Observations in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"

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Observations in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"

Post  Hieronymus Graubart on Wed Oct 30, 2013 3:35 pm

Yes, I’m back.

Like last year, I will not pretend that this is a read along.


Last edited by Hieronymus Graubart on Sat Nov 02, 2013 7:13 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Just noticed that the quotation marks in the title were not standard Ascii and may have looked weird in some Browsers.)

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Chapter 1: Dudley Demented

Post  Hieronymus Graubart on Wed Oct 30, 2013 3:36 pm

No observations here, but a querstion to native speakers which never occured to me on previous reads:

Dudley doesn’t ask ’Who’s Cedric – your friend?’, like he does in the German translation. He says specifically ’Who’s Cedric – your boyfriend?’

Does Dudley intend to imply homosexuality?

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Re: Observations in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"

Post  shepherdess on Wed Oct 30, 2013 6:55 pm

Yes, I believe he does.
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Re: Observations in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"

Post  Denise P. on Wed Oct 30, 2013 7:57 pm

I would agree that Dudley was certainly implying it.

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Chapter 3: The Advance Guard

Post  Hieronymus Graubart on Sat Nov 02, 2013 7:03 am

Just taking notes for potential further use:

Fidelius observation Nr. 4a:

Remus Lupin says
We’ve set up Headquarters somewhere undetectable.
Fidelius observation Nr. 4b:


Alastor Moody gives Harry a piece of parchment on which is written
The Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix may be found at number twelve, Grimmauld Place, London.
Thank’s to Shepherdess  and Denise, your opinions are valuable.

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Chapter 4: Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place

Post  Hieronymus Graubart on Sat Nov 09, 2013 5:39 am

Taking more notes for potential further use:

Fidelius observation Nr. 5a:
’Think about what you’ve just memorized,’ said Lupin quietly. Harry thought, and no sooner had he reached the part about number twelve, Grimmauld Place, than a battered door emerged out of nowhere between numbers eleven and thirteen ...
Fidelius observation Nr.5b:
Lupin pulled out his wand and tapped the door once. Harry heard many loud, metallic clicks and what sounded like the clatter of a chain. The door creaked open.
Fidelius observation Nr.5c:

Very shortly after Harry entered number twelve, Grimmauld Place, Molly Weasley tells him that he has to wait for dinner, because there is a meeting only for members of the Order.

Fidelius observation Nr.5d:
As they passed the row of house-elf heads on the wall,they saw Lupin, Mrs Weasley and Tonks at the front door, magically sealing its many locks and bolts behind those who had just left.


Last edited by Hieronymus Graubart on Sun Nov 10, 2013 4:59 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Removing blank lines)

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Chapter 5: The Order of the Phoenix

Post  Hieronymus Graubart on Sun Nov 10, 2013 5:01 am

Taking still more notes for potential further use:

Fidelius observation Nr. 6:

’Hasn’t anyone told you? This was my parents’ house,’ said Sirius. ‘But I’m the last Black left, so it’s mine now. I offered it to Dumbledore for Headquarters – ...

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Chapter 6: The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black

Post  Hieronymus Graubart on Fri Nov 15, 2013 3:27 pm

Fidelius observation Nr. 7:
Sirius about Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place (emphasize mine):
’My father put every security measure known to wizardkind on it when he lived here. It’s unplottable, so Muggles could never come and call – as if they’d ever have wanted to – and now Dumbledore added his protection, you’d be hard put to find a safer house anywhere.
Dumbledore is Secret Keeper for the Order, you know – nobody can find Headquarters unless he tells them personally where it is – that note Moody showed you last night, that was from Dumbledore ...’
If we take [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]; did he talk about Unplottability?

Note that Sirius got it wrong. [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], and other security measures may still be needed to ward off undesirable guests (which may include Muggles) who don’t need a map to find 12 GP or who are not even looking for it, but would stumble in accidentally.

It seems reasonable that there should be more to Unpottability than just "it’s impossible to plot on a map", but we don’t know for sure, and there are still all the other security measurements known to wizardkind. Anyway, whether it’s synonymous to Unplottability or not, "undetectable" probably means "you can not find it if you don’t already know where its is". Now, it would be really hard to conceal the location of a place called "Number 12, Grimmauld Place", because everybody who is acquainted with the British house numbering rules could tell you that it has to be between "Number 11, Grimmauld Place" and "Number 13, Grimmauld Place".

