Deathly Hallows, Chapter Fourteen

When Harry Potter books five, six, and seven were released, each one brought with it a wave of people who were profoundly disappointed with the new book. I don’t know if it was because people were reading too much fanfiction, or had placed their hopes on specific things happening that didn’t, or what, but it’s funny to think back now and remember the cries of “the series is ruined! Nobody could possibly love it any more. I’m never reading another book.” (or something like that, it’s how I remember it anyway. ;) ).

One specific complaint that always struck me as funny was a common gripe that the trio in Deathly Hallows spends so much darn time camping in the woods. This chapter, of course, is entirely based in the tent; so is the next one, and so is chapter eighteen. But… that’s it. I can understand being frustrated if it seems to move a little slowly (after all, it’s supposed to feel slow, as it wouldn’t make much sense for the Horcrux hunt to be quick and easy – remember that we’re seeing this all from Harry’s point of view), but three chapters out of thirty-seven? It just never struck me as particularly irksome. I’ll go on the record and say that I think Rowling did a great job with all seven books… and I’m glad she’s the one writing them and not any of the people doing the complaining. :)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, chapter fourteen: ‘The Thief’

~ by Josie on January 29, 2011.

11 Responses to “Deathly Hallows, Chapter Fourteen”

  1. I know people who have complained about the woods scenes being dragged out for too long, and I believe they miss the essence of what Harry is doomed to face. The readers are presented with a volume with 37 chapters, so they know that it’s bound to end sometime. Harry doesn’t have that luxury. The time in the woods represented the unclear and the unknown future, the groping in the dark, as Harry was never really afraid of facing Voldemort as much as the fact that defeating Voldemort would be all there is for him. Doesn’t he countlessly think bitterly about how Ginny, Ron and Hermione all have a future and free will, how they can walk away whenever they want.
    Not that Rowling needed any defensive argument, but I think this one is directed towards all the disappointed readers, when Harry addresses Ron in the then in ‘Goblin’s Revenge’: “So what part of it isn’t living up to your expectations?…Did you think we’d be staying in five-star hotels? Finding a Horcrux every other day? Did you think you’d be back to Mummy by Christmas?”

  2. Ooh, I was one of those complainers, and I still am. I didn’t mind the woods all that much, though they can get a bit tiresome, I was just disappointed in the end. I believe that tons of people died that shouldn’t have (such as Lupin and Tonks, talk about the circle of life on replay) and not nearly enough of the right people died either (I so wanted Ron or Hermione to die, and I adore Hermione). And the epilogue was just unexciting. I didn’t want to read a fairy tale, and didn’t want some utterly predicable happy ending either. Though I stick by the thought that if some dark lord ever rises to power and kills Harry and Ginny, we’ll be reading “Teddy Lupin and the…”

  3. I think a lot of people count the time spent (essentially) camping out at Grimmold Place in with the camping in the woods and that increases the camping pagecount somewhat. I did find that the faffing about didn’t drag for me nearly as much during re-reading. It was just the first time through that it seemed too long.

  4. THANK YOU JOSIE!!!!!!!!! I’ve been trying to exlain this to my friends for three years, to no avail. I think it goes a long way toward showing hw IMPRESSIVE Jo’s writing is, that she can take three chapters and make them seem tedious and long – just like how the Trio feels! I have never had a problem with this part of the book – it isn’t as if the whole time is spent giving us a travelogue of the trio; they are usually discussing something relevant or the plot is somehow moving forward. The onyl part of this book I was ever disappointed with was the Epilogue – she included so little, I felt she might as well have not included it at all, and left off before it.

  5. I always felt that those camping-chapters were very important. It shows the journey of the trio, how it feels like for them. That it’s not continuously action after action. I always liked those more uneventful chapters in all of the books. They are perfect for character development and for showing their life in the magical world. And there is still a lot happening and getting explained. I really like how Rowling wrote those chapters.

  6. Lilly:

    You really would have had Harry grow up an orphan, live a crappy life for the first 11 years of his life, be under constant scrutiny, danger, pressure and fear of death for the next 7 years, lose every father figure he ever had, plus many other friends and acquaitances on the way, finally face up to Voldemort (after having actually almost died)… AND lose either Ron or Hermione??!!

    I think the whole point of the “fairytail” Epilogue is just that, after all he’s been through, Harry DESERVES a happy, simple, uneventful life with the people that have been closest to him through all the trouble, that have loved him and supported and put their lives on the line for him regardless and despite the fact that he was The Chosen One. He didn’t deserve having to survive either Hermione, Ron, or Ginny.

  7. Yes, Irene, that is exactly what I wanted. Life isn’t as simple as the epilogue made it out to be, there are always hardships to overcome. Losing a member of the golden trio would have made it more real, and that’s what I craved a reality that wasn’t so different that it couldn’t be believable. I started reading Harry Potter when I was in the fourth grade, and I remember crying so hard when I didn’t get my letter. It was real to me in so many ways, and the Epilogue ruined that fantasy to a point of near destruction. To this day I came survive Dumbledore’s death, laugh when Snape dies, and cry for Lupin, Sirius, and Tonks, but I skip an entire section to pass Fred’s death (for he is in a magical coma) and I end the book right before the epilogue (because Hermione dumps Ron and gets married to Draco, but they never live happily ever and the story is better for it).

