Still Unanswered Questions

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Hieronymus Downybeard

Post  Hieronymus Graubart on Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:10 pm

lol! I still appear to be a teenager on the internet!
Wait, should I be pleased or worried now?

(If you ever come near a German-English dictionary, look up "Graubart", or "grau" and "Bart". Sharing my initials with Hermione was not the only reason to choose this name.)

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Re: Still Unanswered Questions

Post  Julia H. on Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:17 pm

So... it's like Bluebeard, but not quite blue any more?

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Re: Still Unanswered Questions

Post  Solitaire on Thu Jul 25, 2013 8:51 pm

Grau meint grey auf Deutsch, nicht wahr? (Sorry ... I haven't used my German in about 35 years!)

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colors (AE) / colours (BE)

Post  Hieronymus Graubart on Mon Aug 05, 2013 1:11 pm

I see you didn't forget your German. But my dictionary tells me that "grey" is British English and it should be "gray" in American English.

So, to bring this thread back on topic, the unanswered questions would be
- Why does Solitaire pretend to be American?
- What colour was Hieronymus' beard before it turned grey (it wasn't blue)?

Alas, this doesn't work. We need some questions concerning "Harry Potter".

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Re: Still Unanswered Questions

Post  azi on Thu Aug 08, 2013 5:03 pm

One thing I've often wondered about is the number of subjects that students take at Hogwarts.

When Hermione took 12 subjects, she got a time-turner after much work by McGonagall. However, Bill Weasley and Dawlish (among others) are specifically mentioned as getting 12 outstanding NEWTs, apparently without a time turner. Pottermore states that Hermione was the only student to get a time turner in Hogwarts history (why the special treatment?) but even if we don't take that as canon, surely it would be very dangerous to routinely let teenagers loose with time tuners?

I guess what I'm wondering is how these students managed to cope with a 12 NEWT subject workload and attend all their lessons when Herione needed a time turner to attend her, probably much lower, workload pre-OWL subjects and lessons.

I expect the answer is that it's a remnant of a plot hole that JKR wrote herself into with time-turners but still, it irks me!  
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Time-Turner Observations

Post  Hieronymus Graubart on Fri Aug 09, 2013 4:32 pm

Hermione took thirteen subjects, but dropped Divination and Muggle Studies at the end of the year, when she returned the time-turner.

Ron about Hermione’s O.W.L.s in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter Five
Yep – ten "Outstandings" and one "Exceeds Expectations" in Defence Against the Dark Arts
(page 101, Bloomsbury, 2005)

Now, obviously some readers complained because we only know twelve subjects, and The Lexicon says that the American publisher (Arthur A. Levine) will change this in future editions to nine "Outstandings". I don’t know how up to date this information is and what JKR or Bloomsbury said about it. (Did anybody read a newer edition?)

Anyway, ranting about this plan to make things worse was the very first thing I ever did on the old forum.

On my last re-read of [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] and [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] (this is specifically for you, Azi, because you are British) I tried to catch every reference to this problem. There is absolutely no evidence that we know all subjects that Hermione took or that students can take at Hogwarts.

I have still to re-read OP, but I remember that one morning Harry uses Hermione’s notes to prepare for the examination in History of Magic. Ron is sleeping long. But where is Hermione? Shouldn’t she also prepare for History of Magic, sharing her notes with Harry, if she isn’t sitting another  examination (which is not for one of the twelve known subjects, because we know the schedule for these)?

IMO the only plot hole here is that nobody, not even JKR, can make up a plausible thirteenth subject, so she simply never told us what it is.

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Re: Still Unanswered Questions

Post  Julia H. on Fri Aug 09, 2013 5:11 pm

LOL, the thirteenth subject is broomstick flying. Did Hermione   want to improve her flying skills, too?  

Coping with twelve NEWTs without a Time Turner (Bill Weasley, Dawlish etc.) - is it possible to take a number of subjects in year six and a different set in year seven and then take exams in all of them? Or is possible to take further NEWT exams at a later time? Could Bill Weasley, for example, get eight NEWTs at the end of his seventh Hogwarts year and then come back a year or two later and get four more NEWTs?

Speaking of Hogwarts subjects, let me advertise once more the new Hogwarts subjects quiz on the Trivia thread. There have already been some very nice answers there, but there may still be people who haven't heard about it.  

