Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Chapter 14: Percy and Padfoot
- So Harry wakes up early, finds the common room completely alone and uses the time to… write a letter. Damn it Harry, you should be doing your homework!
- “‘Right, I know this says Snuffles on the outside,’ he told her, giving her the letter to clasp in her beak and, without knowing exactly why, whispering, ‘but it’s for Sirius, OK?’ She blinked her amber eyes once and he took that to mean that she understood.” – You know that in reality owls are incredible stupid animals? Getting them to fly through the Great Hall in the movies (even without a letter, which they would include later digitally) took months. I’ve already speculated that Wizard pets are in general smarter than common Muggle pets, which seems to be very true for owls.
- First we have Mrs Norris watching Harry going to the Owlery, then some time later Filch storms in, accusing Harry that he ordered Dungbombs, wanting to see the letter he wrote. I think it is very clear that Umbridge uses Filch to spy on her students, especially Harry, giving him the order to get his hands on every letter he might write. But because Harry is too occupied with swooning over Cho he doesn’t see that.
- I think a lot of Ron’s insecurity during their first Quidditch practice has to do with his family, with 5 older brothers he has to compete with. He is good when he practices with Harry alone, but loses his self-confidence once Fred & George are around, as well as the Slytherins watching them. Harry is someone he can trust, someone who didn’t make fun of him for trying out, unlike Fred & George.
- “Katie’s nose was bleeding. Down below, the Slytherins were stamping their feet and jeering. Fred and George converged on Katie. ‘Here, take this,’ Fred told her, handing her something small and purple from out of his pocket, ‘it’ll clear it up in no time.’” – As we later learn Fred gave her the wrong sweet, making her nose-bleed even worse. But let’s say he did gave her the right one, it would mean that the sweets Fred & George invented would have a medical use. I assumed they contain some sort of potion and a counter-potion, but they also seem to work if for example the nose-bleed isn’t caused by their sweets in the first place.
- “Harry turned and saw Angelina, Fred and George all flying as fast as they could towards Katie. Harry and Alicia sped towards her, too. It was plain that Angelina had stopped training just in time; Katie was now chalk white and covered in blood.” – But Hermione is right in pointing out how dangerous Fred & George inventions can be. Technically they should not be allowed to anyone underage, because they can cause severe complications if not used properly.
- I love how perfectly Rowling finds Percy’s voice in his letter to Ron, in this very pretentious way only Percy would talk.
- Hermione’s decision to help them after all with their homework had all to do with Percy’s letter. Ron might not have said it, but she can tell how much it must hurt him, as well as Harry, and this way she can help them having one thing less to worry about.
- “He knew that half the people inside Hogwarts thought him strange, even mad; he knew that the Daily Prophet had been making snide allusions to him for months, but there was something about seeing it written down like that in Percy’s writing, about knowing that Percy was advising Ron to drop him and even to tell tales about him to Umbridge, that made his situation real to him as nothing else had.” – There is a difference between strangers believing the lies about Harry and Percy, the older brother of Harry’s best friend, part of the family who adopted him, someone who knows him. If people like Percy, or Seamus, don’t believe Harry and Dumbledore, how can he expect the Wizarding World to believe him? If they express doubt anybody could. Dumbledore’s trust in Harry means others trust Harry as well, they take his word for granted, and Harry has got used to it. It is yet another privilege taken from him.
- People smarter than me (the lovely ladies of the “Witch, please”-Podcast) have pointed out how the entirety of book 5 is an example of gaslighting. Harry is repeatedly told that he is nothing but a liar,that he only tries to seek attention. He is put in the very same situation thousands of women have to face when they went public with allegations of rape and sexual abuse. Both Harry and these women are victims, but instead of believing them, instead of helping and supporting them, they get accused to made things up, to try to get attention, to ruin the lives of others, often powerful men (in this case Fudge). Which is very interesting, because despite being told from a male perspective the Potter series allow a feminist reading and put Harry in situations of violence and abuse familiar to women.
- One of things Hermione and Molly do have in common though (I wrote about their differences in the previous chapter notes) is their view of Sirius, how he is unnecessarily reckless and how unhealthy and unbalanced his relationship with Harry is (as they both see James in the other: Sirius who misses his best friend and Harry who longs for his father).
- “‘Yes, but the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters,’ said Sirius with a wry smile.” – It is interesting how this line is used in the movie adaption as well, but in a complete different context. Here Sirius talks about Umbridge, how she can be evil without being a Death Eater (the same way Fudge acts like a villain without being one). In the adaption this line refers to Harry himself – he is seeing visions of Voldemort and is afraid that he might becomes evil. Sirius reassures him that is not the case and that you can’t divide the world simply into good and bad people. The older Harry gets the more complex the characters we see get – the first two books had a clear black and white morality, but ever since then we get more morally grey characters. Which is why I prefer the later books.
- Despite not being a Death Eater, Sirius tells the trio that Umbridge hates part-humans, such as werewolves. Even without supporting Voldemort she supports his ideology, which is why she had no problem working under his regime in the Ministry during book 7. Casual racism exists and the fact that both Umbridge and Fudge (who shares her views) get away with it shows that it is socially accepted to a certain degree.
- “‘That’s exactly what he thinks you’re doing,’ said Sirius, ‘or, rather, that’s exactly what he’s afraid Dumbledore’s doing – forming his own private army, with which he will be able to take on the Ministry of Magic.’” – It shows the kind of influence and power Dumbledore has, how among wizards he is an almost God-like figure for Fudge to become that paranoid. Fudge knows that many people trust Dumbledore blindly, that they would follow his orders without questioning (I mean Harry does). He is aware that Dumbledore could abuse this power. And he does in a way, but instead of an army he builds up a soldier, Harry, and uses Harry’s trust to manipulate him.
- “‘You’re less like your father than I thought,’ he said finally, a definite coolness in his voice. ‘The risk would’ve been what made it fun for James.’” – Sirius is fully aware how much proud Harry takes in being like his father, that learning for example that James never had been a prefect made him feel better about not being a prefect either. So this is a low blow. But after seeing Snape’s memory later in the book Harry realizes that not being like his father isn’t always a bad thing.