Order of the Phoenix discussion - Chapters 17-20

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Order of the Phoenix discussion - Chapters 17-20

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Abr 7, 2008, 8:16am

Okay, I'm kicking us off again because I have a lot of notes and I have to get them all posted by 9 a.m. at the latest. This weeks chapters are:

17: Educational Decree No. 24
18: Dumbledore's Army
19: The Lion and the Serpent
20: Hagrid's Tale

Away we go!

Abr 7, 2008, 8:54am

I took a lotof notes on Chapter 17, so this is going to be a really long post!

1. Again the newly fascist regime appears. It's amazing to me that there isn't a larger outcry against the new governmental policies. Does anyone else feel like the wizarding community at large is a little too passive and accepting for it's own good? And then I wonder are we any different. I think it would be really interesting to look at the politics of this book. I also wonder, obviously Fudge has a lot of control over the Daily Prophet, do you think it is a state controlled paper or that the editor is under Fudge's thumb for another reason? Events of GoF need to be taken into consideration in regards to the paper as well.

2. I love the boy in the girls dormitory security system as Hermione says, it is outdated, but it's also hilarious. At the same time it showcases the naivety (sp?) of people 1000 years ago.

3. This time I am reading the British version, which in its description of Ron trying to enter the girls dormitory says: "stone slide like a helter-skelter". I didn't remember this phrase, so I grabbed the American version and it just stops at stone slide. I'm thinking there are two reasons that they did this; first because American children don't know the term Helter-Skelter and secondly, and much more importantly it will most likely make adults (as it did for me) immediately think of Charles Manson. Not an image you want associated with an already controvestial children's book!

4. I love Hermione. (That's my note, I'm not sure why I wrote it, but its true, so there you go.)

5. They keep waiting for Binns to be inspected and I wonder why they would bother. He's a ghost so I assume he isn't paid, and if there's one universal truth about all governments it's if they can get away with not paying you, they won't. Anyway, even if she did inspect Binns, I'm sure Umbridge would love his methods!

6. Poor Hedwig. To get hurt and then feel abandoned by Harry. She was awesome....

7. You'd think if Binns could remember one student's name it would be Harry's, but know...he calls him "Perkins".

8. I think we see another instance here of JKR recognizing children's reluctance to see their authority figures as people. I think it's hilarious that if Grubbly-Plank isn't teaching, Harry decides she must be in the staff room. Obviously these are the only two things an adult could possibly be interested in doing!

9. Speaking of Grubbly-Plank, don't you just love the description of her? I think I want to be her, teach Care of Magical Creatures, smoke a pipe and wear a monocle. Next time I have occasion to dress up like a Potter character...

10. By the way, does anyone else ever wonder what houses the other professors were in? Umbridge must be Slytherin, and obviously we know about DD, McG, Snape, Flitwick, and Sprout but I wonder about Trewlawney, Hagrid, all the other DADA teachers (except Lupin obviously) Grubbly-Plank, etc.

11. What a great moment for Neville, going after Malfoy.

12. I don't know why Harry had trouble choosing between Snape and Umbridge. Yes Snape is not nice to him, but he did save his life, Umbridge on the other had sent Dementor's after him (I know he doesn't know this yet). It was a no brainer for me who to root for the first time I read this book.

13. I find it interesting that Umbridge would care about Snape's past as a Death Eater, as she is in such firm denial of the return of Voldy. I know "the world isn't divided into good people and Death Eaters" but really all she is missing is the Mark. Other than that she's got it all and the fact that she continues to work for the ministry and what she does with Mad-Eye's eye well....

14. More of JKR's math issues. It's October, they have been in school for at least 4 weeks, and yet they're just starting Chapter 3 of Slinkhard's book? How long does it take to read 34 pages, even of a tediously boring book?

15. I love that Hermione thinks the bright side of no Quiddich is that Harry can do homework.

16. As per the earlier discussion of where vanished things go, I had a horrible image of some secret place in Hogwarts slowly filling up with snails, mice, potion, and vomit.

17. It's nice to get the reminder of Crookshanks and Sirius' relationship.

18. The image of Umbridge's hand in the fire is so revolting and creepy. I love the Mary Grand-Pre's chapter drawing of this in the American version.

(Okay so now it's almost 9 a.m already and I've only done one chapter!)