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Re: Still Unanswered Questions

Post  Verity Weasley on Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:33 pm

I know you're joking Julia, but if broomstick flying was an examinable subject, Harry would definitely have taken it, and got an Outstanding!   I imagine it is a little like the Apparition lessons they had in sixth year, just an optional extra short-term subject.

I see it, not so much as a plot hole, but definitely an inconsistency. We're continually told that Hermione was the most brilliant witch of her age, and it's difficult to imagine her being surpassed by Bill or Dawlish. Maybe the timetable was different when they were at school, allowing them to take more subjects without clashing. Maybe JKR will address the inconsistency in a future Pottermore moment!  

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Re: Still Unanswered Questions

Post  Julia H. on Sat Aug 10, 2013 4:05 am

Yes, I was joking, but I only mentioned broomstick flying with regard to Hermione's thirteen subjects in the third year, not as an examinable subject. She didn't get thirteen OWLs, only eleven. Of course, even in this case, she had to take either Muggle Studies or Divination again (the second is unlikely, the first isn't mentioned) unless there are some more subjects we don't know about. Or she took an exam in Muggle Studies without taking the subject itself. She was Muggleborn after all.

We know very little about NEWT exams or about higher education in the wizarding world. How can you become a qualified healer, for example? I don't have the impression that Hogwarts offers all the necessary knowledge. We know that aurors need further training. Bill's job with Gringotts may have required further training, too.

I agree that it's an inconsistency in the books - but we like solving inconsistencies, don't we?  I can easily imagine some more subjects at Hogwarts. What is more, I think there should definitely be some more subjects.

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Re: Still Unanswered Questions

Post  Verity Weasley on Sat Aug 10, 2013 7:43 am

Well that sounds like a challenge Julia!  

What other subjects can you imagine being taught at Hogwarts?

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Re: Still Unanswered Questions

Post  shepherdess on Sat Aug 10, 2013 3:02 pm

Well, since there's a Hogwarts choir in the PoA movie, maybe they have a chorus class. lol.
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Re: Still Unanswered Questions

Post  azi on Sat Aug 10, 2013 4:00 pm

Pottermore mentions study in things like Alchemy for NEWT students (think it was Pottermore, maybe an interview with JKR).

I think it more likely that JKR made a mistake that Hermione took an extra subject we haven't heard of though.

I think anyone entering specific careers needs extra study beyond Hogwarts. It's never mentioned if you can split subjects up, but I would have thought that if you could then Hermione could have taken some subjects early.
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The Thirteenth Subject

Post  Hieronymus Graubart on Sun Aug 11, 2013 9:25 am

... if broomstick flying was an examinable subject, Harry would definitely have taken it, and got an Outstanding!
Because everybody expects so much from the youngest Seeker in a century that Harry cannot Exceed Expectations in Flying.

Or she took an exam in Muggle Studies without taking the subject itself. She was Muggleborn after all.
And she got only an "Outstanding", not an "Exceeds Expectations", because she could actually have learned something in these lessons.

Muggle Studies is an option for Hermiones eleventh O.W.L, but the time turner plot just doesn’t work for me if Hermione didn’t try to do something nobody had ever attempted before her. And learning that "nothing is impossible" isn’t true, even if magic is available, is an important part of Hermione’s character development. In DH, she is the part of the trio who is aware of impossibilities like the exceptions to Gamp’s Law, or truely resurrecting the dead, or making an invincible wand.

Very specialised subjects such as Alchemy are sometimes offered in the final two years, if there is sufficient demand.
(Pottermore – New From J. K. Rowling – Hogwarts School Subjects)

Playing Advocatus Diaboli:
As far as I understand these things, Alchemy is just a combination of some aspects of advanced transfiguration and sophisticated potions, based on a very special theory.

The same is true for other specialisations like Healing (applied Herbology, Potions and an occasional healing charm), it’s always just applications and combination of known subjects. There is no justification to call it another subject.

You see why JKR cannot tell us what the thirteenth subject is? Somebody would rip it appart.

But I really wish she had included a line saying something like "Harry wondered what the subject of Hermione’s tenth Outstanding might have been, but he didn’t ask, because it would have been too embarassing to admit that he still not had figured this out." Even better: Ron dares to ask and gets a snide remark as an answer, because he really should know. Wasn’t he the boy who lurked on Hermione’s schedule and commented on the impossibilities?