So, one of the many security measures applied by Sirius’ father must have been a manipulation of the Muggle neighbours minds. They believe to remember a made up story which explains why three small buildings that burned down ages ago were replaced by only two buildings, thus they don’t wonder why Number 12 is not there, don’t remember that it still should exist and cannot see it. Since such a story might actually be true, Harry doesn’t see the house either, until Remus makes him [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] and he becomes consciously aware that, if the Order’s Headquarters may be found at 12 GP, then 12 GP obviously must exist, and if it exists, it obviously must be right there, between 11 GP and 13 GP.

I don’t believe that this is about "knowing the Secret"; what was written in Dumbledore’s note is just incidentally the only fact Harry knows and can be made to think about. If 12 GP had never been the Order’s Headquarters, but undetectable anyway, and Harry had wanted to visit Sirius and somebody had told him that [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], thinking about this fact would have worked just as well.

Since 12 GP was made undetectable by Unplottability or some other spell anyway, we cannot know whether it was also made invisible by the Fidelius Charme (note [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]). But we also cannot know whether the house would have been visible to Harry even before he read Dumbledore’s note, if it had not been made undetectable by Sirius father. Note also [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]. So the Malfoys, and by extension all Death Eaters, know that 12 GP exists and that it has to be between 11 GP and 13 GP, but since no Death Eaters show up at Grimmauld Place, we cannot know whether they are able to see the house or whether it’s hidden from them by the Fidelius Charm. (The situation in DH is completely different, so I ignore it for now.)

Supposed Harry would have been able to see and enter the house, he would never have guessed, just from looking around, that this Dark place might be Sirius’ home or the Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. But of course living there not knowing the Secret would have been awkward. Just imagine [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]. Nearly running into a secret meeting for members of the Order only, Harry would have come dangerously close to finding the Secret out on his own. Of course the Fidelius Charm would not allow this to happen, but it is hard to predict what it would have done in this case. So, even if Harry didn’t actually need to know the Secret to be able to see and enter the house, it may have seemed more secure to let him know before he entered rather than let him read Dumbledore’s note only when he already was save (or not so save) inside the house.

Also found in this chapter:
’We can’t let them out to hunt every niight,’ Ron explained as he pulled on his maroon pyjamas. ‘Dumbledore doesn’t want too many owls swooping around the square, thinks it’ll look suspicious...
So, the owls are let out at least occasionally. How do they find their way back in? Do they know the Secret? Do they need to know the Secret? Would it be possible to find Headquarters by following an owl who carried a letter adressed to "The Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix"? Probably not. The Fidelius Charm would make "something" happen, either to the owl, so that she never reaches the destination, or to the persons who try to follow the owl, so that they become distracted and loose contact. Or the owl may just not be able to deliver this mail, because she doesn’t know the Secret.

Also, Dumbledore worried about somebody seeing the owls and suspecting that wizards may secretly live or at least meet at Grimmauld Place. This may have been reason enough to conceal the Headquarters location with a Fidelius Charm, even if this charm wouldn’t keep the Death Eaters out if they tried to inspect every house at Grimmauld Place anyway. Actually, letting the Death Eaters in might have helped to conceale the Secret. As long as they didn’t run into a secret meeting in the kitchen and Kreacher could be kept away from them, the inspectors might well have left the house totally convinced that the Order of the Phoenix would never set up Headquarters in such a non-phoenixlike place.

By the way, owls are able to deliver mail to Ron, Hermione and Sirius at 12 GP, at least as long as nobody suspects that the place where they are is also the place where the Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix may be found. Obviously the owls need to know where this undetectable place is. This is easy for owls like Pigwidgeon or Errol, who left 12 GP and return. Making up fan fiction about how Hedwig could find 12 GP for the first time is left as an exercise to the reader.

