Sunday, November 1, 2015

Revisiting Potter, Part 7: The Deathly Hallows

Well, I finally finished my re-read of the Harry Potter. Yes, that one I started over two years ago and intended to complete in just a couple of months. Somehow, time has dragged while also slipping through my fingers. It's annoying how that works.

Anyway, I was so excited to finally finish reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, because Colin and I had also been doing a simultaneous movie re-watch. I wouldn't allow the movie version to be viewed again before I had finished the book, so you can probably understand, knowing how long ago I read the 6th book, my husband's impatience. This final installment was particularly fun to get into, because I distinctly remember my life exactly when this book came out in 2007. Unlike the earlier books that are relegated in my mind to generic high school memories, I remember devouring this book while spending a month babysitting in Maine--after the kids had finished it, of course. But despite remembering the minute details of my life at this point, I still would not have been able to give you a plot synopsis of Harry Potter's final chapter.

After this time around, I hope to remember it better.

When book 7 opens, Harry is lost. He's uncertain of his next move. He's grasping for a solution without the guidance of his brilliant, fearless leader. The confidence he's had for the past 6 years is gone; essentially, his whole world is rocked.

But the reason Harry Potter is a great character, a great hero, is that he forges on. He is tasked with the impossible--conquering the most powerful, dangerous wizard in history. It's a task that may not end well (remember, "neither can live while the other survives"), but Harry is a noble leader--it is his duty to see this fight to the end.

The tale of the Deathly Hallows provides a new twist to Harry Potter's seemingly endless quest. There are three infamous, rumored artifacts that have the power to conquer death, and Harry figures Voldemort is after them. Much of the story follows Harry, Hermione, and Ron on their quest around the world for the Elder Wand and Resurrection Stone, avoiding the Death Eaters that are anxious to find them. The pressure to find answers and avoid capture exacerbates the tension that is felt by our main characters, even amongst these three that are closer than most. In this highly anxious environment, the reader is reminded that these characters are human, with scattered emotions and potentially volatile behaviors. I think, during these moments, Rowling shows us some of the truest, realest characterizations, and we love them even more for their arguments and outbursts.

Essentially, this book ties up all the many loose ends that have been lingering throughout the previous six books. And though Deathly Hallows gives us a new piece to the puzzle, those pieces are finally fitting together as Harry Potter's world is explained. Naturally, it must end with a battle, and that battle is the penultimate culminating scene; textbooks can point to the Battle of Hogwarts as the very definition of climax.

When the smoke has cleared and it's all over and done with, we're left with a reassured sense of satisfaction, as if we can finally exhale with the trust that all is well.

There are few stories with as much renown as Harry Potter, few with such heart. I truly believe there is nothing else like it. I'm lucky to have been around to experience firsthand as the story unfolded, and I'm thankful that these stories exist to inspire, intrigue, and invigorate readers as generations pass.

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