that Harry is a good student. He's not the best, but he has already managed to thwart Voldemort four times in person-more than any other full grown wizard save Dumbledore perhaps, but even Dumbledore hasn't survived a killing curse-he competed in the Triwizard tournament, he can produce a coporeal patronus, he can withstand the Imperius curse-no. Even Snape cannot deny that Harry is incredibly talented in unique ways. (Dense perhaps at times, but that's what makes him human and interesting as a character). Harry is not, as Snape claims to Bella-"mediocre to the last degree".

A few questions then-

1) Why didn't Dumbledore give him the Dark Arts job until this year? Was it because of the curse? Because he knew it would bring out the worst in Snape? Because he wanted to keep him on staff as long as possible to keep a close watch on him and didn't want him in the cursed post? And why did he give it to him this year? My guess?: Because Dumbledore anticipated what was going to happen at the end of the year-he knew that his days were numbered. Snape is very talented in the Dark Arts and would be a good challenge to Harry's already high skills in what it would take to defeat Voldemort in the end (Snape is still teaching Harry in the end-he tells him that he must learn how to keep his 'mouth shut and his mind closed' to be any match in a real duel). I also find it interesting that what bothers Snape the most in that last confrontation is when Harry calls him a coward. Wow. That's a nerve.

2) How much about the situation did Snape understand during this scene with Bellatrix and Narcissa? My guess? Not at the beginning. He was probably just guessing. But with Narcissa in her weak, crying state-he may have perceived her thoughts through Legilimency. Perhaps Dumbledore thought something like this might happen and told him the correct action to take in such a situation?

Pay attention to the last two and a half pages. This whole unbreakable vow thing is ridiculously important. Snape's expression is so unreadable-so stoic here. Of the three things he promises-the last one is the one that gets him. His hand twitches and he hesitates in a way that he did not hesitate with the first two questions. He has no problem watching over Draco or protecting him-it's completing the task Draco's been given that worries him. Couple this along with the conversation Hagrid overhears and his hesitance on the tower and his anger at being called a coward and you have a veritable mess of proof to the contrary. Snape is good. Or on the side of good. As I said earlier, I think it's safe to assume that Snape will never be Godfather to any of Harry's children. He isn't likely to start nicknaming any of his children Severus, I don't think-but he is on the side of good, working for the same cause. It will be interesting to see how everything plays out.

So there it is. Snape is good. Joni is good. Joni is tired. Joni is going to go to bed.

It's a Wendy Bird!

Lame title, I know. But I was trying to think of something unexpected and happy (I hope) to kick off my first post in the aftermath of my England experience that was more interesting than what this blog is actually going to be about for the next little while: A place to write about my Harry Potter predictions (not without much bribery and tugging from the Liz corner). We had grandiose ideas about a tag team blog/discussion of sorts at one point when we were in Paris but the draw of the city and a bunch of museums was just too much, oddly enough.

Quick sum-up of the England experience: (I'm debating on whether or not it's worth trying to write about two months of experience in here or not. I think I'll just post bits and pieces from my essays)-Yes, it was amazing, no it didn't change my life, yes, it did give me some new perspectives on myself, yes I miss it, yes I would go back, no I wouldn't do it any time soon, yes I'm glad to be living out of a wardrobe again, no I don't miss the Metro, yes I do miss the tube, no I'm not married (that's for all the people in my ward who thought I'd have time to find someone on the trip *eyeroll*), yes, I enjoy being single, yes, I would like to publish the great American novel about England on the Fourth of July just for kicks.


On to Harry Potter. As Liz explains on her blog (if you read it through), Scholastic Publishing has posted a series of questions for people to answer in poll form leading up to the publication of the seventh Harry Potter book next month. The polls themselves are a bit ridiculous. For example, at last count, Voldemort still had 73% (ish) of people convinced that he was going to live. In fact, his was the lowest. Meaning that roughly 73% of people don't think anyone is going to die in the next book (including those in the "other" category). This is, of course, absurd. Jo has told us repeatedly that people will die in this book. Dare I use the word delusional? However, the questions spark decent blog posts, so they aren't completely worthless. I'm not sure how I plan on going about this, but we'll just run with the feeling for a while.

So without any further ado, I proudly present:

Who will live and who will die?

Harry Potter:

Does there really need to be a debate about this? Sigh. Alright. Here we go: As the hero of the story, Harry kind of has to live for the story to work. The journey of a hero is represented by a circle. Harry enters the journey with the death of his parents who don't complete their journey because they are killed before they are able to break the chain. Harry must break free of this pattern or the story ends where it begins. That's a lot of ink/paper/time wasted to end up where you started. Yes, I know Jo has said that Harry could die but-let's be honest-would anyone have considered that possibility if she hadn't brought it up in the first place? Noooooo...she started that rumor and we've all lapped it up like thirsty dogs. Well, I haven't. But lots of people have. Harry has to win in the end because, as Dumbledore has said, the greater challenge is in living, not dying. Harry's greater challenge will be in finding a way to live after all this is over. I will say one thing for the Harry dying theory-if anyone can find a way to pull this off and make me believe it, it's Jo. I trust her as a writer to make me believe that if he does end up dying, it's the only way it can work.