Also found in this chapter (taking more notes because this wasn’t the last word):
’I keep telling them not to ring the doorbell!’ said Sirius exasperatedly, hurrying out of the room.
Why do "they" keep ringing the doorbell? Can’t they [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] Apparently Sirius has to open the door for Kingsley. The situation is more ambiguous when Mundungus rings the doorbell. Mrs. Weasley goes downstairs, saying that she will bring up some sandwiches, but she may also be intending to answer the door? But then Sirius and Kingsley are already there and may have let Mundungus in before Molly arrives and yells at Mundungus?

’He’s been alone too long,’ said Sirius, ‘taking mad orders from my mothers portrait and talking to himself ...
. Did Kreacher get any visitors in the ten years between Mrs. Black’s death and Sirius’ arrival?

’But if they do expel me,’ said Harry quietly, ‘can I come back here and live with you?’
Sirius smiled sadly.
‘We’ll see.’
. This may become significant.

Sometimes, however, the visitors stayed to help..., and Lupin,who was staying in the house with Sirius but who left it for long periods to do mysterious work for the order ...
So "guests" cannot open the door, but Lupin can, because he is more than a guest?

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Chapter 7: The Ministry of Magic

Post  Hieronymus Graubart on Mon Nov 18, 2013 3:35 pm

Fidelius observation Nr. 8:
Mr Weasley unbolted the door and they stepped out into the cold, grey dawn.
Unfortunately Harry didn’t look back.

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Chapter 9: The Woes of Mrs Weasley

Post  Hieronymus Graubart on Sun Nov 24, 2013 11:34 am

Fidelius observation Nr. 9:
A non-observation: We don’t watch Harry returning to Number 12, Grimmauld Place.

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Chapter 10: Luna Lovegood

Post  Hieronymus Graubart on Sun Dec 01, 2013 12:14 pm

Fidelius observation Nr. 10:
’Where ’s Tonks?’ Harry said, looking round as they went down the stone steps of number twelve, which vanished the moment they reached the pavement.
Now this is weird.

Supposed Harry couldn’t see the house when he arrived at Grimauld Place, because it was made invisible by the Fidelius Charm: Why would Number 12, Grimauld Place become invisible again while Harry still knows the Secret?

Supposed [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], because it is undetectable and Harry needed to be concsiously aware that it exists and where it is supposed to be: Why would Number 12, Grimauld Place become invisible again while Harry still is perfectly aware that it is right there where he left it?

May we see a third spell at work here? Sirius father put "[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]" on the house. So there is not only unplottability and Dumbledore’s Fidelius Charm, there are also unbreakable windows, an imperturbable door which can only be opened by persons who live in the house, Muggle repelling, Filth decline, Scum denial, Half-breed disallowance, Mutant disapproval, Freak dismissal, Blood Traitor rebuff, Abomination refusal, Mudblood rejection, Werewolf repulse, Thief repudiation and more general spells to turn Criminals away, not to forget – STOP the thesaurus abuse, it doesn’t work anyway.

What did Sirius’ father expect from
every security measure known to wizardkind
when all these spells don’t stop the invasion of so many people who set up Mrs Black’s portrait so much?  

I’m not sure how far Sirius really understood what his father did there and how much he would tell Harry, who, after all, shouldn’t know
more then he needs to know.
Rather than defining who should not be allowed to enter the house, Mr Black may have gone the other way: Using every charm, jinx and hex (and an occasional curse?) he could think of, Sirius’ father made his house inaccessible (and obviously also invisible) to everybody who is not
• the house’s owner
• living there with the owner’s permission, like members of the owner’s family
• an invited guest
• a not fully sentient messenger, like an owl, phoenix or Patronus.
This probably worked quite well as long as Sirius’ parents were alive, but now a werewolf lives at Number 12, Grimmauld Place with the owner’s permission, and when Sirius "[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]", every member of the Order of the Phoenix implicitly got an invitation to visit whenever they feel like it (unless the jinxed house is able to determine whether they come on Order business or for other reasons).

Harry never got an official invitation, but Remus Lupin (who may be able to bring his own guests) being with the Advance Guard, or Sirius simply agreeing that the Advance Guard should take Harry to 12 GP, may be sufficient to count as an implicit invitation.

