Harry Potter Book Club: Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 7

Hello! The Harry Potter Book Club is back in session. Christie's having to post as she can—she's got enough to do to occupy any three people—but the show goes on, and all of us with it.

Before Christmas, Masha wrote about about Divination, which was fascinating, since in her pagan days, she'd actually done it:
I can (but don't, so please, don't ask!) read pretty much anything: cards, palms, fire, moles, dreams, handwriting, wax...I used to love it, until I started worrying about my soul.
Her take is thoughtful, too; hardly a case of straight-up scientific dismissal:
It's nice to know the flakes of the world (Trelawney, Lavender, Parvati)  show up alongside the Type - A, rationalists in the wizarding world as well as the real world. And really, there's no better place to reveal them than in the Divination tower.. Flakes of all types love divination  - until you tell them the cute-guy-from-Whole-Foods won't actually be marrying them in the next few months - and Hermione or McGonagall types loathe it..even when it's dead on. 
Read it! And then come back here for boggarts and fear-facing.

Meanwhile, want something fun to procrastinate with? Figure out which Harry Potter character you are. This was a surprising and interesting result:

Maybe we should qualify that.
I may not care much about what people en masse think of me,
but I care wildly about what individual people think.
I love it when they like me as I am,
and I love liking and accepting them in return,
and I'll always love Neville Longbottom.

* * *
This Week in Reading Harry

Read: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, chapter 7

Potential Discussion Points:

Here's Hank Green comparing the public school system to Hogwarts, unfavorably, by way of cornball song.

"...and they don't put you in Hufflepuff if you're not cool
instead they sort you in the parking lot after school"
I get that second line, but the first... just WHAT ARE YOU SAYING, Hank??!!!

Say 'Everyone who isn't cool should be sorted into Hufflepuff'
one more time.
Just say it.
Erm. Anyway. I'm certainly no defender of concrete boxes and mystery lunchmeat, but Hogwarts ain't a perfect school system, either. Exhibit A: Severus Snape. See below.

1. Bad teachers. Hagrid is incompetent; Trelawney is a dangerous absurdity; and Snape, for numerous reasons, should never have been put in charge of young minds.

Art by Shellvia-Blackthorn
All of these are individuals to whom Dumbledore has extended mercy: sometimes with specific reasons, but always out of the generosity of a heart that recognizes the need for second chances. This probably saved Hagrid's life, and has lent Trelawney what little dignity she possesses—and we could talk about Snape, but it would all be spoilerific at this point—but as a policy, the Hogwarts faculty as a hospital for the screwed up and screwed over is not without its problems. Students learn nothing in Hagrid's classes after the Buckbeak episode. Trelawney is reverenced by some students as an oracle, and is hated by the rest as a fraud; either way, she's doing far more harm than good.

Snape is vicious to the point of being able to inflict lasting damage on young lives. We have limited insights into his relationship with Dumbledore, but if Dumbledore ever pulled him aside and attempted to stop him bullying Neville, we at least know it didn't work. Possibly it wasn't said, however, since it would have had to come out like, "Look, I need you and you need me, but go on bullying students and I have what it takes to land you in Azkaban." Snape knows way too much to make that a good idea. But still.

Dumbledore's 'hospital for the screwed up and screwed over' has at least one almost-unqualified success, however. SPOILERS. Moving on.

Art by Callista1981
2. Professor Remus J. Lupin, D.A.D.A. The new professor's first class gives us a lot of insight—both into Lupin's character and into the art of engaging children in learning. Not a lot of professors would teach you, first thing, how to shoot a wad of gum up a poltergeist's nostril.

This class is brilliant. Lupin saves the reading and essay assignment till after he's carefully coached the class through some unforgettable experience, ensuring that he has both their attention and their respect. When Snape shames Neville in front of him, Lupin calmly displays a confidence in Neville that, as far as we know, no adult has ever given the boy. It's an immense and meaningful gift.

