Study Guide

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Friendship

By J.K. Rowling

Friendship

[Harry] had forgotten completely about prefects being chosen in the fifth year. He had been too anxious about the possibility of being expelled to spare a thought for the fact that badges must be winging their way towards certain people. But if he had remembered ... if he had thought about it ... what would he have expected?

Not this, said a small and truthful voice inside his head.

Harry screwed up his face and buried it in his hands. He could not lie to himself; if he had known the prefect badge was on its way, he would have expected it to come to him, not Ron. Did this make him as arrogant as Draco Malfoy? Did he think himself superior to everyone else? Did he really believe he was better than Ron? (9.170-172)

The thing is, J.K. Rowling has told us that the purpose of Book 5 is to show us Harry as "a very human hero" (source).  And the problem with humans (at least, in J.K. Rowling's representation), is that we are petty, angry, faulty creatures. Because Harry is human, he cannot help but think (in his heart of hearts) that he is better than Ron because he has faced Voldemort on his own and survived to tell the tale. Even if Harry loves Ron, it's still understandable that he would think he deserves the prefect badge more than Ron. Still, even if it's understandable, it's not admirable. It makes us a little uncomfortable to read about our hero, Harry Potter, being petty and resentful. But again, that seems to be the point J.K. Rowling is making about true heroism: to be a hero, you don't have to be superhuman. You don't have to be more virtuous than everybody else on the planet. You just have to be generally brave, usually kind, and often filled with sympathy. Not all the time – just often enough to help your friends when they need you.

Harry lay back on his pillows while Ron bustled around the next bed, putting his things away. He felt shaken by the argument with Seamus, whom he had always liked very much. How many more people were going to suggest that he was lying, or unhinged?

Had Dumbledore suffered like this all summer, as first the Wizengamot, then the International Confederation of Wizards had thrown him from their ranks? Was it anger at Harry, perhaps, that had stopped Dumbledore getting in touch with him for months? The two of them were in this together, after all; Dumbledore had believed Harry, announced his version of events to the whole school and then to the wider wizarding community. Anyone who thought Harry was a liar had to think that Dumbledore was, too, or else that Dumbledore had been hoodwinked ... (11.168-169)

On their first night back to Hogwarts, Seamus Finnegan – with whom Harry has shared a dorm room for the last four years – tells him point blank that he thinks Harry's crazy for believing that Voldemort is back. If Seamus can think that of Harry when they have lived together for almost a quarter of their lives, how many people out there are going to think Harry's crazy? This is one of the only moments in Book 5 when Harry really feels sympathy for Professor Dumbledore, who is also caught up in this P.R. nightmare. Why does Harry's sense of solidarity with Dumbledore disappear so quickly? Why is it necessary to the plot of Book 5 that Harry and Dumbledore be estranged from each other?

"Yes, Lavender thinks [Harry is lying about Voldemort] too," [Hermione] said gloomily.

"Been having a nice little chat with her about whether or not I'm a lying, attention-seeking prat, have you?" Harry said loudly.

"No," said Hermione calmly. "I told her to keep her big fat moth shut about you, actually. And it would be quite nice if you stopped jumping down our throats, Harry, because in case you haven't noticed, Ron and I are on your side" (12.15-17)

Having a best friend means having someone who forgives you for being a total d-bag when they're just trying to help. Hermione is the voice of reason through much of Book 5, always willing to give Harry a reality check. But because she's (almost) always right, she may seem a little one-dimensional at times. How does J.K. Rowling try to keep Hermione real?

"You can laugh," Luna said, her voice rising, apparently under the impression that Parvati and Lavender were laughing at what she had said rather than what she was wearing, "but people used to believe there were no such things as the Blibbering Humdinger or the Crumple-Horned Snorkack!"

"Well, they were right, weren't they?" said Hermione impatiently. "There weren't any such things as the Blibbering Humdinger or the Crumple-Horned Snorkack."

Luna gave her a withering look and flounced away, radishes swinging madly. Parvati and Lavender were not the only ones hooting with laughter now.