I’m not sure whether Molly and Arthur Weasley count as "guests who stay longer than other members of the Order", or as "having the owner's permission to live there" like Remus Lupin (it may or may not be significant that Arthur and Molly are able to open the door, at least from inside the house). Anyway, Harry, Hermione, Fred, George, Ron and Ginny were only invited (implicitly or not) for the summer holidays, because at the end of these holidays they have to leave and go to Hogwarts.

Unfortunately we don’t know whether the house vanished when Harry left it to go to the hearing at the MoM, and wether he needed Arthur’s help to find his way back. But if the house vanished, how did Arthur find it again?

So I think that Sirius’ father’s security measures may give us a plausible reason for our observation here. The house doesn’t regularly become invisible to everybody who leaves it. But now is the end of the summer holidays, Sirius expects that Harry will stay at Hogwarts during winter and spring holidays like he did every year, then Harry has to return to the Dursleys for at least some weaks, and Sirius didn’t think any further, because there will still be plenty of time to invite Harry again Sad , and Harry didn’t even get a conditional invitation in case he might be expelled from Hogwarts, when he asked for it. Thus, he will not longer be able to get into the house until he is invited again.

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Chapter 11: The Sorting Hat’s New Song

Post  Hieronymus Graubart on Fri Dec 27, 2013 12:14 pm

Did you become impatient, because I talked so much about the Fidelius Charm and other security measures at Number 12, Grimauld Place? Well, here is

Slytherin observation Nr. 36

Unlike in previous years, when
the Sorting Hat usually confined itself to describing the different qualities looked for by each of the four Hogwarts houses and its own role in sorting them
this year’s song is about history, and it is slighty ambigous concerning Slytherin’s attitude. When discussing the qualities of potential students
Said Slytherin, ‘We’ll teach just those
Whose ancestry is purest.’
But when it came to choosing the students for his house
For instance, Slytherin
Took only pure-blood wizards
Of great cunning, just like him

The Sorting Hat told us in GF that
The founders put some brains in me
So I could choose instead
and it never listed this pure-blood obsession as one of its criteria for sorting students into Slytherin house, it goes for Slytherin's "cunning" (PS/SS) and "ambition" (GF).

Was the Sorting Hat programmed to do exactly what the Founders did, or does "some brains" allow it to decide, to its best judgement, what the Founders would do in a situation that might have changed? How important is "pure blood" in being "just like Salazar Slytherin"? Could the Sorting Hat drop this when [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] and insisting on "pure blood" became just silly because there are so few pure-blood families left?

This is one of many things we still don’t know, and I was tempted to start a new list of known Slytherins and their blood status, but then I realized that it would be full of question marks. At this point of the story, we know about twenty Slytherins, but the blood status of only three of them:
Tom Marvolo Riddle aka Lord Voldemort admitted to be a half-blood in CS (and Hagrid said that he was a Slytherin in PS/SS).
Lucius and Draco Malfoy claim to be pure-bloods, although I don’t remember to have seen any evidence other than their attitude, and in PS/SS Draco mentioned the Malfoy’s family tradition to be in Slytherin.

Since the two known pure-blood Slytherins are from the same family, the two-to-one ratio isn’t surprising, and I don’t see any reason to assume that modern Slytherins should be pure-bloods and that Tom Marvolo Riddle was a big exception.

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Re: Observations in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"

Post  Julia H. on Fri Dec 27, 2013 5:10 pm

It's interesting that insisting on Slytherin's allegedly most important criterion - pure wizard blood - would have excluded Tom Marvolo Riddle from Slytherin House (and possibly from the whole of Hogwarts if Salazar Slytherin had had his way). Of course, one can imagine that Slytherin's last surviving heir had to be accepted even with a Muggle parent. 

When counting pureblood Slytherins, shouldn't we count there a few members of the Black family as well? It seems that those of the Blacks who "contaminated" the family tree were removed from it, so we can suppose that those who remained were pureblood wizards and witches and Sirius mentions to James (I know it's in DH only) that his whole family have been in Slytherin. We know about Regulus specifically and I think we can be fairly sure that Bella was also a Slytherin. 

It's a good question about the "brains" of the Sorting Hat. It seems to me that its most important consideration was what the first-year student in question wanted (though it did make suggestions) and perhaps it made its own decision only when the student sitting on the chair had no particular wishes. It makes me wonder how many students could there be who had no idea which house they wanted ... the Muggleborns maybe, but even they could hear different opinions on the Hogwarts Express, they could also make friends with students who had already decided what they wanted, so in actual reality the Sorting Hat may not have had to decide very often. Or do we know about anyone who was sorted into a house against their wishes?