The result, like the gum up Peeves' nose, is a touch ethically questionable—and these are quiet hints at a SPOILERIFIC segment of Lupin's history—but is equally effective. The class laughs, and fear is conquered. It would be hard not to laugh.


3. Neville. He's had great courageous moments before, but Lupin's class is—if I recall correctly—the first opportunity he's ever had to win a fight. The fact that he's been fighting without winning for two books now is sign enough of his character; now, faced with his worst fears but having a capable teacher backing him up for the first time, he shows that his mind is perfectly up to the challenge.

Art by Melody Moore

The Wizarding world is lucky Neville is able to overcome the shame loaded on him by Snape (and Augusta Longbottom, for that matter). That's all I've got to say. For now, anyway.

4. The boggart. I don't know much about boggart mythology—I've never even read Susan Cooper's book—but the concept of a creature that takes on the appearance of a potential enemy's worst fear is fascinating. That would certainly be an effective form of self-defense. I wonder what happens when a boggart actually gets you? Does it just run you over and leave you fainting from terror? Or does it do like the Matrix and kill you with you own mind's tendency to make whatever it believes real?

Or maybe it makes like River and does it for you...
Third year at Hogwarts is probably a good age for dealing with this minor monster. Childhood fears are usually simpler than the fears of adults, as exemplified by Mrs. Weasley in book five.

At the moment I could probably confuse a boggart all by myself... but when I was first reading the books, I knew exactly what it would turn into if it crawled out of my closet: the low-head dam on the Wenatchee River. As a former whitewater raft guide and rescue tech, I know what happens when water hits a smooth, submerged obstacle like that. I know it almost invariably kills you if you get stuck in it, and I know how—I know the details. I used to have nightmares in the middle of the day about that thing.

I think I'd try to make it sprout a bunch of those agricultural sprinklers: the kind that rotate slowly for part of a circle and then speed back: "tchish, tchish, tchish, tchish, tchish, tch-tch-tch-tch-tch-tch-tch-tchish..." You know the type. I've always found them amusing.



  1. I took the HP character quiz and had a hard time with the answer choices. This may be why, according to them, I'm--RON WEASLEY??? I don't think so, and I love Ron.

    I took a Hunger Games character quiz and was Primrose Everdeen, despite checking the answer that I'd madly avoid bloody injuries. Still, I'd rather be Prim than anyone else in the books and she fits my caretaker personality well.


    1. Ron, WTF?

      Some of the questions WERE hard to answer. I don't think I knew most of the movies or songs.

      Luna is one of a handful of people with whom I'd have been pleased. I don't have a perfect match in the books--not brain-driven enough for Hermione, adventurous enough for Harry, down-to-earth enough for Ron, or, where Luna is concerned, carefree enough. Lupin might've actually been a closer choice. But I do sympathize pretty strongly with Luna in a lot of ways, so I was okay with that.

      I could see Prim for you. HP is tougher because of the caricaturish nature of the characters.

  2. <3 <3 <3 ((((((Remus)))))) <3 <3 <3
    <3 <3 <3 (((((Neville))))))) <3 <3 <3

    that's about all I have to say at this time <3

    also, the quiz said I was Hermione; I am ok with that.

  3. But everyone knows Hufflepuffs are a bunch 'o duffers... I mean, not that I think that, but it's what everyone else says. ;)

    I got Hermione on that quiz. I suppose I'm good with that.

  4. Ok..I will try to tear myself away from baking and 'sister wives' (don't judge me, I'm on a binge!) long enough respond to BOTH this and the Twilight post today!!!! I love Lupin in this book! He's so kind..

    And I'm Luna too..which is better than Harry or Ron..but still, I feel a bit let down.

    1. Let down by Luna, really? I love her!! Who did you want to be?

      Sister Wives, HAHAHA! Well, who could help being curious? ;)

  5. I have recurring nightmares of tornadoes--a product of growing up in the midwest? I think I'd give the tornado a face and make it look like a kid throwing a temper tantrum.


    1. Hahahahaha! I love that idea!

      I feel your pain, though... I had nightmares after seeing part of Twister on TV. :S


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