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Re: Still Unanswered Questions

Post  Julia H. on Sun Aug 11, 2013 10:13 am

Oh, I thought of rather more ordinary subjects. If they have History of Magic, why don't they have magical arts or literature? What about music? Geography? Languages? Given the fact that a lot of spells are based on Latin, some students may be interested in learning Latin (Snape apparently knows some Latin, given the spells he has invented), and there are also Modern Languages. Foreign witches and wizards, like Fleur, Madame Maxime and even Krum, not to mention the Bulgarian Minister for Magic, must have learned English somewhere, too. There are also the languages of various magical creatures, like Merpeople. Mr Crouch can allegedly speak the languages of a number of magical peoples and Dumbledore can also talk to Merpeople. I guess a school like Hogwarts should be a place where one could expect to find these subjects.

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Re: Still Unanswered Questions

Post  shepherdess on Sun Aug 11, 2013 2:12 pm

This also raises the question of the staff table in the Great Hall. If there are other classes and other teachers, why aren't there more people sitting at that table? Of course, we never see Professors Sinistra or Burbage sitting there either. Wonder why that is?
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The Thirteenth Subject

Post  Hieronymus Graubart on Sun Aug 11, 2013 4:14 pm

Shepherdess, may I link you to a [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] in GF? This is actually the biggest problem I have with Hermione’s eleventh O.W.L. It seems she had lessons with Dumbledore and never talked about it.

The magical aspect of creating a painting or sculpture would just be applied charmes or transfiguration again. So let’s drop "magical" and just say "art", like Julia says "literature", "music", "geography", "Latin" and "Modern Languages". It is possible that students at Hogwarts learn this stuff in addition to magic, or rather learn magic in addition to what all children have to learn, but JKR never told us about it, because it is neither magical nor relevant to the plot. Harry, Ron and Hermione may have had any nunber of obligatory or voluntary examinations in O.N.L.s (Ordinary Non-Wizarding Levels) similar to O.L.s in Muggle schools, but we still don’t know the subject of Hermione’s eleventh O.W.L.

Mermish! Gobbledegook! Troll! Why did I never think of this? Thank you, Julia!

New head canon: Hermione learned "Basics of Interspecies Communication" aka "Languages of Magical Beings" from Dumbledore. In DH, did she understand some of what the goblins said in gobbledegook?


Last edited by Hieronymus Graubart on Mon Aug 12, 2013 3:34 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Spelling: species)

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Re: Still Unanswered Questions

Post  Verity Weasley on Sun Aug 11, 2013 9:14 pm

Great ideas Julia, and very plausible indeed.  

And HG, I love your suggestions for the additional text in HPB when the OWL results arrive!  

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Re: Still Unanswered Questions

Post  shepherdess on Fri Aug 30, 2013 3:21 am

As I mentioned earlier, I reread PS/SS not too long ago, and I wrote down some questions that I had--not earth shattering ones, but just things that made me go "hmm". I've posted a few of these on the PS/SS read along thread.

I'm not doing these as a read along because I'm done with the book. But I'm attempting to post them in chronological order, so if others want to do a reread the questions will be in pretty much the right order.
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Re: Still Unanswered Questions

Post  shepherdess on Tue Sep 24, 2013 9:11 pm

shepherdess wrote:I think there are some things that JKR put in the books because they worked there, then didn't have the time-or inclination-to develope them (or just forgot about them). Some of these things will ultimately have to be dismissed as just that. We should come up with a name for them-"Jo's Unfinished Ideas" (or something more clever). But before we label them that way and dismiss them as such, it would be nice if we could come up with reasonable explanations for them being there, and save that title for things that simply cannot be explained in any way.
Ok; we still need to come up with a clever name for JKR's unfinished ideas--things that can't be explained away. On my recent re-read I found some of these things that she put in the first book but I don't remember being mentioned again.

