Friday 24 May 2013

"'Stuff like that always sounds cooler than it really was... I've been trying to tell you that for years.'"

My understanding about this readalong group (other than our innate awesomeness) is that everyone hates the bit where they go camping in the woods for almost no reason. I might be wrong about this (SOMEONE might like it) but that's the impression I get, AND SO I am going to defend the camping with all my arguing skills and also, hopefully, wit.
But first, I think it's important to talk about what happens in the Ministry because oh HELLO one of my favourite set-pieces in Harry Potter! I mean, what DON'T I love about it? There's the nostalgia element (puking pastilles from OotP, Polyjuice Potion from CoS), the flushing themselves into the Ministry (I laugh at the bits ten year olds laugh at, obviously) Harry being a big scary man, the getting one up on Umbridge (who of course- OF COURSE- had the locket. Because why wouldn't she?) and just the general excitement of it all. Scenes in the Ministry=Pretty much the best.

While we're on the subject of Umbridge, who I believe has made her final appearance now (?) and that's ok, I just... What is WRONG with that woman? I feel like her character type is almost the one that scares me the most, because all that motivates her, and all she wants, is power of any type, at any cost. She doesn't care who the ultimate authority is, as long as SHE'S in a position of power over a lot of people. She's basically like a Commandant of a Concentration Camp who, after all this is over, would say 'but I was just doing my job!' and probably believe it, too. I just... UGH. UGH.
ALSO before we get to the camping (sorry...) I just want to talk about Dumbles and Harry for a sec. Because, even though I'm still not sure what good finding out all this stuff about Dumbledore does Harry/us, I feel like Harry makes a really good point when he finds out that Dumbles lived in Godric's Hollow too. I mean... Why didn't Dumbledore ever tell Harry that? Couldn't he have arranged for them to go there and see the monument to his parents and just to heal, a little bit? I get that it would be difficult for Dumbledore to go there because of all the Bad Things, but... I feel like Harry needed that kind of thing, or at least that he needs it now as something to hold onto about Dumbles. Instead, it really does feel like he sort of just used Harry for his own gain (and that of the Wizarding World, obviously, but still) and never really did anything just for Harry.

I'm hoping other things are going to happen that I don't remember about Dumbledore, because I hate thinking this way about him.
So, the camping! I can't say that it's my absolute favourite part of all the books, and it makes me slightly grouchy when THEY are grouchy, but the thing is... I feel like, firstly, it was an inevitable consequence of all three of them being in close quarters without a set goal, because my GOD, people do get sick of each other quickly enough. And yeah, they've been together at school for years, but in that situation, there's routine, and there's enough food, and there are other people around so they don't get as sick of each other. And the not having enough food leading to arguing thing? TOTALLY happens. It's just like real life, people!

And then, of course, Ron leaves.
Ron leaves because he's the least prepared for such an expedition (one where he might have to deprive himself of a meal, say) and because, I don't know, JK likes him the least? But the thing is- I LIKE that Ron leaves, because when he's gone, things don't feel right at all- Harry and Hermione are both miserable, nothing improves, A SNAKE IS HIDING INSIDE A DEAD PERSON (seriously- ew) and when he came back I was really really ridiculously happy? Which is really the reason for all bad things happening in books, so that when the bad time is over, things seem kind of excellent.

It doesn't hurt that Ron's return involves saving Harry's life, destroying a Horcrux (just fyi, the thing the Horcrux says about Ron being the least loved because his mother wanted a daughter has stuck with me as a massive Thing That Is True, which I know it isn't- other than, I'd imagine, that Molly did just keep going until she had a girl. But anyway.) And THEN you also have the thing where you realised that Dumbles must have known all along that Ron would probably leave, and then regret it and want to go back, and THAT'S why he left him the Deluminator. (Or is it? I'm not being cryptic, I just honestly don't know. AS ALWAYS).

I don't really have any extra things to say in bullet points today, but I do just want to talk about this one thing that really annoyed me. Here: "[Harry] was staggered now to think of his own presumption in accepting his friends' offers to accompany him on this meandering, pointless journey." I see you all nodding at the meandering, pointless journey part (but what if the journey itself is the point? What then?!) but HOW MANY times did he tell them not to come? And how many times did they insist? Exactly! Stop blaming yourself all the damn time, Harry. Jesus.
Speaking of which... Death count time!
Death Count: 4- Gregorovitch, Bathilda Bagshot, Harry's wand (RIP), The Third Part of Voldy's Soul.
Death Count Overall: 8 (9 if you include George's ear. Which apparently we are.)


  1. Okay, take 2. My stupid internet just ate my last comment. Rest assured it was amazing and insightful and you would have probably died with wonderment.

    I LIKE the camping scenes! I don't find it slow or annoying or whatever the usual complaints are. I like seeing them struggle with the realisation that they aren't as prepared as they assumed they were, or that adventuring is hard when it doesn't fall into their lap in the comforts of their school.

