Study Guide

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Youth

By J.K. Rowling

Youth

"Harry's not a member of the Order of the Phoenix!" said Mrs. Weasley. "He's only fifteen and —"

"And he's dealt with as much as most in the Order," said Sirius, "and more than some."

"No one's denying what he's done!" said Mrs. Weasley, her voice rising, her fists trembling on the arms of her chair. "But he's still —"

"He's not a child!" said Sirius impatiently.

"He's not an adult either!" said Mrs. Weasley, the color rising in her cheeks. "He's not James, Sirius!" (5.105-10

Harry loves that Sirius treats him like an equal. And Mrs. Weasley is disastrously overprotective in the first couple of chapters of this novel, probably because she is so worried about what is going to happen to her family now that Voldemort is rising again. But the thing is, we do think that Mrs. Weasley is partly right: Sirius is getting confused about who Harry truly is. He encourages Harry to be as reckless and impulsive as possible. But Harry's recklessness drives him to the Department of Mysteries when he has no reason to be there. If Sirius had treated Harry more like a son and less like a partner in crime, a lot of things could have been avoided. J.K. Rowling comments, "I see Sirius as someone who was a case of arrested development. I think you see that from his relationship with Harry in Phoenix. He kind of wants a mate from Harry, and what Harry craves is a father. Harry's kind of outgrowing that now. Sirius wasn't equipped to give him that" (source).

Harry did not read any further. Fudge might have had many faults, but Harry found it extremely hard to imagine him ordering goblins to be cooked in pies. He flicked through the rest of [The Quibbler]. Pausing every few pages, he read: an accusation that the Tutshill Tornados were winning the Quidditch League by a combination of blackmail, illegal broom-tampering and torture; an interview with a wizard who claimed to have flown to the moon on a Cleansweep Six and brought back a bag of moon frogs to prove it; and an article on ancient runes which at least explained why Luna had been reading The Quibbler upside-down. According to the magazine, if you turned the runes on their heads they revealed a spell to make your enemy's ears into kumquats. In fact, compared to the rest of the articles in The Quibbler, the suggestion that Sirius might really be the lead singer of The Hobgoblins was quite sensible. (10.144)

The Quibbler is basically the wizarding equivalent of The Globe or The National Enquirer: a tabloid that no one really believes. Yet, it keeps publishing. What do people get out of reading tabloids? Are there people out there who truly believe those wild tabloid stories? Or do they just get a kick out of reading farfetched headlines?

"They're hats for house-elves," she said briskly, now stuffing her books back into her bag. "I did them over the summer. I'm a really slow knitter without magic but now I'm back at school I should be able to make lots more."

"You're leaving out hats for the house-elves?" said Ron slowly. "And you're covering them up with rubbish first?"

"Yes," said Hermione defiantly, swinging her bag on to her back.

"That's not on," said Ron angrily. "You're trying to trick them into picking up the hats. You're setting them free when they might not want to be free." (13.62-65)

Two things about this quote: first, Harry's fights with Ron and Hermione are so dire that we sometimes overlook how much Ron and Hermione squabble in Book 5. They fight over house-elf rights, over Fred and George, and over Professor Snape. So, clearly that teenage angst that's weighing Harry down is getting to Ron and Hermione too, just in smaller portions. Second, Hermione is continuing her house-elf advocacy that she starts in Book 4. How do you feel about her house-elf work? Why does this particular cause seem so important to her? What does her house-elf work tell you about Hermione's character?

"She says that on no account whatsoever are you to take part in an illegal secret Defense Against the Dark Arts group. She says you'll be expelled for sure and your future will be ruined. She says there will be plenty of time to learn how to defend yourself later and that you are too young to be worrying about that right now. She also" (Sirius's eyes turned to the other two) "advises Harry and Hermione not to proceed with the group, though she accepts that she has no authority over either of them and simply begs them to remember that she has their best interests at heart." (17.219)

Mrs. Weasley is so concerned about the D.A. that she passes on this message to Ron, Harry, and Hermione through Sirius's Firecall. Now, we've gotten some background on why Mrs. Weasley is being so overprotective in Chapter 9, "The Woes of Mrs. Weasley." At the same time, her efforts to prevent the D.A. seem to us to be along the lines of Dumbledore shutting Sirius Black into Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place. Yes, on the face of it, she is protecting them. But the psychological stress of trying to go along with Professor Umbridge would be so great that they would all crack before too long. The D.A. is dangerous, but it's also necessary activity that gives them hope and energy.

