Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Quiz Answers

Here are the answers to the quiz:

1.) Duh, he was a death eater. Too easy

2.) Macnair's first name is Walden. Who names their kid Walden? Must be a British thing.

3.) Flitwick's office. This is not, however, how it occurs in the movie. Harry and Hermione land on the battlement of one of the towers and Hermione uses the "Bombarda" spell (also not in the books) to blast the door open.

4.) I give full credit to answer D, but will accept partial credit for answer B as well.

P.S. Question #4 was just a joke. Don't take it too "Sirius"-ly. Bah ha ha. Bad pun intended.

I need to make harder quiz questions. Maybe you all just cheat. Hmmm.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Prisoner of Azkaban Chapters 21 - 22

Wouldn't They have Known?

So we finally find out how Hermione has been getting to all her classes. She can time travel! To be honest, I hate time travel plot lines. They're rarely done well, they're a cop-out of resolving the plot any other way, and they hurt my simple brain if they're too complicated. That said, I really liked this part of the story. It doesn't get too far-fetched or overly-complicated.

The great mystery that stumps Snape and Fudge is how Black managed to escape Hogwarts again. Earlier in the book, McGonagall mentions that she had to get all sorts of permission from the ministry for Hermione to have a time-turner. If the ministry knew she had it, why wasn't Fudge alerted that she had it? Someone dropped the ball.

"Read My Lips. No New Taxes."

Fudge is such a polititian. As soon as word reaches him that Black escaped again, his immediate worry is that the Daily Prophet will get word and that it will make him look bad. His first measure of damage control isn't dispatching Dementors and Aurors to go after Black, it's trying to save face. Lame. I like that this fictional character is a reflection of characters we actually see in real life.

Let's Have a Chat

I love the little chats that Dumbledore and Harry have at the end of each book. Here, Dumbledore speaks a bit prophetically. Dumbledore says that Harry will be glad he saved Pettigrew's life, and that he doubts that Voldemort will want a servant in the debt of Harry Potter. This will prove to be true in the 7th book. Dumbledore puts so much stock in love. He knows that it is one of the most ancient and powerful parts of magic. Love, trust, loyalty, and sacrifice are all things Dumbledore values most highly. Strangely, it wasn't always that way in Dumbledore's life. I think it was because of the tragic incidents in Dumbledore's life that he began to value those traits. I believe it was penance for the sins of his early life. As we'll see in the 6th and 7th books that the memories of his past misdeeds haunted him the rest of his life.

Death.... Again

Here again, we have more discussion of death as Dumbledore speaks to Harry of his father. The Harry Potter books are not exactly religious in nature, yet it is clear that Rowling created characters that believe in life after death. It is Voldemort's disbelief in life after death that makes him paranoid about death and obsessed with immortality. Dumbledore says that even though James Potter is dead, that he lives on through Harry. This idea transcends many religions... that those who have passed on never truely leave us. Even if Dumbledore doesn't believe this himself, it serves to give Harry hope. With so much tragedy in his life, he needs something like that to hold on to.

Quiz Time!!!!!!!!!!!

It's everyone's favorite time again... Quiz time! We'll start easy.

1.) What is MacNair's former occupation?

A.) Care of Magical Creatures professor?

B.) Head of Magical law enforcement?

C.) Head of the Disposal of Dangerous Magical Creatures Committee?

D.) Death Eater?

2.) What is MacNair's first name?

A.) Warwick

B.) Warren

C.) Walden

D.) Waldo

3.) Where was Sirius Black being held captive inside Hogwarts?

A.) Professor Flitwick's office

B.) Astronomy Tower

C.) North Tower

D.) Professor Trelawny's office

What is the appropriate response to this statement? "Man, I have to go to the bathroom!"

A.) Expecto Patronum!

B.) Mischief Managed.

C.) "Can't you hold it?"

D.) "You know the law Miss Granger, you must not be seen."

I'll give out the answers in a couple of days. ("Three turns should do it. Good luck.")

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Prisoner of Azkaban Chapters 18-20

It All Comes Together

These chapters are difficult to analyze because it's the climax of the story and the majority of the time is spent either with action or explaining the previous 17 chapters. Since she already does that, that doesn't leave much for me to do. I'll try pointing out little things I saw in these chapters.

