Friday, August 24

Regarding Henry, or The Fish Who Lived

This is Henry. He’s a betta fish who came to live with me in May. Henry enjoys swimming and eating. I’m still trying to discern his taste in music. I think we can say he likes Pet Sounds, doesn’t care for Wilco and is ambivalent about the Beatles. For some time after he arrived, the theme song from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood would run through my head every time I fed him. Yes, Henry, I will be your neighbor.

He has done well for the most part. He seems to enjoy his home in a Pier 1 candle holder, as it affords more rooms for swimming than the vase he arrived in. That is until about 3 weeks ago when I slacked off changing his water regularly. He developed a white spot on his back, stopped eating, and hung around at the bottom of the bowl. When I finally realized the effect my negligence was having I was stricken with guilt and acted quickly. I started changing some of his water every day until it was clear, hoping that he could hang on until then. I have had fish die on me before, so I tried to prepare myself for the possibility that I could walk in one day and find him floating lifelessly. It was an anxious time.

Henry joined me just in time for Summer 2007, which shall be known in the future as The Summer of Harry Potter. I finished rereading the released books, saw Order of the Phoenix in the theatre, anticipated, read and afterwards discussed The Deathly Hallows. It’s no wonder that with so much Harry on the brain I kept wanting to call Henry Harry instead. During these days when his life was hanging in the balance I thought, “I might as well have named him Harry, seeing as how all I do is wonder whether he’s going to live or die.”

Henry must come from good stock, because his immune system rallied and fought off the white spot. Now in clean water, he perked up, starting swimming around and once again greeted me with those expectant bulging eyes at mealtimes. I breathed a sigh of relief. The rescue of Henry (from myself) was a success.

He still has his off days. Sometimes he sticks pretty close to the bottom, and I start to get apprehensive. But I’m proud of him for pulling though and sticking with me. He’s The Fish Who Lived. So far.

Thursday, August 2

Then we shall find out who is right…and who is dead

It was tough transitioning back to everyday life after finishing The Deathly Hallows last Monday night. For a while I didn’t want to read anything else while the conclusion simmered in my head. Then I hit on the idea of C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce, which was a short but profound read that Deathly Hallows had reminded me of, and it helped me get my thoughts about it in order.


First of all, who is right:
Thank goodness I was about Harry, Ron, Hermione, and most of the Weasleys living. I also called Mad-Eye’s death in battle and the bad guys’ downfall. I’m giving myself partial credit on Neville. At first I was disappointed that he didn’t get to take out Bellatrix, but I had been concerned all along about how exactly he was going to do that. I didn’t want him to have to cast a killing curse, so I’m really pleased at how things turned out. Mrs. Weasley was fabulous, and Neville helped kill Voldemort! I’ve loved watching him grow and mature as the books go on, and when he came out of the tunnel in the Hog’s Head I was so thrilled to see him. He was bruised and beaten, but still strong and hopeful. When Harry says, “Kill the snake,” Neville kills the snake. In front of Voldemort. How cool is that? Lets hear it for the Neville Longbottoms and Samwise Gamgees of the world; without them our heroes wouldn’t be heroes.

I’m also giving myself partial credit on Harry’s interaction with Dumbledore at the end. So I was wrong about him going through the veil to do it (although I think there are multiple ways to get to King’s Cross, and the veil is one of them), but I was sure that Harry would willingly give up his life, pass to a place beyond, and return to defeat Voldemort.

Who is dead:
Whenever the possibility that one of the twins could die crept into my head before I read the book, I banished it quickly. “No, she won’t go there,” I thought. “It would be too much. Fred living without George? George without Fred? No way. She won’t do that to us.” But she did. Yes, I was sad and shocked by little Dobby’s death (who has annoyed me since book 2—I never thought I would be sad to see him go), but when Fred died everything just stopped. I’m glad I was wrong about Percy coming back, but part of me wishes it had been him instead. What will George do without his partner?

I’m also disappointed that more didn’t happen with Draco. He remained a coward throughout, never willing to do too much either way. Perhaps the curt nod he gives Harry in the epilogue is the best he can manage. It is, after all, much better than the way his father treated Ron’s dad. But I can't help thinking that J.K. Rowling could have done more with his character.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Deathly Hallows. I never cried much, but I was on the verge of tears most of the time I wasn’t laughing, gasping or saying a shocked, “What?” to the book. It was an emotional experience, concluding this journey with Harry. My two main criticisms—the wand-conquering info was too complicated and slowed things down at the critical moment, and the epilogue was a bit too twee—don’t stop me from recognizing all that was wonderful about this book. It’s given me lots to think about regarding sacrifice and life and relationships and death and purpose, which is what a good book should do.