Abr 7, 2008, 9:04am

Chapter 18:

1. What do we think of Hermione's explanation of the Dungbomb incident? Is it plausible?

2. Ron is so funny. I love sarcasm!

3. I think it's so funny that Sirius' approval worries Hermione.

4. I've always wondered how fair the impervious charm is for Quiddich. I suppose the other team can do it too, but it's interesting what they can use magic wise and what the can't in the games.

5. I love the image of Dobby in all those hats with Hedwig on top. Another great chapter drawing by Mary Grand-Pre!

6. I also love that it is "the presence of hundreds of books" that convinces Hermione that they are truly doing the right thing. She is a girl after my own heart.

7. I wish Zacharias Smith had been in OotP movie so we could see Fred and George disarming him behind his back.

Abr 7, 2008, 9:07am

Good morning! I'm going to go chapter-by-chapter, so here are my notes on chapter 17:

- I love the little details in this chapter -- the steps to the girls' dorm turning into a slide, the snide gargoyles outside the staff room -- they're part of the Hogwarts atmosphere.

- Draco is such an idiot. If the other house teams don't re-form, who's Slytherin going to play against? Four teams make for a pretty small bracket; they really can't afford to lose one. Of course, Draco's really just saying that the Gryffindor team might not be allowed to re-form to bait Harry and Ron.

- Neville shows himself a true Gryffindor here by dashing into conflict against impossible odds to uphold family honor. (Yes, I'm being a bit sarcastic here.)

- I adore Snape's inspection by Umbridge! Rickman plays it well in the movie, too; I'm glad they left it in. I love seeing how each teacher deals with Umbridge in this book -- Hagrid is baffled, McGonagall is extremely irritated, Trelawney is intimidated, Flitwick is polite, Snape is coldly disdainful.

- Speaking of Trelawney's reaction to Umbridge, I love the "insulted by the establishment" line. How very 1960's! The Establishment!

Abr 7, 2008, 9:12am

Chapter 19:

1. I enjoy the reaction Hermione gets to the Protean Charm.

2. Don't you just love Ron's reaction to Hermione's kiss?! They're so perfect for each other.

3. Isn't there some kind of unwritten guy rule about not going out with people your friends went out with? Why would Lee Jordan try to date Angelina? Fred went to the Yule Ball with her.

4. I wish Lee Jordan's commentary in the movies were as good as in the books, but that kid was just annoying. I really hope we get to hear Luna commentate.

5. Somehow I'm not surprised that it was Crabbe who hit Harry with that final bludger. He really turned out to be the most evil of the three.

6. I know I shouldn't be, but I'm sooooooo happy when Harry and George beat the poo out of Malfoy, regardless of the consequences and I wish Fred could have helped.

7. I wish I had a Snitch for my cats! Someone should make that toy.

8. The end of this chapter is great. The whole chapter is such a downer and then we find out Hagrid's back and we're immediately uplifted.

Abr 7, 2008, 9:26am

Responses to Biblio's post #2:

1. Espy (a journalism major) mentioned to me that the interactions between the government and the press work differently in England than America, even in the Muggle world. I'll see if I can get him to come onto this thread and comment; I'll just make a mess of explaining it, and probably offend someone in the process, if I try!

5. I had the same thought about Binns. I agree that Umbridge would love his methods. I also think he's been allowed to go on teaching because his subject is seen as one of the least important ones -- a pretty common attitude toward history, really. I mean, if Binns had been the DADA teacher, or the Transfiguration teacher, would he have been allowed to go on teaching after his death? I think not.

7. I'm also always amazed by this. I suppose it's because most history teachers I've had have been very interested in current events. Harry is going to be in history books! He already is mentioned in a few books, according to Hermione. If Binns continues teaching, I'll bet he'll be teaching about Harry and Voldemort within 20 years. You'd think that would occur to him. On the other hand, it's kind of nice to have at least one teacher who really is completely indifferent to Harry.

10. For some reason, I thought we knew that Hagrid had been in Gryffindor. I've already packed my old books, or I'd go look it up. Guess I could check the Lexicon . . . okay, it has him as Gryffindor, but I didn't see a reference in my quick scan of the info on him, and I don't have time for digging. I guess we could check the Lexicon on the other teachers, to see if any house affiliations are listed -- if JKR's ever mentioned it, chances are the Lexicon has picked up on it.

Abr 7, 2008, 9:43am

Chapter 20:

1. Considering Ron's constant insulting of Nick, I wonder if it's a coincidence that Nick is humming "Weasley is our King".

