Book Roulette: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K. Rowling. Scholastic: 2004. 435 pp.
We’re almost halfway through Harry Potter, can you believe it? I’ve enjoyed re-reading these books, though I have to admit I’m not very good at the whole re-reading concept. Maybe it’s just that, between the books and the movies, I know these stories so well already. They defined my generation, and reading them again is like eating your favorite meal every Tuesday for a year. It’s really good, but after a while you know it so well it doesn’t knock you over like it used to.
Fortunately, I do notice snippets of the writing that hit me differently this time around. They’re not usually big: a quote here, a description there, but they’re enough for me to understand why these books are so powerful. They’re not really about magic. They’re about family, friendship, identity, growing up and understanding that you’re a part of something much bigger than yourself. They’re also about loss, adversity, and coping when bad things happen to good people.
There’s a part in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban that I thought really illustrated the theme of loss throughout the novels. Harry spends a lot of time thinking about his parents in this book: between the search for Sirius Black and the whole Patronus thing, he regains the hope that his parents aren’t so far removed from him.
In this portion, Dumbledore offers Harry some advice on his questions regarding his family:
You think the dead we loved ever truly leave us? You think that we don’t recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble? Your father is alive in you, Harry, and shows himself most plainly when you have need of him. How else could you produce that particular Patronus? Prongs rode again last night. … Last night Sirius told me all about how they became Animagi. An extraordinary achievement–not least, keeping it quiet from m. And then I remembered the most unusual form your Patronus took, when it charged Mr. Malfoy down at your Quidditch match against Ravenclaw. You know, Harry, in a way, you did see your father last night. … You found him inside yourself.
Those we have loved and lost are never truly gone. Regardless of what you believe about the afterlife, the impact the passed have made continues to show long after their passing. It is in their loved ones that we continue to see them, especially in the times we need them the most.