So, Sirius is innocent, huh? When I first read the books, I didn't see that one coming. Rowling does a great job creating a wonderful plot twist. It seems that plot twists, whether in books, TV shows, or movies tend to come out of no where without much "meat" to back them up. Confused? I'll explain what I mean. An effective plot twist isn't just throwing in a surprise plot element from left field. It must have supporting evidence. Anyone could have written that Sirius turned out to be a good guy, but in this case, there is plenty of evidence throughout the book to back it up. For example, people in Azkaban heard Sirius muttering, "He's at Hogwarts." Everyone interpreted that to mean that he was talking about Harry, but it's totally plausible that he was talking about Pettigrew. It all makes sense.

I Would Like to Speak with Harry and Hermione Alone

One subtle, but important character trait of Dumbledore is that he always observes the "niceties." He's always patient and polite. One subtle example of this is in the way he refers to Harry and Hermione. Snape always refers to Harry as Potter. Hermione, to most professors is Miss Granger. Dumbledore does the courtesy of referring to them by their first names. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe there is another faculty member except perhaps Lupin who refers to Harry and Hermione by their first names. To me, this symbolizes so much about Dumbledore. By calling them by their first names, he's bringing himself down to their level. Instead of speaking down to school children, Dumbledore treats them with the respect that he would expect the students to treat others with. In return, he expects the same respect be given to teachers, i.e. Harry referring to Snape as Professor Snape. This applies to all beings as well. Dumbledore would extend the same courtesy to the minister of magic as he would a house elf. It's these small details that combine to form the greater picture of who Dumbledore is.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Prisoner of Azkaban Chapters 16-17

Oh Man, I Hate it When My Tortoise Still has a Spout for a Tail!

Reading about Harry and his exams makes me get test anxiety all over again. I love how Rowling uses real human emotions to make something imaginary like magic education seem believable. Anyone can relate to having pre-test anxiety or seeming overwhelmed by course workload. The details about magic that Rowling includes seem like they came from some encyclopedia. The subjects themselves seem like logical things one would need to learn to become a witch or wizard. I just think it's fantastic.

On a personal note, I just got done taking a 6 hour National Board Dental Examination on Thursday and that was brutal. Even with that, I've got nothing on what our trio had to do. They had to stay up until midnight to take their Astronomy exam on Tuesday night and then take History of Magic the next morning.


J.K. Rowling has come right out and said that death is a big theme that she deals with in the books. Death gets addressed in many different ways: ghosts, memories, where we go when we die, dealing with loss, ways to conquer death, and the worth of the soul. There are many deaths in the series and I really respect Rowling for not shying away from death, but embracing that it happens and that the good guys sometimes don't escape it. I also appreciate the mature approach she uses to deal with death, despite her young audience. In my opinion, they way Rowling deals with real human emotions is one of her greatest strengths as a writer, especially given that this is a fantasy novel.

Up to this point in the series, Harry has not encountered someone he knows dying while he's been at Hogwarts. Even though Harry's parents obviously snuffed it, we weren't "there" to experience it. Buckbeak's execution is really our trio's first exposure to death. Rowling spends a lot of time building up to this event and I think this is to set the stage for deaths that will occur later in the series. This is by no means the most significant death of the series, nor is it the one that impacted me the most (I'll let you know when we get to the death that impacted me the most.)

Sirius Black

So we finally get to our "showdown" with Sirius Black. When I first read this book, I was saying to myself, "The climax of this book isn't like the first two books at all." There's no Voldemort, there's no Horcrux-destroying fang! It's wonderful to see the series keep the reader on their toes.

When Harry has his want pointed at Sirius, Crookshanks interferes by sitting on Black's chest. Again, this is a point when Hermione should have done her research on Kneazles. She should have known that they are excellent judges of character. On a seperate note, doesn't it seem odd that Harry is about to kill Sirius, yet he doesn't even know the killing curse yet? We don't learn that one until the next book. I'm not sure what Harry was planning on doing to Black, but it couldn't have been that bad. Harry thinks he's so bad.