2. It's noticeable that JKR is mentioning Nick more that she has since CoS. I believe she is preparing us for the conversation between Harry and Nick at the end.

3. It's hard to believe that Hermione didn't think to cover their tracks on their way to Hagrids.

4. I hate Umbridge even more for talking to Hagrid that way.

Abr 7, 2008, 3:25pm

Chapter 18:

I didn't take a lot of notes on this one.

- I love that Dobby is taking all of the clothing (and wearing most of it)!

- The Room of Requirement: another obscure hint from an earlier book brought to fruition! I love it when little things like DD mentioning a room full of chamber pots turn into major plot devices.

In response to Biblio (post #3):

1. It sounds plausible to me. I mentioned at the time that I didn't understand why Filch did the subterfuge with the dungbombs. I do think it was a bit of a long shot, on Umbridge's part, but I can see ways in which it might have worked, I guess.

3. I wonder how much of Hermione's attitude toward Sirius has been influenced by his treatment of Kreacher? Was she always this mistrustful of Sirius?

6. Mine, too! :-)

Abr 7, 2008, 3:40pm

Chapter 19:

- Hermione mentions that the sorting hat considered putting her in Ravenclaw. We all know that Harry could have been put in Slytherin. I suspect that Neville was close to going in Hufflepuff. Does that make Ron the quintessential Gryffindor? ;-)

- I love Luna's lion hat! She's quite talented, despite being a little batty.

- Quidditch scoring has always bothered me a bit. I mean, so much rides on the Seeker. Someone (I think this was a RL conversation, but maybe not) said that Quidditch was a metaphor for Harry's life -- in the end, the best efforts of the people around him carry little weight; he's the one who makes the deciding score. Doesn't seem like much fun for the rest of the team, though, does it? Is this another example of Rowling Math?

- I get so irritated with the boys for fighting Malfoy. As McG said, of course he wanted to provoke them -- he'd just lost a game! I know as well as anyone who's been through middle school how hurtful words can be, but really, boys! You just won a Quidditch game! Ignore the doofus making snide remarks about your mum!

- A lifelong ban? This seems like something any rational adult would consider a bit over-the-top. Now, I know that Umbridge is not a rational adult, but I still think that the rest of the staff, working in conjunction, should have been able to do something about her. I mean, they have the means to alert parents of the sort of punishment she uses and so forth. And I would think that a reasonable open letter to Fudge, perhaps copied to the board of directors (we know that there is one, albeit a weak one, because Malfoy subverted them in the second book) and perhaps to the Daily Prophet (though we know it's under Fudge's thumb), would get some sort of response. Part of Umbridge's tyranny is that she's doing despicable things in secrecy, under the veneer of legality -- bring what she's actually doing out in the open, and I can't help but think that a good number of people wouldn't stand for it. On the other hand, people are sheep and only hear what they want to hear sometimes, so I suppose what happens in this book is totally plausible. It just irritates me. I feel like many of the teachers are acting just as irrationally as the teenagers a lot of the time.

Abr 7, 2008, 6:09pm

In response to Foggi's response to my #2:

1. I would love to have Espy tell me about the differences in papers. I was (briefly)a journalism major, but obviously didn't get to that part in the course work. I would be extremely interested in what he has to say.

10. JKR must have said it in an interview sometime. I assumed he was because he always roots for Gryffindor. Weird though that when he's telling Harry about the houses in PS/SS, he says DD was in Gryffindor and doesn't mention that he was too.

In response to foggi's response to my #3:

3. I was thinking about this as I wrote today, was she always distrustful of Sirius? Hard to say, because she had so little contact with him. I think if anything, what colors her perception of Sirius is observing him over the summer, with his sullen recklessness.

#9: I agree completely about Quiddich scoring not making sense. I was just listening to the "Rogue Bludger" chapter in CoS, and was thinking the same thing. At one point Wood tells Harry "it's all on you..." Obviously this is why the RL version has made the Snitch only worth 50 points. I do wonder if she realized this and that is why she had the World Cup turn out the way it does, to prove that the team that catches the Snitch doesn't always win.

I also wanted to say something about how ridiculous the lifelong ban is. At first I thought how does she have the authority to issue a lifelong ban? But then I assumed that it had something to do with her relationship to Fudge. What bother's me more than the lifelong ban, is why that means she gets to keep their brooms? There are plenty of other reasons to fly than Quiddich and she certainly can't give them a lifelong ban on flying, that would be ridiculous!

