I finished with my fifth annual Harry Potter re-read very late Friday night (stayed up until 4 AM!), but Hogwarts, Harry, Hallows, and Horcruxes are still at the top of my mind.
On a side note, I am listening to The Casual Vacancy currently. It actually took me a few minutes to remember that Harry Potter and The Casual Vacancy were written by the same person. Not because they're so different (although they are extremely, extremely different), but because I'd forgotten that anyone wrote Harry Potter. It feels so real when I'm reading it that I forget that it's just words on paper.
Here are a few more questions to ponder for this week:
*These questions are much more in depth than last week. Also, they contain a lot of spoilers for the series, but I'm assuming everyone who is reading this has read the whole series.
If you missed last week's post, check out the first set of Harry Potter Questions to Ponder!
1. Dumbledore did, in a way, raise Harry up like a pig for slaughter. But in the end, how much do you think Dumbledore cared about Harry?
I think Harry started off as a means to an end to Dumbledore. When he first came to Hogwarts, he was merely an idea. Dumbledore surely had plans of what he hoped Harry would do, but he had no idea what kind of person Harry would be. Harry inherited his father's bravery and mischievousness, but not James' youthful arrogance and meanness. Dumbledore quickly grew to respect and care for him. That didn't stop Dumbledore from setting up a plan that implored Harry to sacrifice himself, but how else could Harry's future have worked out? If Dumbledore tried to protect Harry for his entire life, Harry would have walked around with a giant target on his back. Instead, Dumbledore helped him prepare to meet Voldemort as an equal.
I think Dumbledore saw Harry as the son he never had. I think he loved Harry more than anyone other than his family. Notice how overjoyed he was when Harry arrived in King's Cross in Deathly Hallows. And how he felt ashamed yet happy that Harry now knew him for all his faults. Dumbledore may have led him into great danger, but he never stopped helping or teaching Harry. He was there as a source of comfort and wisdom.
2. How do you think Snape truly felt about Dumbledore - and vice versa?
I have a hard time deciding how much Snape cared about Dumbledore. I think he revered Dumbledore, as many people did. He thought Dumbledore could protect Lily but then realized he was still the best hope of getting rid of Voldemort. Over time, I think he truly came to care about Dumbledore - as a mentor, father figure, perhaps even a friend. When he is trying to trap the Resurrection Stone curse threatening Dumbledore's life, he is "furious:" 'Why, why did you put on that ring? It carries a curse, surely you must have realized that. Why even touch it? ... If you had only summoned me a little earlier I might have been able to do more, buy you more time!' This passage is fascinating, not only because it indicates that Snape does not want Dumbledore to die, but because he speaks to him as an equal. Later on, he screams at Dumbledore, 'You take a great deal for granted, Dumbledore! Perhaps I have changed my mind!' I can't imagine Professor McGonnagall employing the same level of familiarity or allowing herself to lose control of her emotions. I don't see anyone treating Dumbledore as a mere human aside from Snape in this series.
I wonder whether Snape's feelings toward Dumbledore changed when he learned that Harry had to die. That all his efforts to protect Harry were really meant to raise him like a 'pig for slaughter.' Just before Snape killed Dumbledore, 'Snape gazed for a moment at Dumbledore, and there was revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines of his face.' Was he horrified that he was being kind of forced to kill his mentor or did he hate Dumbledore for betraying Lily's sacrifice? I think there might have been a little of both there. Snape of course didn't know that Dumbledore hoped Harry would ultimately survive; surely, he thought that Lily would never have wanted this. But I also think that Snape didn't want to kill Dumbledore or anyone. Dumbledore asks him 'How many men and women have you watched die?' With what seems like great emotion, Snape responds, 'Lately, only those whom I could not save'...He stood up. 'You have used me.' Killing goes against the moral code that Snape grew after Lily died (an admittedly thin moral code, but hey, he didn't kill anybody).
It is interesting that Dumbledore trusted Snape (almost) completely, when he trusted virtually no one given Snape's history as a Death Eater and a superb Occlumens. My guess is that Snape was so overwrought at the threat to Lily's life and her eventual death, that he was incapable of Occlumency so Dumbledore was able to know that he was being sincere. I wonder if Dumbledore asked Snape not to employ Occlumency against him so that he could continue to know that he was sincere. Perhaps it wasn't necessary.
3. What parts of the series make you cry?
I inevitably sob at 4 points. In Book 4, when Harry's parents come back in Priori Incantatem. In Book 5 - not when Sirius dies - but when Harry goes up to Nearly Headless Nick so filled with hope that Sirius will come back as a ghost only to be devastated again. At two points in Book 7. First, when Harry turns the Resurrection Stone and Lily, James, Sirius, and Remus come back. Especially when Harry talks to Remus about his son. Then, in King's Cross when Dumbledore walks toward him: 'Harry...You wonderful boy. You brave, brave man.' I'm tearing up just typing it.
4. Whose death do you think was the saddest?
They were all tragic, except for Voldemort and Bellatrix. Fred's death is in some ways the saddest because we knew him so well - even better than Sirius and Lupin - because he was a peer of Harry's.
But Snape's death is the saddest to me. It was so pointless. Certainly not the only pointless death in the series, but it struck me. Snape wasn't fighting, Snape wasn't resisting, Snape didn't pose any immediate threat to Voldemort. Voldemort killed him out of his greed for power. And unbeknownst to him, it didn't even accomplish anything. Snape never controlled the Elder Wand.
5. If Voldemort hadn't killed Snape when he did, how do you think that Snape could have gotten Harry to learn his story?
Snape's death was necessary to the story. It just wouldn't have worked as well if he'd survived. Still, if he had...I think he might have lured Harry into the truth with the Doe Patronus. Or if necessary to remain in character in front of the other Death Eaters, he might have caught Harry and acted as though he was delivering him to Voldemort. That would have been hard to work, since Harry would logically resist believing Snape in such a position.
6. Do you think Snape would have been happy that Harry named a son after him?
I go both ways on this one. Snape hated Harry. Every time he looked at Harry, he saw evidence that the love of his life had chosen another man. The fact that it was his childhood enemy was another twist in the knife. Even if Snape had survived, I still think he would have hated Harry. He wouldn't have wanted anything to do with James's grandson. But then again, Albus Severus had Lily's eyes. On that note, I wonder if Snape ever just stared at Harry as he was growing up to see Lily's eyes once again.
I would like to think that, in death, Snape could get beyond his childish refusal to let go of his schoolboy grudges. There is clearly some form of after life in the world Rowling imagines. I hope that he is able to come to peace with Lily and even James. At that point, maybe he'd be honored to have Albus Severus named after him.