Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Crank On The Prince

The Baseball Crank's looking at the Half Blood Prince today. A couple of odds and ends: (Again, spoilers a-plenty - highlight to read...)

it hit me that it [R.A.B.] really had to be Sirius' brother, Regulus Black

I agree. In fact, given the fact that he's actually mentioned - by name - three times in The Half-Blood Prince, I don't think that there's any doubt. There's got to be a reason that a non-character, who died years ago, and never met Harry, and has but a dubious connection to him, was mentioned three times. Just hints to remind us that he was out there.
Page 50: "...Sirius was the very last of the line as his younger brother, Regulus, predeceased him..."
Page 70: "...Sirius ended up in Gryffindor! Shame - he was a talented boy. I got his brother, Regulus, when he came along..."
Page 106: "...I'm surprised he stayed alive for even a year after deserting the Death Eaters; Sirius' brother, Regulus, only managed a few days..."
(Page numbers from the Scholastic edition).

Three times, by name. Each mention is rather gratuitous - not one of those places would have been changed a whit by the omission of the name. She did it on purpose.
*I felt rather betrayed by the revelation that Snape had been a bad guy all along...Dumledore's death serves two necessary plot elements - like Obi-Wan and Gandalf, his death leaves the hero to finish the task alone, without the aid of the bad guy's equal; and, his death underlines the point he had long made about the need to not fear death. Of course, it was nonetheless sad to see his last act be the betrayal of Snape, whom he had trusted.

I don't think we know that.
Pages 403-404:

"Well - I jus' heard Snape sayin' Dumbledore took too much fer granted an' maybe he - Snape - didn' wan' ter do it anymore -"
"Do what?"
"I dunno, Harry, it sounded like Snape was feelin' a bit overworked, tha's all - anyway, Dumbledore told him flat out he'd agreed ter do it an' that was all there was to it. Pretty firm with him."

Pages 595-596:

But somebody else had spoken Snape's name, quite softly.
The sound frightened Harry beyond anything he had experienced all evening. For the first time, DUmbledore was pleading.
Snape said nothing, but walked forward and pushed Malfoy roughly out of the way. The three Death Eaters fell back without a word. Even the werewolf seemed cowed.
Snape gazed for a moment at Dumbledore, and there was revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines of his face.
Snape raised his wand and pointed it directly at DUmbledore.
"Avada Kedavra!"

Frankly, reading it again, I'm even more convinced that Snape's on the right side. I think that the "revulsion and hatred" is for what he has to do. It's Dumbledore's pleading that convinces me. Nothing that we've seen from Albus Dumbledore, nothing, leads us to believe that he'd plead for his life. I'm 90+% convinced that Snape did what Dumbledore wanted him to do...
*The opening scene with the Prime Minister was funny, but it will have to be cut from the movie version - partly because the best parts were his internal dialogue, and partly because on film you can't finesse the "do we make him Tony Blair or not" aspect, which will be a distraction. Overall, the scenes with Scrimgeour underline Rowling's contempt for politicians and government, as they demonstrate that the more hawkish Scrimgeour is really not much of an improvement over the denial and appeasement of Fudge.

I'll go a step further, and say that the whole "Stan Shunpike in Azkaban" thing irked me. I felt (and I may be reading too much into it) like that was a shot at the US and Britain holding enemy combatants. Certainly, many on the left would take the position (which I do not agree with) that we're holding innocent people without trial. I could be mis-reading that section, but that's how it struck me.

*The door is still open for Pettigrew to play a Gollum-like role, after Harry spared him, if Rowling wants to be that unoriginal.

I don't know how "Gollum-like" it will be, but I'll be very disappointed if there is not some pivotal role yet to be played by Pettigrew.

"Pettigrew owes his life to you. You have sent Voldemort a deputy who is in your debt...When one wizard saves another wizard's life, it creates a certain bond between them...and I'm much mistaken if Voldemort wants his servant in the debt of Harry Potter."
"I don't want a connection with Pettigrew!" said Harry. "He betrayed my parents!"
"This is magic at its deepest, its most impenetrable, Harry. But trust me...the time may come when you will be very glad you saved Pettigrew's life."

I trust Dumbledore - she's got to use Pettigrew somehow.

And she's also got to explain this: "For a fleeing instant, Harry though he saw a gleam of something like triumph in Dumbledore's eyes." (Goblet of Fire)



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