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Re: Observations in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"

Post  shepherdess on Fri Dec 27, 2013 8:31 pm

Well, this is interesting about the sorting hat's criteria for Slytherins. If it were to go strictly by blood status, then it should put all purebloods in Slytherin. Wouldn't that include the Weasleys, Sirius, Neville and...who else? And surely (assuming that because it let Tom M Riddle in, it let's other non-purebloods in) there are some there who would have been left out because they're not purebloods.

If there are "not many" purebloods left, then Slytherin House would be very small in numbers compared to other houses if all the purebloods and no one else were put in it.

And if all purebloods were Slytherin, and all Slytherins were obsessed with pure blood, then Slytherins would only marry Slytherins. That would, indeed, be a small gene pool.

Seems to me the hat is only allowed to sort by character traits and student wishes (those things that make up a person's personality), but not by things like blood status/ancestery/genetics (things pertaining to a person's physical make up). If you think about it, that goes contrary to what makes someone a wizard in the first place. No matter what your character traits or your wishes, you're not going to be a wizard unless it's in your genes (somewhere; even far back).
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Re: Observations in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"

Post  Julia H. on Sat Dec 28, 2013 6:23 am

Being a wizard is an inherited ability, while being pureblood isn't. 

It would be very difficult for the Sorting Hat to go strictly by blood status in the case of Slytherin and strictly by the required personality traits in the case of the other houses.  After all, a pureblood can be very brave (Gryffindor) or intelligent and hardworking (Ravenclaw) and it wouldn't be fair if purebloods could only go to Slytherin. Of course, the selection process is still difficult as we know of many students who would qualify for several houses anyway. That's why I think that students' personal wishes matter so much. Slytherin is an interesting mixture of qualities: the Malfoys are certainly obsessed with blood status, but Snape (another halfblood Slytherin!) wants to be in Slytherin because he thinks that's where the brainy kids are, and "great cunning" is indeed mentioned in connection with Slyhterin, as well as ambition (of which Snape has a lot). Yet, Slytherin also includes Crabbe and Goyle, though I don't think Salazar Slytherin would be particularly proud of their brains or cunning even if they happened to be pureblood. But they probably wanted to be in Slytherin. For one thing, they were ready to follow Draco even if they had no other personal reasons to choose Slytherin. (Of course, it is quite possible that they came from traditionally Slytherin families. Their fathers were Voldemort's followers and I don't see why Voldemort would have wanted them unless it was to gather a couple of more purebloods around him.)

Taking a look at Gryffindor House, Peter Pettigrew was a Gryffindor, yet he never showed any remarkable courage (as far as I can tell) so the only reason I can imagine for the Hat to put him in Gryffindor is that for some reason Peter probably wanted to be a Gryffindor.

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Peter Pettigrew

Post  Hieronymus Graubart on Mon Dec 30, 2013 5:51 am

If Peter had not been brave, wouldn’t he have wanted to keep as much distance as possible between himself and the werewolf (as soon as he found out what Remus was)? If he never showed some courage (even if we didn’t see it), how could he have become James and Sirius’ friend?

I believe that Peter was struggling to overcome his fear, much like Hermione in her early years, but unlike Hermione, he failed.

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Re: Observations in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"

Post  Julia H. on Mon Dec 30, 2013 9:09 am

How did Peter become James and Sirius's friend? I think Sirius said it all in PoA:

"I, a spy for Voldemort? When did I ever sneak around people who were stronger and more powerful than myself? But you, Peter -- I'll never understand why I didn't see you were the spy from the start. You always liked big friends who'd look after you, didn't you? It used to be us... me and Remus... and James...."

"You weren't about to commit murder right under Albus Dumbledore's nose, for a wreck of a wizard who'd lost all of his power, were you? You'd want to be quite sure he was the biggest bully in the playground before you went back to him, wouldn't you?"