Finally, yes, it does really seem as though no one in this book makes a rational decision. I'm truly thinking really hard to think of someone....I suppose Hermione does pretty good with contacting the Quibbler, which she never should have had to do, since as you say, the teachers should be doing something about it, not leaving it to the children.

Abr 7, 2008, 9:10pm

bib & foggi are really covering everything. The only thing I have written in my margins that isn't mentioned is that the DA have to be in by 9, but Harry is often in detention until after midnight...how does that work?

I love Luna.

As for the teachers just letting Umbridge roll over them, I think JKR is making a comment about how people behaved after 911--here in the US, we let the Bush Admin. pass the "Patriot Act." People get weird when they're scared.

Abr 7, 2008, 9:22pm

#11 You know lg, I was thinking about that just today on my drive home as well, that they seem to be so often out after midnight for various detentions or Astronomy class, etc. I was thinking maybe there's some kind of pass or something, so unless you have "permission" from a teacher you can't be out past 9. Also it specifically says "5th years" are allowed out until 9, which makes me wonder about those that are younger than 5th year, Ginny, Luna, Colin, Dennis...are they allowed out?

Interesting theory about 9/11 and I admit I do see a correlation, however, I wonder what exactly the people would have to be scared about right then. Voldemort had been gone for 14 years and the Ministry is not admitting that there is nothing to be afraid of. I could see this more in HBP, in this book all I see is fascism...and I could say some things about the Bush regime but I'll hold my tongue (or fingers as it were!)

P.S. I was starting to feel like foggi and I were monopolizing the conversation, so I was really happy to see your post!

Abr 7, 2008, 9:32pm

Don't forget MacGonagall's admonitions to Harry about how to handle Umbridge. The adults are walking on egg shells because they know their jobs are on the line. Umbridge usurps more of DD's power every day, they are afraid to rock the boat. As well as the fact that they're all in the Order, so they know that Voldy may well be running things at the ministry. They have to tread carefully.

Abr 7, 2008, 9:36pm

Okay, notes on chapter 20:

Actually, I didn't have many on this chapter either. I laughed at Nearly-Headless Nick humming "Weasley is Our King," though I doubt him singing it was intentional or malicious. I think it was just an annoying song of the type that is most likely to get stuck in one's head.

The only other note I have on this chapter is "Hagrid, King of Exposition, rides again!" I really feel like big chunks of this chapter could have been edited down, especially since the giants don't come back into the story all that much (other than Grawp, who isn't even mentioned in this chapter).

Abr 7, 2008, 9:44pm

I think Chapter 20 is where I almost walked away from the book the first time I read it. It is desperate for editing. I thought the giant story would NEVER end.

Abr 7, 2008, 9:49pm

You guys are both right. You know I usually stand up for JKR's editing choices, but this is a horrifically boring chapter in general. And now knowing that they really don't have much to do with the rest of the story it seems even more superfluous. Perhaps that is why I didn't have as many notes on this chapter either.

Abr 7, 2008, 10:30pm

I feel vindicated! ;-)

Abr 7, 2008, 10:32pm

At least the chapter is short...for an HP chapter. It was definitely the shortest that we read in this section.

Abr 7, 2008, 10:34pm

I have to admit that I skimmed it. I listened to the audiobook not long ago, and I just couldn't face rereading the whole chapter again.

Abr 8, 2008, 10:24am

I'm glad it's not just me. I hate that chapter.

Abr 8, 2008, 2:47pm

#11 LG on the post September 11th issue. I think Rowling is always very subtle but I think if there is a veiled reference it also has to do with the very specific British situation. Blair was regularly criticized for being Bush's lapdog, I think that aspect may be reflected in the passiveness with which various adults in the wizarding world respond to the edicts.

Ditto on the editing.

Yay Luna!

Abr 8, 2008, 11:12pm

Hey, A couple of things.

About differences in journalism, I will need to look more into this and be more awake before I post an actual response to this question, but I can tell you right off the bat that different laws involving libel and slander exist for British papers than American papers. I also think (don't know for sure) that treason laws can be applied for people who have written unflattering newspaper articles, but I'll have to get back to you on that.

