Monday, August 30, 2010

Prisoner of Azkaban Chapters 14-15

Snape, Snape, Severus Snape

Once again, we find our little hero in a spot of trouble with our favorite potions master. This time, he's accused of being in Hogsmeade without permission. Our newly-christened teen needs to learn how to lie better. Having a staring contest with Severus Snape is not the best way to convince him of your innocence, Mr. Potter. Harry thinks that by looking Snape in the eyes, he will better be able to portray honesty. Wrong-o. We'll learn in the 5th book that this is a tactically inferior move.

In this particular instance, I actually agree with Snape. With Black on the loose, Harry shouldn't have been skulking around Hogsmeade unprotected. Then again, how exciting would the book be if Harry spent all his free time in his room brooding about how unfair life is. Oh, wait, that's the 5th book.

Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs

When Snape summons Lupin to his dungeons to probe about the map, there's a lot of between-the-lines dialogue that is both said and unsaid.

1. Snape suggests that Harry got the map "directly from the manufacturers." - this suggests that either Harry or Lupin know who the "manufacturers" are.

2. Lupin asks Harry if he knows the "manufacturers." - Here, Lupin knows that Harry doesn't know who they are, but is betting on Harry's ignorance to get him out trouble.

3. The map insults Snape when he tries to get it to reveal its secrets. - This suggests that those who made the map know Snape.

4. We already knew that Lupin knew James and that Snape knew James. It only makes logical sense that Snape knew Lupin before Lupin became a teacher. I don't think Harry, at this point, puts these puzzle pieces together.

5. Because Snape and Lupin knew each other and that the makers of the map knew Snape, it would make sense that Lupin knows what the map is. I think Snape knows that Lupin knows what it is, and I'm pretty sure Lupin knew that Snape knew. Neither of them wanted to show their "cards" in front of Harry. The fact that Harry gets away with this and that Lupin pulls one over on Snape just increases Snapes hatred of both of them.

Watch Out ESPN

Rowling is actually a pretty good sports commentator. She not only has to balance the action, but has to incorporate Lee's commentating as well as what's going on inside Harry's head. With all that going on, I could see the action easily getting bogged down with a lot of words, but Rowling does a great job of keeping the action going. With the number of Quidditch matches that happen during the series, it becomes a difficult to make the matches interesting and unique. Rowling does a great job of avoiding the cliche and individualizing each match. I think it's great that Harry doesn't win every match. It's pretty "Rocky-esque."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Prisoner of Azkaban Chapters 12-13

Ron Ruined It!

At one point in Chapter 12, Hermione was about to explain something about Professor Lupin, but Ron, being the thick twit that he is interrupts Hermione so that they never find out what she knew. It turns out that what she knew would have a big impact on the end of the story, but I won't give it away.

Captain Clueless

As Harry and Ron are walking back from Quidditch practice one evening, they notice Crookshanks in the distance. The author notes that Crookshanks disappeared by a certain tree. Come on super sleuths, pay attention to where the cat went! It seems like in this book, more than any other, Harry and Ron don't pay attention to things around them that could give them clues to the mystery surrounding Sirius Black. It seems that Harry really isn't focused on the man who is out to kill him. I sure would be. I would want to know as much about him as possible.

Cho Changers and Cedric Shin-Diggory

Once again, we see the pattern Rowling uses of introducing characters before they become relevant to the overall plot. Cho gets introduced to the series in this chapter, but really doesn't play a larger role until the next two books. It's nice to re-read the books and say, "Wow, I didn't realize this character was talked about in this book." Cho isn't the only character who will become more relevant that is introduced early. Cedric Diggory is also revealed in this book as the Hufflepuff Quidditch captain.

Worthy of note here is the mention that the actor who portrayed Cedric in the movies is none other than the undead celebate vampire, Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen). Thanks to Sam O. and Roger P, we've come up with some great alternate names for Cedric: Undead Cedric, Deadric Diggory, Edward Cufflepuff, Ced-rigor-mortis Diggory, Grave Diggory, "Avada Kedavra" Cullen, and Dead-ward Cullen.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Prisoner of Azkaban Chapters 10-11

For Diane O.... because you so love my blog.

Tests of Loyalty

I'm not sure if you've noticed, but I have sure seen a decrease in loyalty in our society. Gone are the days of an entire city being devoted to one sports team. Seldom do you find consumers shopping at a single store out of loyalty (Ahem, Walmart.) And rarely do you see loyalty to a political figure and going even further, loyalty of that political figure to his or her office. People these days even jump ship on religions like they're fads. I can tell by the way she writes, that JK Rowling values loyalty as this is one of the major themes (and my favorite) that comes out throughout the book. Bonds of loyalty and trust and tried, tested, and sometimes even broken. In Chapter 10 of this book, Harry finds himself in the hospital wing because of a fall from his broomstick. Harry, being the moody teen he is, dwells on his overwhelming problems: his broken broomstick, quidditch, the issue with the dementors, the grim, and the fugitive, Sirius Black. We get a firsthand look inside Harry's head because he's the protagonist of the story, but what is not to be overlooked is that while Harry is lying in the hospital wing, Ron and Hermione "left Harry's bedside only at night." I don't think this is a superfluous tidbit added by Rowling; rather, I prefer to believe she did it intentionally to reenforce the theme of loyalty because their loyalty to Harry will be severely tested later in the series.

Keeping with the theme of loyalty, we see in this book that although Dumbledore is an extremely accomplished and powerful wizard, he has earned the respect of others. It has been said that the true test of character is how you treat your subordinates.... or something like that. We've already seen acts of loyalty demonstrated by Hagrid in earlier books and I'll reitterate those as more examples come later on. In this chapter, we see a demonstration of loyalty to Dumbledore by McGonagall. During her conversation with Fudge, Flitwick, and Hagrid in the Three Broomsticks, McGonagall unquestionably backs Dumbledore when Fudge mentions the dementors being angry with Dumbledore.

Christmas Bells are Ringing... blah blah blah blah blah blah.

During the Christmas feast, Professor Trelawny notices the absence of Professor Lupin. Dumbledore gives the excuse that he's ill. However, Professor Lupin has not been seen in the hospital wing... suspicious. Perhaps he knew he was going to be sick, and perhaps this is why he didn't want to start anti-dementor lessons with Harry until after break. I don't think he was really busy... hmmmm.

It's a Freaking Broomstick

It takes true talent to write about a plain object like a broomstick and make the readers yearn for one the same way they'd pine for a new sports car. As I was reading about Harry and Ron's excitement over the Firebolt, I had to stop and remind myself that it's a stupid broomstick she's describing. There is no such thing as a Firebolt, yet I found myself jealous that Harry had one and I didn't... :(