That explains why Peter wanted to be friends with James and Sirius as well as why he betrayed them in the end. As for why James and Sirius accepted him, well, I think it was the admiration Peter displayed in OotP (Snape's Worst Memory) for the leader of the group, James Potter. James simply enjoyed being admired. While Sirius was his true friend (who probably also accepted James's leadership if not in a servile way like Peter), he also wanted just followers and admirers, and Peter (and perhaps even Lupin) helped to satisfy his vanity. 


If Peter had not been brave, wouldn’t he have wanted to keep as much distance as possible between himself and the werewolf (as soon as he found out what Remus was)?

By the time he found it out, he didn't have much choice, I'm afraid. He and Lupin probably slept in the same dorm and were together in class anyway. He also realized that a werewolf was at Hogwarts with the Headmaster's approval, so unless he started a campaign against Lupin (so that parents demand Lupin's expulsion, for example) or tranferred into another house (which was probably not an option), Peter couldn't do too much to keep much distance from Lupin  - and it would have meant turning against his strong friends and protectors. On the other hand, by that time he had also learned that Lupin was not dangerous on an everyday basis, and Lupin always left the school when the full moon came. Of course, it all changed when they became Animagi and then he had to choose between giving up his strong and brave friends and taking part in their exploits. In fact, both going with them and staying out of their adventures required some type of courage and there was no third option... At least being an Animagus meant protection against a werewolf attack and he could always hide when things became dangerous - in case James and Sirius failed to protect him. So he chose to stick with his big friends who would look after him rather than be alone (and perhaps risk being regarded by them as an enemy who knew their dangerous secrets). 

I guess a lot depends on how we define courage and cowardice. Who is braver - the one who tries to befriend "the biggest bully in the playground" or the one who chooses to be an ordinary Hufflepuff and tries to live in harmony with himself and the world despite the circumstances? I don't regard Peter's friendship with James and Sirius as proof of his courage any more than I regard his joining Voldemort as proof of his courage but I can imagine that Peter wanted to be brave. That could be a reason why he may have wanted to be in Gryffindor and the Hat may have decided to give him his chance...

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Peter Pettigrew

Post  Hieronymus Graubart on Tue Dec 31, 2013 12:26 pm

You are right, Julia. When Peter found out that Remus was a werewolf, it was too late to retreat, and he couldn’t retreat very far anyway. But although I don’t think very high of James Potter, I cannot imagine that admiration was all Peter ever contributed to the Marauders’ feats. If he hadn’t displayed some "daring and nerve", would they have valued his admiration enough to let him come as close as he obviously was to them? Of course, most of this may have been a fake display to hide his insecurity, and in hindsight, Sirius could see through it.

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Re: Observations in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"

Post  Julia H. on Tue Dec 31, 2013 2:38 pm

Of course, Peter may have displayed more than just admiration for the group leader. It would be hard to say that he can't have shown any trace of courage any moment in his life. All I can say is that here's a character who has acted cowardly more than once in his life for sure because we know that from the books and we have never actually seen him behave bravely or even chivalrously, nor do we have any proof that he has ever been brave or chivalrous. Yet, this man is a Gryffindor. 

By the way, I'm inclined to think that real (Gryffindor) courage may not be just the nerve to face dangerous situations but a tendency to risk one's own safety, life etc. for the sake of others. It is to put others' interests before your own. Real Slytherins will tend to save their own necks first. (Is it Phineas Nigellus who says this?) That would make Peter a Slytherin and Snape a Gryffindor. Yet, it is the other way round, and we know that Snape wanted to be in Slytherin.

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Chapter 12: Professor Umbridge

Post  Hieronymus Graubart on Sat Jan 04, 2014 9:08 am

Slytherin observation Nr. 37

She did it again:
The Slytherins at the front of the class all looked up eagerley; they loved hearing Snape taunt Harry.
It’s very suggestive, but are all Slytherins at the front of the class, or did some of them find a table further back? Am I allowed to imagine that the Slytherins at the front of the class are just Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle and Parkinson [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], who indeed all love to hear Snape taunt Harry?

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Courage vs. Bravery (answering to Julia)
You might belong in Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve and chivalry set Gryffindors apart;
By Gryffindor, the bravest were prized far beyond the rest;
Said Gryffindor, ‘We’ll teach all those with brave deeds to their name,’
...
While the bravest and the boldest went to daring Gryffindor.