I have found the answer to the question "where do vanished things go." Rowling actually included this little tidbit as a riddle to enter the Ravenclaw common room in book 7. (Incidentally, I think that McGonagall was almost a Ravenclaw, but I have no proof.) In the chapter titled "The sacking of Severus Snape," Mcgonagall answers the question as follows: "Into nonbeing, which is to say, everything." What this makes it sound like to me is that vanished objects destabalize at an atomic level and become free-floating particles. That sentence just made no sense to me, but if it sounds right to you then just give me a nod.

To defend Quidditch scoring, most of the games that we see in the books take only a few minutes to hours because the seekers are, generally, very skilled players. However, it is supposedly not uncommon for Quidditch games to last for days if not months according to Quidditch Through the Ages. if this was the case then the 150 points gained by the seeker would not affect the game as much as they seem to in the few games that we are exposed to in the books. (As a side note, according to QTtA the point value is 150 because the reward for catching a Sniget was originally 150 galleons.)

Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so.

Editado: Abr 9, 2008, 1:03am

If it isn't uncommon for quidditch games to go on for days then are all the students excused from classes for that time? What if two houses can't find a decent seeker? Their next match may never end!

ETA: It just seems that she cannot have put much thought into the rules of quidditch.

Abr 9, 2008, 2:11am

#23 I'm not sure, but I think that is mainly the pro games. Maybe they have classes of snitch and the pro teams have a faster one so that it takes longer to get caught! :)

Abr 9, 2008, 8:20am

#23 jjwilson:

I had wondered that as well.

#24 notmyrealname:

Interesting theory, I like it!

#22 espy:

Thanks for the info, I look forward to hearing more. Nothing though on state controlled vs. independent papers? That's the thing that bugs me the most, is how Fudge seems to have so much control over the Daily Prophet. Also they seemed to be able to hush up the events of CoS for quite some time (Draco mentions this during the Polyjuice chapter.)

I'd definitely like to hear more about libel and slander laws as they are in England, it might give me some insight into GoF. Thanks Espy!

Oh and now I remember that Ravenclaw riddle! And I'm disgusted thinking about all the vomit that Lee Jordan vanished in this section now being in "everything".

Abr 9, 2008, 9:30am

#25 -- not to mention mouse parts!

Abr 9, 2008, 9:38am

LOL and snails!

Actually just think of all the stuff wizards must vanish, it's got to be all of the really disgusting stuff, because really, if you had to choose between cleaning the litterbox, or just waving your wand to vanish it away, which would you choose?!

Abr 9, 2008, 10:22am

Although if, as Espy says, it disintegrates at the atomic level, there's nothing particularly nasty about it. Still, what if your wand slipped and you vanished, say, your hand? I wonder if there are safeguards built into the spell for such occurances?

Abr 9, 2008, 10:46am

Oh my! Do you suppose that would be even worse than splinching? I mean, at least with splinching the body part can usually be found and put back!

Abr 9, 2008, 11:19am

But if you could vanish a person wouldn't that be as bad as an unforgiveable curse? Maybe it doesn't work on people? Did they ever vanish a living creature?

Abr 9, 2008, 11:22am

#30 -- They were vanishing snails and mice in one of their lessons. I'm thinking this might be a spell for which JKR did not consider all of the ramifications.

Abr 9, 2008, 11:23am

#31 Blasphemer! JKR consdered all possibilities (unless they had to do with math) at all times! ;)

Actually, this is a matter of physics, and physics is math so maybe that explains it!

Abr 9, 2008, 1:30pm

You know, sometimes we analyse this stuff too much. At a certain point, it's just a book. Suspension of disbelief works wonders.

Editado: Abr 9, 2008, 2:11pm

LOL, right you are lg! Of course we all can suspend our disbelief or we wouldn't be voracious readers. I think what's fun for me is picking the books apart with people who I know love the books as much as I do, and are therefore doing it in good fun. If I were doing it for a class or with a group of non-Potterheads, I don't think I would enjoy it nearly as much!

Edited to spell "it" correctly. Yep, I'm so talented that I can misspell a two letter word!

Abr 10, 2008, 3:58pm

I've been forgetting to post this all day! Listening to CoS this morning, Neville vanishes (accidentally) the leg of his desk and McG replaces it with a wave of her wand. I wonder if the molecules of vanished things can be collected into conjured items? Is it like a transporter? I know there are certain items you can't conjure, that food has to be nearby, or you have to know where it is. How does conjuring work for other items? Is it more like a replicator?

Abr 12, 2008, 10:55am

Happy weekend, everyone! Don't forget chapters 21-24 for Monday!