Lord Voldemort: Dead. Dead. Dead.

Here's another one of those 'duh' questions. Seriously. Does anyone really have a good reason for Voldemort to live? The whole point of the series is to destroy him. If he's not destroyed then we've wasted a lot of time and money on a franchise.

Ron Weasley: Live(ish)

It's almost against my better judgment to mark Ron as a 'live' but I'm going to. A strong part of me says that of anyone in the trio has to die, he would be it. It's half-foreshadowed in the chess match from book one that Ron will pull the self sacrifice card. It's hard to believe that everyone in the trio will live. All the same though, I'm going to mark him as a live because I don't know that Ron's death would do anything for the plot. What is there to be gained in the metaphor with Ron dying? I don't know. It would be sad of course, but I don't know that it would do anything. Besides that, there's been a bunch of Hermione/Ron build up and stopping it short would make it all kind of wasted. And it would be nice for the trio as a whole to break the tradition of James/Sirius/Lupin/Peter-in dying. (Well, for two of them. Or three. I'm still waiting for Peter to kick it).

Hermione Granger: Live

If I'm struggling to find a point in killing Ron, I'm struggling even more to find a point in killing Hermione. She's the source of knowledge and wisdom to the trio-Ron's death would at least be symbolic. Killing Hermione...no. Just no.

Ginny Weasley: Live

I agree with Liz on this one. Jo has said many times over that Ginny is a very powerful, clever witch. She's Harry's equal in many ways-they've both been put through similar tests over the years. If you parallel the Cho/Cedric and Ginny/Harry storyline, Cho became the weepy (annoying) left over girlfriend to the dead Cedric-Ginny's too strong for that (and so is Harry, for that matter). No-Ginny's storyline has just begun. It wouldn't make any sense to kill her now. Not after introducing her and promising some great things from her. Plus. She has to marry Harry and have lots of cute red headed children. (And they can, you know-if Harry carries that red headed gene from his mother. Isn't it so nicely set up?!)

Neville Longbottom: Dead. More than dead.

Face it, he's a gonner. His death would fulfill the same purpose as Harry's since their lives are paralleled in so many ways. Yup. Neville's done for. Poor kid. He'll build up though and go down a hero. Take down Bellatrix. Do his parents proud. Then move on to the happy little corner in the sky reserved for people like Neville.

Luna Lovegood: Live

Again, where's the point in doing away with Luna? She's not vital enough to die, really. She's a more ethereal form of Hermione-she provides different kinds of wisdom. She's like a less grounded version of Galadriel. She'll help Harry come to terms with people who do die and go on to be a really great Quidditch commentator for the Wimbourne Wasps or something.

Hagrid: Die

I'm going to disagree with Liz and say that Hagrid could die. I mean-my ratios are a little off. I've got most of the main people living and someone has to go-so Hagrid could work. He's the last of the mentors (except Lupin but I'll talk about him in a bit). One of my friends pointed out something about the order in which Harry met people compared to the order they die in-he met Hagrid, then Dumbledore, then Sirius, then Cedric, and then Cedric died, Sirius-etc. I would contend that the theory has a flaw-well, he technically met Sirius earlier than this, and if you don't count that, then Harry "met" Cedric before Sirius through Quidditch-and even then the theory feels really contrived. Harry meets lots of people. All the same though, Hagrid's death could be somewhat symbolic. Ok-all these reasons are lame. I could see Hagrid living too. I'm saying that he'll die mainly to give myself a main character cushion. Because they can't all live, and Hagrid is a nice option for death. I'm heartless...

Dumbledore, Sirius, Cedric, Harry's Parents, all other dead people: Still dead. Check.

Snape/Malfoy: Livead

Here's where I've got a little wonderment going on. I don't think they'll both die. They would both be faced with a similar challenge to Harry in living after all this is over. If I had to pick right now I would say Snape would die and Draco would live (since he's kind of on the anti-hero's journey-the failed journey), but ask me again in five minutes and I'll change my mind. There is redemptive power in one of them turning to the good side and then dying, but it goes the other way as well. So I'll mark them as Livead because they could go one way or the other and still serve a good purpose for the message Jo seems to be working towards. And while we're talking about baddies-even if they live they won't be godfather to Harry's children any time soon. All those people who think that the entire wizarding world will hold hands and sing about perfect harmony with some coke after all this is over ...they're nuts.


Lupin and Tonks will live and get married and be happy (Lupin has to live for sake of carrying on the legacy of Harry's father and crew-another one of those 'break the trend' things). Other various members of the Order have to die-maybe Mad Eye will finally kick it. Kingsley. Someone we know about/care about for sake of emotional drama. McGonagall could die. A few other Hogwarts teachers. A Weasley or two (my vote is on Molly-maybe a twin-Percy). Papa Malfoy is dead. Bellatrix is dead. Greyback is dead. Moaning Myrtle is already dead. You know. Death dying destruction.

Coming soon: other answers to more pressing questions! Ohhhh boy...