The Harry Potter Book Club: Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapters 16-17

Before proceeding with discussion, I have two items that must be mentioned.

First, the bad news: Christie has had to withdraw from posting, owing to other life commitments needing priority—things like working and having two children. She hopes to still read along, and maybe we’ll even get her to comment from time to time. :)

Second: I would be failing in my duties as your resident Potterhead if I did not embed the following video.

At your service.

Masha responded to the last chapter with some insightful comments on Trelawney and the subject of Divination. She’s right that Trelawney is “a delightful fraud”; my favorite comment, however, was
Maybe Trelawney's merely a reminder that attempting to make a formula from a mystery is impossible and makes those that attempt it look ridiculous.
I’m delighting in academics and am lately feeling crazy fond of knowledge, the scientific method, theorizing, philosophizing, and all that—but Masha’s point introduces a nice little check into the West’s zeal in both the scientific and religious arenas. Not a halt, just a check—a warning not to dash off the edges of the earth in pursuit of the one explanation that solves everything.

On to the next chapters!

This Week in Reading Harry

Read: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, chapters 16 and 17

Art by afo2006

Potential discussion points:

1. Hermione irritates her classmates by fussing about how her Transfigured teapot looked more like a turtle than a tortoise, while everyone else is saying things like “Were the tortoises supposed to breathe steam?”

As someone who this week got a patient "I know you attempt to get 100% on your exams" email from a Spanish professor who knew I'd be upset with a 95%, I ... think it's a good thing I'm not on campus to irritate classmates who have healthier priorities. We annoying worrywarts are typically more invested than we need to be in the given moment, and we tend not to know how to stop that.
Art by Norma Peters.

2. Professor Lupin’s final exam. I absolutely love this. Around the time I went up against my Statistics final, I think I would have battled the exact same boggart as Hermione—substituting professors, of course.

3. The Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures makes its decision before finally weighing the evidence. “Justice”—to borrow Thomas Hardy’s scare quotes from the end of Tess of the D’Urbervilles—has all too often done the same.

4. I’d like to say that Harry’s fabricated crystal-ball viewing, in his Divination final, is testimony to Rowling’s confidence in the act of choosing—but that would involve SPOILERS.

5. Regarding humans' astounding capability for self-deception, I have to wonder how much of the students’ crystal-ball reporting Professor Trelawney actually believes. “A little disappointing,” she says, “but I’m sure you did your best.” Her disappointment appears to center in Harry’s failure to see death in the ball. I find this a mystery indeed.

Art by Ederoi
6. The real prediction, which—again, self-deception—Trelawney refused to believe that she actually made.

7. Ron demonstrates his bravery. I love that it’s Ron, wobbling on a broken leg, who says, “If you want to kill Harry, you’ll have to kill us too!”

8. Crookshanks demonstrates his humanity. I like a cat with a feel for justice. (It's outside the norm. The Oatmeal: "Dogs are a man's best friend. Cats are man's adorable little serial killers.")

Art by cartoonsilverfox
9. Hermione gets two out of three questions wrong. It happens to the best of us; it’s shockingly hard to get all the evidence regarding any tolerably important matter in this life.

10. “I’m Moony”—a werewolf. Here's Moony's backstory, drawn from Pottermore, for your reading pleasure. SPOILERS for latter books abound.

* * *

More Moony and the introduction of Peter Pettigrew, next post. For now, to tide you over until that day, here are some links to give you the warm fuzzies: first, Kelly Orazi's beautiful MuggleNet piece on J.K. Rowling's recent Twitter statement that "You got the letter. You went to Hogwarts. We were all there together." (If that doesn't make your week, I'm not sure how to help you.)

Second, BookRiot gives us the option of “Imagining a Fandom Edition of an Annotated Harry Potter.” I am so down with that.

Happy reading!