On the school list we find “One plain pointed hat (black) for day wear.” Do we ever read about any student wearing a pointed hat? You would think there would be at least the occasional “he/she grabbed his/her hat, set it on his/her head, and…”, “the winds were so strong that the students could hardly keep their pointed hats on”, or “so-and-so knocked someone’s pointed hat off his/her head and….”. (This one is probably just my faulty memory.)
-----------------------

Hagrid takes Harry to Gringotts, gives Harry's vault key to Griphook, Griphook uses it to open Harry's vault, then...? We get no explanation of how Hagrid came to have Harry's key or where it went after the vault was opened; no mention of Harry ever having it on him or giving it to a goblin to open his vault in any of the succeeding years.
--------------------

And speaking of Harry's vault-Why does green smoke come billowing out of it when it’s opened—just this once, and no other vault ever?
-----------------------

Hagrid tells Harry “I don’ like cats, they make me sneeze”. So there’s an animal that Hagrid doesn’t like? Wow. He never seems to have a problem with Crookshanks. Of course he’s part Kneazle, so maybe that makes a difference in pet dander? And his opinion of the animal? Hmm..

At Platform 9 ¾ “smoke from the engine drifted over the heads of the chattering crowd, while cats of every color wound here and there between their legs.” Clearly many students took cats to Hogwarts. So how come we never hear about Hagrid sneezing? And how come we never hear about any cats at school other than Crookshanks?

And then there is Mrs. Norris. "An as fer that cat, Mrs Norris, I’d like ter introduce her to Fang some time. D’yeh know, every time I go up ter the school, she follows me everywhere? Can’t get rid of her – Filch puts her up to it." Do we ever read about Mrs Norris being around Hagrid when he’s in the castle? And again--we don’t read about him sneezing.
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Re: Still Unanswered Questions

Post  Solitaire on Tue Sep 24, 2013 9:44 pm

About those cats ... we do know about Mrs. Norris, because she is always with Filch. There is at least one other cat at Hogwarts in year 2, because Hermione accidentally uses a cat hair from Millicent Bulstrode's robe in her Polyjuice potion and turns herself into a cat. Perhaps the students who do have cats keep them in their dorm rooms. We mainly see Hagrid in the Great Hall at meals (no cats would be there) and occasionally in the halls. If cats do keep to their owners' rooms, there wouldn't be much opportunity for him to run into them. As for Mrs. Norris ... could she possibly be part Kneazle, like Crookshanks? Even if she follows Hagrid around, perhaps she does it from a distance, far enough away so that he doesn't sneeze. Hagrid likes to pet and "love" on animals, so maybe cats have to be really close to his face in order to make him sneeze.

Of course, Crookshanks isn't a regular cat, so perhaps the "cat rules" of the castle (if there are any) don't apply to him. BTW, I may be misremembering, but doesn't Harry look out his dorm window one night and see Crookshanks and Padfoot walking together across Hogwarts grounds, even before Harry learns that Padfoot is really Sirius Black?

About Harry's key ... I would imagine Dumbledore gave it to him. Once the vault was open, perhaps Harry kept the key in his trunk (or returned it to DD for safekeeping). He always went to Gringott's each summer, so he must have had it with him, unless the Goblins knew him from that point and it wasn't required.

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Re: Still Unanswered Questions

Post  Julia H. on Wed Sep 25, 2013 11:34 am

Interesting questions.

About the pointed black hats - this is what I've found in the Lexicon:

"Snape said Moody's searched his office as well?" Ron whispered, his eyes alight with interest as he Banished a cushion with a sweep of his wand (it soared into the air and knocked Parvati's hat off). (GF26)

So they indeed wear hats in class. It must be uncomfortable. I suspect that the students put them in their schoolbags as soon as they think it is safe (there are no teachers nearby). Then again, is it ever said that regularly wearing the hats is compulsory?

Hagrid never sneezes: Allergy or not, do we ever see any wizards or witches suffering from a Muggle illness? They have dragon pox and magical injuries, and once in CoS Snape sneezes. I know they have Pepper-up Potion to cure the common cold and Trelawney predicts a nasty bout of flu in PoA, so it is probable that wizards get ill sometimes, but we don't actually see anyone being ill, except for magical maladies and injuries.

Interesting about the vault key... I guess we just have to choose our own explanation.  The same goes for the green smoke - maybe vaults smoke when they haven't been opened for a long time.

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Re: Still Unanswered Questions

Post  Solitaire on Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:42 pm

Julia H. wrote:... maybe vaults smoke when they haven't been opened for a long time.
That's actually what I thought. Obviously, that vault has not been entered since before James and Lily were murdered ... unless DD went there at some point to put something into the vault. And that reminds me ... Bill Weasley got Harry's money for him at the beginning of HBP, because he said the Goblins' new security measures had made the wait in line about 5 hours. I know he works for Gringotts, but he obviously didn't have Harry's key ... did he?