Did you notice that the Sorting Hat never talks about Gryffindors’ "courage"? This may just be because "brave" fits better into the lines of its songs than "courageous", and "courage" is covered by "daring", "nerve" and "boldness". But although I don’t feel really sure about the subtile nuances of this foreign language, I think that JKR may have chosen these words very deliberately.

So here are some more questions to native speakers:

Is bravery = "overcoming your fear" and "risking your safety for the sake of others" while courage is more about "being fearless" and "having the nerve to face dangerous situations (mostly for selfish reasons)"?

Is the Sorting Hat referring to the less amiable aspects of "courage" when it talks about Gryffindors’ "daring", "nerve" and "boldness"? Am I right to feel connotations of stupidity and bullying there?

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Re: Observations in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"

Post  Julia H. on Sat Jan 04, 2014 10:04 am

Until our native English speakers answer your question, I will keep wondering whether bullying is compatible with chivalry or, as a matter of fact, with any sort of courage... (Bullies are people who enjoy hurting those who are weaker than themselves - if anything, it sounds like cowardice to me.) All right, Gryffindor probably welcomes both the chivalrously brave and the (stupidly) daredevil, and you can definitely find bullies there as well (cough James Potter cough), yet bullying tendencies in themselves can't make a student a Gryffindor, otherwise Crabbe, Goyle and even Malfoy would be in Gryffindor House, too - there's nothing Crabbe and Goyle can do as well as bullying others.

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Chapter 13: Detention with Dolores

Post  Hieronymus Graubart on Sun Jan 05, 2014 8:15 am

No. I don’t waste a Slytherin observation number for this. It’s just Draco Malfoy and "his usual gang of Slytherin cronies" again: "Crabbe, Goyle, Pansy Parkinson [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]". There is really nothing new here.

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Julia, I didn’t want to imply that bullying tendencies can make somebody a Gryffindor. I thought of the Sorting Hat choosing its words carefully to tell us that not every Gryffindor is expected to be a perfect hero, like not every Slytherin is expected to be a perfect villain. Each house has to cover a wide range of behaviour, otherwise nearly everybody would be in Hufflepuff house, which gets some kind descriptions of its own, but also takes “the rest”.

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Re: Observations in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"

Post  Julia H. on Sun Jan 05, 2014 9:31 am

...not every Gryffindor is expected to be a perfect hero, like not every Slytherin is expected to be a perfect villain.

I completely agree with that.    

My original suggestion was that maybe the student's wish (or choice) is what matters most. If you think you are brave or you simply want to be brave or you perhaps want to follow your friends or the family tradition and therefore you really want to be a Gryffindor, perhaps the Hat will simply give you a chance. You may want to be a Slytherin because you want to be with your family members or because you like the pronounced Slytherin values of cunning and ambition or because that's where pureblood wizards are or because you think Slytherin is for brainy kids - if you really want it, the Hat will grant you your wish. The Hat will also introduce the Houses before the Sorting begins, perhaps to give kids a last minute chance to make up (or to change) their minds and it will also make individual suggestions the way he did in Harry's case but it will probably take the student's wish into consideration. There must also be students who simply leave the decision to the Hat, but some of them have strong wishes - or, if you like, choices. Not surprisingly, these choices are not always based on real self-knowledge or on objective facts, so some students may seemingly end up in the "wrong" house. But then again, perhaps there is no "wrong house", since most people have complex personalities, and the kids will change as they grow up. Of course, the acknowledged house values may reinforce a tendency. 

"There's no need to tell me I'm not brave enough to be in Gryffindor, Malfoy's already done that," Neville choked out.

Harry felt in the pocket of his robes and pulled out a Chocolate Frog, the very last one from the box Hermione had given him for Christmas. He
gave it to Neville, who looked as though he might cry.

"You're worth twelve of Malfoy," Harry said. "The Sorting Hat chose you for Gryffindor, didn't it? And where's Malfoy? In stinking Slytherin."

Neville's lips twitched in a weak smile as he unwrapped the frog.

The mere fact that he is a Gryffindor may help Neville believe in his own innate bravery and ultimately may make him brave. Would he have become the same person in Hufflepuff? We don't know.