    Umbridge. Man oh man she is the WORST. The thing is, I can kinda understand the attitudes of ministry workers (maybe not in this book but before) that were annoyed/angry with the Order inciting panic without proof, but Umbridge actually takes pleasure from destroying anyone opposed to her. The thing with Moody's eye? MENTAL.

    1. I always die with wonderment when you say stuff. I just want you to know that.

      YES TO ALL OF THIS! I feel like the camping is kiiind of necessary, and if not necessary, than it's still, like, interesting in what it reveals. Like I said though, I feel like this is going to be one of those things where I SAY that no one likes something, and it turns out that actually no one minds it at all! But oh wellll :)

      She really is The Worst. I just... I mean, yeah, I can even see how she might not believe this 15 year old saying he saw Voldy come back, and I can understand people not wanting to believe that, but at this point, she KNOWS exactly what's going on, and instead of trying to stop it, she's just making everything worse! Because she's an EVILFACE.

    2. Does that mean you have horcruxes Laura?

    3. (since you die of wonderment but can come back to life?

  2. I for some reason feel like things drag during all the camping bits - which I'm starting to suspect is JK's doing, because she does SUCH a good job at showing how tedious and dull and sucky it is having to camp with little food & info. Although, they didn't have to starve, they could have Apparated more often to get food.

    Umbridge is god awful and I agree with you on every point there.

    As for the Dumbledore/Harry thing - Dumbledore tried his hardest to make their relationship was very professor/student, and then adult/adolescent, & Dumbly seemed like a really private person. I feel like Harry's being petty about all this. If he wanted that kind of bonding or information about Dumbledore, he should have asked. But he didn't think Dumbles would have any connection to his own life (Godric's Hollow) so he didn't bother, which is kind of self-involved.

    Phew! That was rambly. My bad, LOL

    1. Yeah, I definitely feel like... couldn't Ron and Hermione just have gone to get food, while Harry hid because he's the most recognisable? Whatever, I don't know. But yeah, I think DEFINITELY if that bit drags then it does help with the whole kind of 'this is terrible, why are we doing this' ness of this section (I didn't really feel like it dragged, but I DID read it in like 5 seconds because that's what happens when I'm let loose with Harry Potter!)

      I do see your point here, but I just... I feel like Dumbles could have done more. And the thing is, he asks SO MUCH of Harry (which he basically admits to himself), but he doesn't really give anything back to him in terms of like emotional closeness or anything, and it's just a bit sad? I at least can see why Harry's upset, even if he doesn't necessarily fully have the right to be.


  3. "Why didn't Dumbledore ever tell Harry that? Couldn't he have arranged for them to go there and see the monument to his parents and just to heal, a little bit?" I...this is a good point. Wtf Dumbles?

    I neither hate nor love the camping scenes. I guess when I think back on them I wish they had done more planning, but it doesn't bother me while I'm reading.

    Thank you for the death count because I keep forgetting about people and holy hell, does she off a lot of people.

    1. I know right? I just... I don't know what he was doing. He goes and collects Harry so HARRY can convince Slughorn to work at Hogwarts, and they can't do a little detour to Godric's Hollow? WTF.

      Ah, good. I KNEW this was going to be a thing that actually no one hates haha! But but they couldn't do more planning because they didn't know they wouldn't be able to go back to Grimmauld Place! And I wouldn't trade the Ministry bit for ANYTHING.

      TELL me about it. I don't even know how I'm going to keep up with the deaths in the last section!

    2. But WHY couldn't they do anymore planning out in the woods? Cos it seems the only thing they are doing during that time is waiting for...something? They stand guard, they sometimes eat crappy food, they move to a new location, repeat. You'd think if only to kill time they'd come up with something to do next.

    3. Well they SORT of do... They try to figure out what they can kill horcruxes with, and then try to think of places Voldy might have others, and they like go to his orphanage and stuff- it's just that THOSE aren't the bits that are highlighted, the bits that have the most prominence are the sniping and boredom bits, and I don't think that's for no reason. Anyway, I think they should just go to Hogwarts like Harry said *looks around significantly*

  4. Your thoughts on Dumbledore = YES. He did really let Harry down and I don't understand why. His twinkle has betrayed us. Also yes to the Ron being least loved thing. I wonder if JKR had this planned from the very beginning when she designed the Weasley family tree. If so, kudos to her for making it work. I GUESS Ron's likely departure is why he was left the Deluminator, but it feels more like a deus ex machina than anything, which I'm rather meh on. If anything, I think he leaves so that Harry can cry without him around, which is something I meant to talk about and will have to bring up next week, but he totally gets to cry in front of just Hermione while Ron cries in front of him and I think it's a total LAME gender role expectation thing that I can't articulate well right now but it makes me very angsty.