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Re: Still Unanswered Questions

Post  shepherdess on Fri Oct 25, 2013 10:07 pm

And in GoF Molly does all the school shopping while everyone else is at the QWC, including Harry’s. She must have gotten money from his vault to purchase his school supplies, but there’s nothing said about him giving her the key. And if he had given her his key, would the goblins have let someone take money out of someone else’s vault just because they had the key? What if the key was stolen?

If Dumbledore gave Hagrid the key, how did he come by it? Since James and Lily were hiding under the fidelius charm, they couldn’t very well go out shopping or to the bank to get money for shopping. It would make sense for them to give someone else the key and have that person purchase anything they needed. But that sounds more like a favor they would have asked of Sirius, Remus, or Peter than Dumbledore.

In DH, Hermione as Bellitrix, was asked by the goblin to show him her wand for identification purposes. Now it seems they knew Bellatrix’s wand had been stolen, and Harry had to secretly Imperio the goblin to not recognize it, but the fact that he asked for it and that no one questioned it, is a good indication that this was not an uncommon practice. So this raises new questions. What else can you use for identification? How do goblins know which wands belong to which witches/wizards? How would they know whether one had been stolen? Even of Molly showed them her wand (and we know she didn’t have Harry’s wand), how can they be sure it’s ok with Harry for her to take money out of his vault?
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Re: Still Unanswered Questions

Post  Verity Weasley on Fri Oct 25, 2013 10:22 pm

Well, Harry is still underage, so the rules governing his vault may well be different to those of adult wizards. He might also have had money left over to give to Molly without needing to get more out of his vault.

In DH, when the goblins ask to see Bellatrix's wand, I got the impression that this was out of the ordinary. Security had been increased at Gringotts with LV's rise to power, as can be seen by the security goblins guarding the doors. The trio weren't expecting to have to use the wand for identification, but we've seen wands used for identification before when Harry visited the Ministry. There must be some way of linking the wizard to the wand, and given that goblins have particular magic of their own, it's not unreasonable that they would be able to do that. As for knowing Bellatrix's wand had been stolen, I think it was simple. They had been told and were on the alert for imposters.

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Re: Still Unanswered Questions

Post  shepherdess on Fri Oct 25, 2013 10:29 pm

More seemingly abandoned ideas:

Ron has four corned beef sandwiches to eat on the train, sent by Mrs. Weasley, presumably because the family couldn’t afford for multiple kids to purchase food from the trolley. But do we read about any of the other Weasleys bringing sandwiches on the train in any of the books?
------------------------------

Why doesn’t Harry ever look himself up in Modern Magical History, The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts or Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century? Hermione tells him he’s in those then we never read about them again.
-----------------------------

A voice echoed through the train: ‘We will be reaching Hogwarts in five minutes’ time. Please leave your luggage on the train, it will be taken to the school separately.’

We only hear this announcement in the first book (I think). Shouldn’t it be repeated every year for the benefit of the new first year students?
-----------------------------------

‘And now, before we go to bed, let us sing the school song!’ cried Dumbledore. Harry noticed that the other teachers’ smiles had become rather fixed…….
‘Everyone pick their favourite tune…..’

And the school bellowed:

‘Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy
Warty Hogwarts,
Teach us something please,
Whether we be old and bald
Or young with scabby knees,
Our heads could do with filling
With some interesting stuff,
For now they’re bare and full of air,
Dead flies and bits of fluff,
So teach us things worth knowing,
Bring back what we’ve forgot,
Just do your best, we’ll do the rest
And learn until our brains all rot.’


Everybody sang to their own tune and finished the song at different times.

Ok, first of all, this is the only time the school song is ever sung. Why not every year? Secondly, is it just me or is this a pretty pathetic excuse for a school song? It’s disappointing if it’s the best JKR could come up with, but my guess is that she was trying to illustrate how…shall we say...quirky…the wizarding world is as well as a mention about music to set us up for the whole Fluffy thing.

‘Ah, music,’ (Dumbledore) said, wiping his eyes. ‘A magic beyond all we do here!...’
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