    Sorry for ranting, no hard feelings?

  8. Lilly, your response (and many other things I’ve seen like it) are one reason I’m sad the books had the fandom build-up that they did. When my son (who’s currently one) eventually reads these books, he’s going to see them for what they are: something fixed, unchangeable, that simply are what they are. Those of us who were around when the books were released had years between each release to build up our hopes for what we wanted to happen… but ultimately the books were just as fixed for us as they will be for future generations. And so many people spent so much time hoping for specific outcomes that they were inevitably disappointed. And that’s a shame, because while the series certainly has ample flaws (I’m the first to point out many of them, and the unbelievability of the kids’ survival rate in the various battles is near the top of my list), it’s still a beautiful work, and it makes me sad that there are so many people out there who, like you, will never be able to read them without their excitement being tempered by all the expectations that were once held for them.

    I hope that, over the years, you find that the Epilogue no longer “ruins that fantasy” for you, or for the many others like you.

  9. I’m a gate-crasher to this particular party [like Draco to Slughorn’s?], but let me put in my two cents’ worth on the Epilogue, which I love! Unlike you, Lilly, I came to the series late; my older sister [the Hermione of my life] ordered me to start reading it this past Thanksgiving, and I couldn’t stop. This meant I came through it [I think] free of extraneous expectations and open to what Rowling intended. And I’d say she had in mind, not a “fairy tale” ending [much too easy] but a *comic* ending. There’s a classic distinction between tragedy and comedy that states that a tragedy ends with death, while a comedy ends with marriage. You, Lilly, seem to have wanted the Harry Potter saga to have been a tragedy. But Rowling always wanted it to be a comedy. Not to mean that life is easy; come on! There’s far more death and suffering in these books than any of us are likely to experience in our mollycoddled lifetimes [No offense, Molly!]. Indeed, those deaths haunt the Epilogue. Harry and Ginny name their children for four people who died violent deaths; the very presence [off-stage] of Teddy Lupin is a reminder of the deaths of his much-mourned parents. But I think Rowlings’s point is that all those deaths *meant* something; they were all expressions of sacrificial love to make the world a safe and loving place for those who survive them. James and Lily die to save Harry; Dumbledore and Snape die to defeat the Dark Lord, and, in Snape’s case to honor the memory of his lost love Lily. Thus the moral center of the Epilogue is Harry’s conversation with Albus Severus, in which he explains to him that he carries on the legacy of the two bravest men Harry has ever known. [Snape most poignantly; for me, the single most chilling moment in that most chilling of chapters “The Forest Again” is Harry’s realization of his deep kinship with those other “abandoned boys” Snape and Riddle]. So, too, with Teddy–the fruit of a love that was achingly tragic because it was so hard-won [All those demons Lupin had to exorcize in order to accept Tonks’s love for him] and so briefly enjoyed. But Lupin and Tonks [Remus and Dora–I don’t care that she hates being called it!] also die in the end not just to make the world a better place for Teddy, but to express their love for each other. That Teddy survives, that he grows up with a loving extended family, and that his story, too, might well end with marriage to Victoire–His presence here both acknowledges their deaths and vindicates them.

    Death is part of life [How anyone can think Rowling papers that over is beyond me]. Grief is part of life, whether large or small–like the “little bereavement” Harry feels at seeing the son most like himself leave him. But neither death nor grief is the end of life; it’s all those deaths that make it possible for that new generation of happy, expectant children to board the Hogwarts Express. That’s what makes life, in the end, a comedy [divine or not–your mileage may vary]. “All is well” does not mean “happily ever after”; it means : “Life is a hard-won gift; honor those who gave it you by being happy in it.”

  10. Gosh, David: thank you so much for all that!! It is everything I would have wanted to say and more, only expressed in a way I wasn’t able to put into words myself. =)

    I honestly find it baffling, Lilly, that you would consider 18 years of woe and losses to be reduced to a mere “fantasy” ending because finally Harry finds resolution, normalcy and happiness with his two best friends and the girl he loves, while at the same time pretending to yourself that Fred is in a “magical coma”. Basically Ron or Hermione’s death would have made everything “more real” while Fred’s death is wrong and so disturbing you lie to yourself about it?? And a whole saga fundamentally built on selfless love and the ability to love and be loved should end with Hermione and Draco’s disfunctional marriage??
    What have these people been fighting for??!! Sure, life sucks sometimes, but generally people who have this kind of problems (losing friends and family or being in a bad relationship) 1) don’t have all of these problems dumped on them together and at age 17; 2) even if they do, they certainly don’t want to see their terrible lives re-printed in books… Where’s the catharsis or escapism of litterature in that??; 3) haven’t spent their whole adolescence single-handedly fighting Voldemort and saving the world.
    You like Fred more than Ron and (disfunctional) Dramione more than Ron/Hermione… Fine. That doesn’t make it more “real”: only more depressing and pointless. What would be the message in your ending? Life is horrible, you might as well have let the rest of the world deal with Voldemort, ’cause all you’ve done definitely wasn’t worth it…?? No hope at the end of that tunnel, folks…?? Hey, a “magical coma” sure is better than death…?? That justifies seven books. Not.

    But as I said, David says it better than me. =/

  11. Great comments, David. Now that you’ve crashed the party, I hope you’ll stay! (Come to think of it, I don’t think I ever got an invitation either…)

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