I thought it would be nice if those of us who finished and are so inclined could talk more specifically about HP7, our reactions, and our kids’ reactions, without fear of spoiling the book for any random person who happens to pull up the page.So: here are some potential topics for discussion.
1. The death of Hedwig: Violet told me this morning that she woke up 1/2 crying after a dream about Hedwig. She was a bit angry about Hedwig’s death. I had heard this about other children and was surprised, so I was equally surprised that Violet felt that way. In any case, I took the opportunity to talk about symbolism: I said that, to me, Hedwig was kind of symbolic of Harry’s school days, which were coming to an abrupt end as he was thrust into the adult world. She smiled broadly and seemed very pleased at this idea — go figure. (By the same token I saw the early death of Moody as the loss of the failsafe guardian, a sign of how dangerous the world had become, just as the death of Dumbledore was the “loss” of a mentor and surrogate parent, and then end of Hogwarts as a safe haven.)
2. Snape: I confess that Alan Rickman has made me love Snape’s character more than I might otherwise — I can’t tell. But I really liked that Snape was neither good nor bad, and was a mixed bag to the end. I was taken aback that Harry gave his child Snape’s name, but overall I thought it more realistic that Snape did it all for Lily than that Snape would have some secret, very well-concealed concern for Harry himself. I found Snape extremely sympathetic, in the sense that he was a sad little man living only to redeem himself in the eyes of Lily Potter. Like so many of the adult charaters (Narcissa Malfoy, Luna’s dad, maybe Mrs. Weasley), his motives were far more driven by private feelings than by concern for the fate of the wizarding world.
3. Favorite scenes: Everything involving Dobby, who is a great character. His death was handled with the most genuine emotion of any of the HP deaths I can recall, and it was really moving. (I thought a lot of the transformation time at the Shell Cottage, though rushed, was nicely done.) Kreacher’s change of heart–I would really have loved to see Harry back in Grimmauld place post-Voldemort, hanging with Kreacher, maybe remodeling . . . Ron’s return to Harry and Hermione. Everyone was so in character. Maybe it’s me, but I loved watching Ron face his deepest fears and seemingly come into his own. I liked that Hermione did not melt at the return of her true love but continued to be her somewhat self-righteous, high-minded, slightly priggish self, and I liked that her friends accept that about her and carry on. I liked how competent they seemed, and I liked their loyalty to each other.
4. Surprises: Obviously was not expecting anything relating to the Deathly Hallows. I kind of enjoyed that subplot so I’m not thinking too much about whether it was necessary. I did like the contrast between Horcruxes and Hallows as means of cheating death, and I liked getting the backround on Dumbledore. Dumbledore had alluded to his “correspondingly bigger mistakes,” and we got a sense of what that was. I was not expecting the scene at the Lovegood’s to go as it did. I did assume that Snape had loved Lily, but I was genuinely surprised by the patronus thing.
5. Disappointments: Primarily, I wish there had been more and better resolution. Either keep Fred alive or give enough attention to his death to make it meaningful. Same with Tonks and Lupin. I think we needed a stronger sense of things immediately post-Voldemort before jumping ahead 19 years. I don’t mind the jump ahead 19 years in itself–it’s better than pretending that Harry & friends are really grown-ups at age 17–but honestly I almost would have preferred a less narrative version. Harry: married Ginny, had 3 kids, became famous Quidditch player. Professor Mc Gonagall served as Headmistress of Hogwarts for the next 20 years, until she was replaced by — let’s say — Ernie MacMillan. Neville Longbottom discovered the 13th and 14th uses for dragon blood. etc.