Little Things That Often Go Unnoticed
As usual, spoilers for Order of the Phoenix are present, so read with caution.
J.K. Rowling has a penchant for putting little "Easter eggs" into the Harry Potter novels- little things that we barely even notice that turn out to be important later. There are also things that are the opposite- stuff that's not included that we don't really think about, but when we notice a missing detail, it makes us wonder. Not all Easter eggs are good, however. This column is to focus on such things.
One of my favourite Easter eggs is in Goblet of Fire. It says in one sentence- no more- that Fleur was eyeing Bill with interest. Most readers paid little to no attention to this, or thought nothing of it... but lo and behold, Bill and Fleur starting having their "private English lessons", wink wink, in Order of the Phoenix. Another Easter egg occurs in Goblet of Fire. Dumbledore mentions the room filled with chamberpots he found whilst taking a wrong turn to the bathroom one morning at the Yule Ball. At first we think this is just an amusing anecdote, but later it leads to the discovery of the Room of Requirement.
Now that you've got an idea of what I'm talking about, what Easter eggs do the latest book hold, or even the first 4? A darker possible Easter egg has to do with a detail in Goblet of Fire which worries me. When fake Moody puts the Imperius Curse on each of the Gryffindor kids in turn, all of them except Harry fail to throw it off. But interestingly enough, it goes into a bit more detail after the class, and Ron is still having trouble from lingering effects of the curse. He is the only student mentioned to have this problem, and as shown above, J.K. rarely includes these details for no reason. Why does this worry me? If Ron has so much trouble resisting the Imperius Curse, a favourite of Death Eaters, it could lead to disaster.
Something which caught my attention in Order of the Phoenix is in Chapter 9, when Hermione finds that Ron is prefect, and not Harry. She says (page 163 of the American edition), "No, no, it's not.. Ron's done loads of... he's really..." but is then interrupted by Mrs. Weasley coming in, and we never DO find out what makes Ron so special in Hermione's eyes. What could possibly make Hermione say something like that, unless she was trying to grab something to try and save face when she was astounded at Ron's recieving the badge?
Another clue in OoTP has to do with the mysterious barman at the Hog's Head. Earlier in the book, Moody shows Harry the photograph of the original Order of the Phoenix, and Harry sees a glimpse of Dumbledore's brother, Aberforth. Later on when the trio enters the Hog's Head, Harry notes that it smells something like goats, and also that the barman seems to be familiar. Think back to Goblet of Fire, when Dumbledore mentions in passing that Aberforth was once prosecuted for use of inappropriate charms on a goat. If Aberforth has a thing for charming goats, it makes sense to think he'd either keep some or smell like them. Since the Hog's Head smells like goats, and the barman looks familiar to Harry, the barman could quite possibly be Aberforth. After all, he is tall and has long hair and a long beard like Dumbledore.
Now we're to the unanswered questions. Each book has left us with several obvious questions, and those are the ones people tend to focus on, but there are some less obvious ones that we should be questioning.
For instance, do wands with unicorn hair have some sort of connection
to death as far as Voldemort's reign of terror goes? Several people have
pointed out that Ronan says in SS (page 253 of the American hardcover),
"Always the innocent are the first victims" when Hagrid questions
him about the unicorn. He then goes on to point out that Mars is unusually
bright. Later on, the first "real" victim of Voldemort- Cedric-
dies, and he happens to have a unicorn hair in his wand. In Roman mythology,
Mars was the god of war. So if Mars is symbolic of the war against Voldemort,
someone having unicorn hair in their wand could be a connection to premature
death as a result of Voldemort.
On the subject of wands, what are the specifics of Hermione's wand? We know the material, length, and core of the wands of several characters (Harry, Ron, Voldemort, Fleur, Krum, Cedric, Hagrid, James, and Lily), but Hermione's wand never has anything about it revealed. Why? Is it because she has no connection to death (via unicorn hair) or to another character (meaning her wand's brother is not as far as we know in possession of a character we're familiar with)? Will her wand be important in the future? And what about Hermione's family? Sure, her parents are boring Muggles, but so are the Dursleys and we hear plenty about them.
We know Dumbledore is the wizard Voldemort fears the most, but what is Dumbledore's story? We know he defeated Grindelwald, discovered the 12 uses of dragon's blood, and did some alchemy work with Nicolas Flamel, but that's it. What sort of family did he come from, what was his life at Hogwarts like, how did he come to be such a powerful and respected member of the wizarding community?
How did the ghosts come to represent the Houses they do? We know the Fat Friar was in Hufflepuff, so we presume the Bloody Baron was in Slytherin, the Grey Lady in Ravenclaw, and Nearly Headless Nick in Gryffindor when they each attended Hogwarts. So why did each ghost decide to stay and represent their House, and who designated them the "official" ghost? What about Peeves, who was he when he was alive, how long has he been at Hogwarts, and why has he been allowed to stay there for so long when he annoys the crap out of everybody?
Can the Sorting Hat be fooled or perhaps biased? If Slytherin admits only pure-blood wizards, for instance, as the Sorting Hat claims in OoTP, how did a half-blood like Tom Riddle get Sorted into it? Yes, he was descended from Slytherin himself, but he was still a half-blood, and Slytherin supposedly only admits pure-bloods. Percy Weasley is very ambitious and power-hungry, Slytherin qualities, and also betrayed his family (which given their reputation is a very Slytherin thing to do), but he was in Gryffindor. For both of these examples, could the Sorting Hat have been blinded by their families? All of the Weasleys were in Gryffindor, for instance, so was Percy just automatically placed into that House based on that fact?
by Mary McGowan
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