Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Great Harry Potter Reread Part 1

I would say most people have that story that they just keep coming back to over & over. Something about it gets associated with comfort or happiness. Like that first book one of your parents or teachers read to you as a child. Maybe it's the movie you watch when you're sick. It could even be the first story where you found yourself in a character or the first time you were exposed to a world view that is not your own. It really doesn't matter what the reason is we all have that story. Mine is the Harry Potter series. It was half accident & half good timing but those are the books that sparked my love of reading and by doing so opened my life up to so many adventures. 

Over last year I had been talking to my friends about how long it's been since we've read them all consecutively. I mean the last movie  was released 5 years ago already!! I have gotten wrapped up in other stories & adventures since the Deathly Hallows book was released which has been wonderful but it was time to go back. So I pitched the idea of a book club to my friends in which we would spend the year rereading Harry Potter. The loved it and thus The Great Harry Potter Reread was born!

We recently had our first book club meeting, and I feel like I should say I've never been a part of a book club before so this is all new for me. I was pleased that our first gathering went so well, and can't wait till we have our next! We covered The Sorcerer's Stone & The Chamber of Secrets at this meeting planning to cover only one book at each following meeting. I thought I'd share with you briefly some highlights of the things we talked about. 

Sorting & Wands

Of course we talked about what our houses would be & what our wands would be! Have  you met a die hard fan that doesn't?? It was interesting to see what people said of them the tally is thus: Me & C. are as Gryffindors, R. & M. as Hufflepuffs, J. & S. as Slytherines, and A. believes she would be a Ravenclaw. So we are pretty spread out. But we talked a lot more about how just one thing can push you from one house into another. For example I teeter the fence between Gryffindor & Ravenclaw but what tips me over to the Gryffindor is my insatiable urge to explore & adventure just for the sake of doing so. The wand discussion was a little less thought out because not as many people think about it really. My favorite quote was from S. "I think my wand would be something just super powerful." Always thinking of getting stuff done ;) 

What did Dumbledore see?

Fun topic to discuss because we will never really know but we spent some time on what we thought Dumbledore would have seen in the Mirror of Erised. Several of us thought it likely he saw his sister, and one actually suggested that he may have really seen socks but I thought the most interesting point here was when someone asked if what you can see changes as you change. I think it's very likely I used Ron as an example because he sees himself all alone in the first book and I doubt very much if he had looked in that mirror in the last book he would have seen himself alone. 

Bully Behavior & Abuse

We discussed the parallels between Harry & Snape because both were bullied pretty badly. Also since many of us work or have worked in mental health we discussed bully behavior & how remarkable it is Harry chose multiple times not to bully others or seek revenge. Where as Snape continued the circle of bullying by bullying a child as an adult. 

On a related note that led us into a discussion of how abusive the Dursleys actually are to Harry. How did they not get the British CPS called on them? I mean there were some pretty serious signs of abuse & neglect going on even for the 80's. What stands out is Harry's resilience to both the abuse from his aunt & uncle and the bullying he faces at school. 

Harry Could Have Been Slytherin

We are told later in the series that the reason the Sorting Hat wanted to put Harry in Slytherin is because of the scar/horcrux leaving residual Voldemort behind. In Chamber of Secrets Dumbledore tells us that really we get to choose our house. I am not disputing either of those factors. Nor would anyone else I think, but we did agree that Harry could have easily been a Slytherin all on his own merrit. He left the Dursley's house determined to prove himself as a wizard. He also proves over & over again that he will not leave things alone until he has proven his case or completed his task. One could also argue that his inability to back down from a challenge is always ambitious and only sometimes brave. We also touched on the fact that if Harry had grown up in the wizarding world he almost assuredly would have been sorted differently. He would have been far more arrogant & likely had a different perspective on life all together. I think Harry was sorted where he should have been but I also agree with the Hat he would have done well in Slytherin.

New Appreciation of Book 2

This one is pretty self explainatory. If you have finished the series (books or movies) you realize when reading through Chamber of Secrets just how many people, items, plot threads, and social dynamics are introduced for the first time in this book. I don't need to list them all here but be ready for us to reference back to CoS when we get to the development of those ideas later. I myself can't wait for the group members that haven't read them before to see just how much they are more developed in the books. 

Random Character Thoughts

Dobby - It was almost unanimous that we hated Dobby in CoS (but that he grows on you later). It felt like just non-stop over the top ridiculousness with him. And as C. brought up how do you get from "I want to save his life" to "the best way to do that is send a bludger after him." 

Dumbledore - We didn't spend a lot of time on Dumbledore because most of the conversation about him has already been posted on the internet. What stood out though was our consensus on the fact that Dumbledore utilized his portrait network way more than you think about when you are reading the books the first time. We did discuss his unique knack for knowing where Harry is under the Invisibility Cloak even though it is never clearly stated if he can actually see him or not. We know he is very perceptive, so it is possible he could over hear small movements & Harry hushing Ron etc, but we did consider that it may have something to do with the fact that as the owner of the Elder Wand he may be able to see him or know where he is because both objects are Deathly Hallows. 

Neville - To be fair we mostly used Neville as a comparison for house traits. What makes Neville great as a character is he reminds us that the traits prized by Gryffindor (and other houses) can be found in all types for people not just the stereotype. He did come up when we discussed how Harry's personality might have been different if he were to have lived in the wizarding world his whole life. We questioned whether Harry was able to break the chain of bullying because he experienced life with the Dursley's or whether that was just his character. We decided on character. Again Neville becomes the comparison because he was bullied at Hogwarts as well but it was decided that if he had to grow up with the Dursleys they most likely would have broken him. Thankfully he didn't because Neville is irreplaceable!

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