"D'you mind not offending the only people who believe me?" Harry asked Hermione as they made their way into class. (13.113-116)

Luna believes in Harry wholeheartedly, and it's thanks to her support that he manages to get his interview published in The Quibbler. But she is also so eccentric that people feel no remorse about making fun of her openly. Indeed, in one of her last appearances in the book, she is going around the school pinning up notices for her lost clothes and books because her own classmates have hidden them. She takes all of this bullying in stride and remains absolutely true to her own convictions, though, which is admirable (even if she does seem, well, a bit loony). What do you make of Luna's character? Does she remind you of anyone you know? Does she seem realistic or recognizable to you? What does Luna add to Book 5 as a character?

Don't sit there grinning like you know better than I do, I was there, wasn't I? [...] I know what went on, all right? And I didn't get through any of that because I was brilliant at Defense Against the Dark Arts, I got through it all because – because help came at the right time, or because I guessed right – but I just blundered through it all, I didn't have a clue what I was doing – STOP LAUGHING! (15.245)

When Hermione asks Harry to lead their Defense Against the Dark Arts club, he freaks out. He doesn't want to take credit for everything that has happened to him. He claims that he survived all of his battles with Voldemort through luck, because he "guessed right." But when he first sees Ron's prefect badge, Harry is secretly outraged because he has stood against Voldemort and Ron hasn't – doesn't he deserve a little credit? Harry's about-face as he starts feeling embarrassment about his achievements demonstrates that he is incredibly moody these days. But we have to ask: why is Harry protesting so much at Ron and Hermione's faith in him? Why does he deny their enthusiasm at his skills? Where is this sudden protest from Harry coming from, do you think?

"Winky is still drinking lots, sir," he said sadly, his enormous round green eyes, large as tennis balls, downcast. "She still does not care for clothes, Harry Potter . Nor do the other house-elves. None of them will clean Gryffindor Tower any more, not with the hats and socks hidden everywhere, they finds them insulting, sir. Dobby does it all himself, sir, but Dobby does not mind, sir, for he always hopes to meet Harry Potter and tonight, sir, he has got his wish!" Dobby sank into a deep bow again. (18.145)

Dobby reveals what we have all guessed: that Hermione's knitted hats and socks have not freed a single house-elf. The interesting thing about Dobby is that he is a free elf, but he has still not moved completely beyond house-elf nature. It's just that he has chosen his own master, and that master is Harry Potter. He still regards Harry with the same kind of slavish devotion that Kreacher lavishes on Mrs. Black's portrait and memory. Dobby is different from the rest of his kind, but he's still a house-elf – he's not all that changed.

Ron said, "One person can't feel all that at once, they'd explode."

"Just because you've got the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn't mean we all have," said Hermione nastily, picking up her quill again.

"[Cho] was the one who started it," said Harry. "I wouldn't've – she just sort of came at me – and the next thing she's crying all over me – I didn't know what to do —" (21.187-189)

When Harry debriefs Ron and Hermione about his first kiss with Cho, Hermione acts as a translator for all the feelings running through Cho – the conflicting feelings that made her kiss Harry and then cry all over him. Harry and Ron are both stunned that Cho could be feeling so much, but for Hermione, it seems obvious. J.K. Rowling is clearly playing on stereotypes that girls at fifteen are a lot more in touch with their own emotions (and those of other people) than boys are. In your experience, do you think that's true?

"See what they've named themselves?" said Fudge quietly. "Dumbledore's Army."

Dumbledore reached out and took the piece of parchment from Fudge. He gazed at the heading scribbled by Hermione months before and for a moment seemed unable to speak. Then he looked up, smiling.

"Well, the game is up," he said simply. "Would you like a written confession from me, Cornelius – or will a statement before these witnesses suffice?" (27.198-200)

In a split second, presented with the evidence that the D.A. has been calling itself Dumbledore's Army, Dumbledore decides to take the fall for Harry and his friends. What do you think his feelings are in reading the heading Hermione had written on top of the list of names? How do you think he feels about leaving the school at this juncture? We never really learn what Dumbledore was doing outside of Hogwarts – what do you think he was up to?

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