Without preamble, Harry told his godfather every detail of the vision he had had, including the fact that he himself had been the snake who had attacked Mr. Weasley.

When he paused for breath, Sirius said, "Did you tell Dumbledore this?"

"Yes," said Harry impatiently, "but he didn't tell me what it meant. Well, he doesn't tell me anything any more."

"I'm sure he would have told you if it was anything to worry about," said Sirius steadily. (22.136-139)

We've spent most of this module talking about how reckless Sirius is – and we stand by that; he's kind of a loose cannon. At the same time, when Harry levels with Sirius about the vision he has had from the snake's perspective, Sirius doesn't say a word to Harry about what the Order suspects about Harry's link to Voldemort. He does treat Harry as someone who must be protected from the truth. Does this seem out of character to you? Why does Sirius not share information with Harry at this point? How would it change the novel if Sirius did spill the beans about Harry's relationship to Voldemort?

"Well, for a first attempt that was not as poor as it might have been," said Snape, raising his wand once more. "You managed to stop me eventually, though you wasted time and energy shouting. You must remain focused. Repel me with your brain and you will not need to resort to your wand."

"I'm trying," said Harry angrily, "but you're not telling me how!"

“Manners, Potter," said Snape dangerously. (24.198-200)

What do you think of Professor Snape's teaching style as he tries to instruct Harry in Occlumency? Could you have figured out Occlumency from Snape's teaching? Why does Harry find Occlumency so difficult? Is it Professor Snape in particular, or is it Harry's own approach to Occlumency? Does Harry's struggles with Occlumency tell you anything about his character?

You don't get it! [...] I'm not having nightmares, I'm not just dreaming! What d'you think all the Occlumency was for, why d'you think Dumbledore wanted me prevented from seeing these things? Because they're REAL, Hermione – Sirius is trapped, I've seen him. Voldemort's got him, and no one else knows, and that means we're the only ones who can save him, and if you don't want to do it, fine, but I'm going, understand? (32.67)

Harry has this bizarre, irrational break here: he insists that Dumbledore wanted him to study Occlumency to prevent him from seeing things that are "REAL." Why does it never once occur to Harry that Dumbledore might want Harry not to see these things because they are fake? Why does Harry want so badly for his visions to be true? What does he hope to achieve through confronting these visions?

Harry turned to look where Neville was staring. Directly above them, framed in the doorway from the Brain Room, stood Albus Dumbledore, his wand aloft, his face white and furious. Harry felt a kind of electric charge surge through every particle of his body – they were saved. (35.268)

After this whole year of turning his back on Professor Dumbledore, when Harry sees him at the Ministry of Magic, he falls back on his faith that Professor Dumbledore will save them. He still believes that Professor Dumbledore can fix just about anything. But Harry's faith is going to get a final test, as Professor Dumbledore's presence still can't save Sirius from his inevitable fate. And here's another question we want to ask: why doesn't Professor Dumbledore kill Voldemort at the end of Book 5? Why doesn't Professor Dumbledore even try? Do the future books give us a clue?

And notice this, Harry: [Voldemort] chose, not the pureblood (which, according to his creed, is the only kind of wizard worth being or knowing) but the half-blood, like himself. He saw himself in you before he had ever seen you, and in marking you with that scar, he did not kill you, as he intended, but gave you powers, and a future, which have fitted you to escape him not once, but four times so far – something that neither your parents, nor Neville's parents, ever achieved. (37.206)

At the end of Book 2, when Harry worries about how much he is like the young Voldemort, Tom Riddle, Professor Dumbledore tells him that it's his choices that have put Harry in Gryffindor instead of Slytherin. We all have the choice to follow our better natures. But then, here, at the end of Book 5, Professor Dumbledore strongly emphasizes fate: Voldemort has chosen Harry, has given him "powers, and a future." So, where's the choice in that? What tension does this series create between personal choice and fate? Which do you think is more powerful in the Harry Potter world?

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