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Canon discussion / Harry Potter Lexicon Minute

Order of the Phoenix Chapter 1

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Cars that were usually gleaming stood dusty in their drives and lawns that were once emerald green lay parched and yellowing -- for the use of hosepipes had been banned due to drought.

-- OP1

Order of the Phoenix Chapter 1

Today we’re spending a little bit of time with chapter one of Order of the Phoenix.

From the very beginning, we’re introduced to the theme of drought. Rowling writes:

Cars that were usually gleaming stood dusty in their drives and lawns that were once emerald green lay parched and yellowing — for the use of hosepipes had been banned due to drought.

This chapter takes place on the second of August, 1995. And Rowling is spot on with the whole drought thing. In fact, in the summer of 1995 there actually was a pretty severe drought in England and hosepipe bans were a very real thing.

In story terms, the drought mirrors the complete lack of contact Harry has with the Wizarding World at that time. He is experiencing an emotional “drought,” if you will, which sets the tone for the entire book.

And why did Rowling inflict this emotional starvation on her main character? Because at the end of book four, Harry feels like he’s at the top of his game. He’s a champion, a hero. He’s defeated a dragon, proving his worth among students much older than he is. He has learned about his wonderful family — his father the Quidditch champion and his mother who was so loved by everyone. He’s a Quidditch sensation himself. He has even faced off against Voldemort and survived. Harry sees himself as becoming what I like to call “Superhero Harry,” capable of anything. Maybe capable of defeating the Dark Lord once and for all.

In book five, we’re going to see all of that stripped away. No matter how powerful Superhero Harry might become, he would never be able to stand against Voldemort. He needs to become a new type of hero, one who relies on something other than fighting prowess and his “saving people thing,” as Hermione calls it.

That transformation is what Book Five is all about.

Commentary

Notes

In the Harry Potter Lexicon Minute podcast you’ll hear the voices of our editors sharing some of the many little things which delight us about the Wizarding World. In each podcast, one to two minutes in length, we’ll talk about anything from cool trivia and interesting canon passages to the latest Wizarding World news. We hope you’ll join us! And we’d love to hear from you as well. Feel free to use the comment section on the blogpost for each podcast to post your thoughts.

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