Yet, these things don't always work out in the same way. Peter, for example, ended up a coward, even though he was brought up in Gryffindor, while Cedric was undoubtedly brave and chivalrous even though that's not what Hufflepuffs are famous for. Could we say Cedric didn't need to be a Gryffindor to be a hero? I could continue with other characters... but I won't.   

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Chapter 14: Percy and Padfoot

Post  Hieronymus Graubart on Sun Jan 12, 2014 7:33 am

Slytherin observation Nr. 38 ?

The Slytherin Quidditch team and assorted hangers-on try to interfere with Ron’s training, and Harry is understandably furious. But is this a sign of general Slytherin evilness or just what we should expect with competitive team sports? We don’t want to abandon Quidditch after all.

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], so I want to add:

If [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], who are still not on my list of Slytherins to be disliked, are still on the Slytherin Quidditch team, their presence here might be forced by team loyalty and peer pressure, and it’s possible that Harry just doesn’t notice that they don’t jeer and catcall as viciously as the others, so I wouldn’t change their status anyway.

Can we be sure that all the hangers-on are Slytherins, if there are even more than just Malfoy’s usual cronies?

Does this even deserve a Slytherin observation number?

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I’m so glad I joined this (resp. the old) forum several years ago. My perception is sometimes limited by my overdeveloped analytical skills, thus I would never have considered thoughts like "Neville became a hero because he was a Gryffindor" or "Cedric didn’t need to be a Gryffindor to be a hero".

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Re: Observations in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"

Post  Julia H. on Sun Jan 12, 2014 10:00 am

Well, I didn't mean to reinforce the association between heroism and being a Gryffindor, I only tried to point out that the acknowledged values of a given House may influence the development of students, but, of course, we can't tell just how much. Neville, as a child, certainly had issues with courage, but he was reassured from the beginning that he was a Gryffindor so he had to be brave, and in the end he turned out to be very brave, indeed. He might have become the same in another House, still I can't help wondering how much being a Gryffindor helped him. Similar tendencies could probably be observed in the other Houses as well, but we don't know as much about them as about Gryffindor. The phenomenon that a child may become what he / she is believed to be is known in psychology, but there are always lots of factors that together determine a child's development. As I have said, Peter remained (became?) a coward even in Gryffindor. 

Cedric didn't grow up in a House where courage was regarded as the most important of values, yet, no one can deny that he was very brave. Still, there must have been a reason why he was Sorted into Hufflepuff. In fact, according to Dumbledore, "Cedric was a person who exemplified many of the qualities that distinguish Hufflepuff house...". Now, Hufflepuff is said to be very tolerant and accepting everyone regardless of birth or abilities. Yet, Cedric's name suggests nobility and heroism. Cedric is a character in Walter Scott's Ivanhoe - a very brave character, but not someone you would easily associate with Hufflepuff values, in my opinion. However, the name is a variation of the original form Cerdic, the name of the first king of Anglo-Saxon Wessex. Throughout the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, kings and heroes are stated to be descendants of Cerdic, which apparently means that their lineage is the best possible. JKR probably suggests something with this name (as she so often does), but Cedric's parents may have had certain expectations, too. That's what I meant when I said Cedric may not have needed Gryffindor to be a hero.

However, if we take Ron, for example, I guess if he had been Sorted into any other House, his self-confidence would have been badly shaken - family traditions taught him that the best House was Gryffindor and the best wizards were Gryffindors. 

Then again, Snape, for one, had probably never heard anyone say that he was brave until Dumbledore told him on the night of the Yule Ball (when he looked rather astonished), and we know that he himself believed his brains to be his strong point, yet, he ends up being named the bravest man a certain very brave Gryffindor ever knew. He was a reluctant hero, who may have found courage through a course of tragical events or as a gift of love perhaps; but I suspect that even as a boy, he may have had issues with a perceived Gryffindor "monopoly" on courage. It seems to me at least, that although as a first-year student he refused Gryffindor House, afterwards for years he kept trying to defeat Gryffindors at their own game of bravery. In the end, as an adult, he won the game of courage and self-sacrifice (in Harry's eyes at least), but he did it in a Slytherin way.

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Re: Observations in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"

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