Wednesday, February 07, 2007

One Left, Two to Go

Book #7. July 21. Thirty-five dollars per book. 325 million Potter books sold worldwide. 10 years since Potter first appeared in print. Forty percent off if you reserve your book at Borders Books and Music. There are dozens of numbers surrounding the release date announcement of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. The most important number announced on February 1? Two.

J.K. Rowling has announced that two characters will die in the final installment of the Harry Potter series. She also has said that the two characters that die in the final Potter book were not originally slated to have such grim endings, a fact which makes it difficult to predict which characters won’t make it to the last pages of the series. But if Rowling continues on her path of killing progressively more important and beloved characters as the story goes on (first Cedric, the Sirius and Dumbledore), the final two to go could be doozies.

Hopefully, we can assume that one character to die in Deathly Hollows will be Lord Voldemort. Otherwise, seriously, what is the point of the series? Though Rowling has taunted her fans by dangling the possibility of killing Harry off in Hollows under their noses, it is doubtful that she will do it. I don’t doubt that she has the guts to do it (my mother still hasn’t forgiven her for killing off Dumbledore), but it wouldn’t be consistent with the magical rules she has spent six books introducing and explicating.

Harry has too many magical binds that will protect him from death. The Durselys, Wormtail, Dobby, Gwarp, most likely Snape, and almost any other creature he has treated with kindness or wizard whose life he has saved: all of these ties put together could be strong enough to save him. On top of that, he has many loyal followers who would sacrifice themselves in order to give Harry a better shot at killing Voldemort.

I hate to say it, but my prediction for the second person to die is Ron. There are many people in the series that Harry loves and is close too, but Ron is his closest friend, not even second to Ginny or Hermione. If Ron were to die, it would be consistent with the death pattern Rowling has established.

More importantly, Ron has a history of self sacrifice. In The Sorcerer’s Stone Ron guides the trio in a wicked game of wizard’s chess. He plays the Knight piece, and knowingly and willingly sacrifices himself so Harry can checkmate the King.

“Who cares about what Ron did in the first book?” you may wonder. “Facing a giant sized chess piece that may clobber you is scary, facing Lord Voldemort is by far scarier.” But Ron’s actions in the first book are important, just as Harry and Hermione’s were. Their actions establish their characters, and so far their characters have remained consistent in that respect. At the end of The Sorcerer’s Stone, Dumbledore commends Hermione, Harry, Neville, and Ron for the following characteristics:

Hermione: “the cool use of knowledge in the face of fire.” (SS, 305)
Harry: “pure nerve and outstanding courage.” (SS, 306).
Neville: “it takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but even more to stand up to our friends.” (SS, 306).
Ron: “the best played game of chess Hogwarts has seen in many years.” (SS, 305).

Since then, we have seen Hermione make logical decisions, and we’ve seen Harry do extremely brave things. But we haven’t yet seen Ron do anything particularly chess-like. No calculated movements, no logic. In fact, Ron has done just the opposite. He’s usually ridiculously wrong about whatever problem they are trying to solve.

Of course, it’s impossible to say for sure what will happen in the last book until we actually get to read it. In fact, Cedric, Sirius, and Dumbledore have all died quite suddenly and with out much foreshadowing. All we can do is predict based on the themes and magical rules Rowling has already set before us.

For more predictions from the #1 Harry Potter Fan Site, check out Mugglenet's new book.

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