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Harry Potter Lexicon Minute

The Photograph and the Boggart

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The Photograph and the Boggart

In chapter nine of Order of the Phoenix, Rowling does a lot of really poignant foreshadowing for the coming war against Voldemort. In re-reading it, I found new meaning in Harry’s confused anger after Moody shows him the photograph of the original members of the Order. This interaction is so closely followed by Mrs. Weasley’s distressing boggart that I had not previously given it substantial thought, but here are Harry’s thoughts from his brief respite between shocks:

He did not know why he had received such a shock; he had seen his parents’ pictures before, after all, and he had met Wormtail… but to have them sprung on him like that, when he was least expecting it… No one would like that, he thought angrily….

And then, to see them surrounded by all those other happy faces… Benjy Fenwick, who had been found in bits, and Gideon Prewett, who had died like a hero, and the Longbottoms, who had been tortured into madness… all waving happily out of the photograph forevermore, not knowing that they were doomed…. Well, Moody might find that interesting… he, Harry, found it disturbing….

It’s no secret that Harry spends much of Order of the Phoenix responding to the chaos surrounding him with bursts of rage, which are often misdirected. The photograph Moody shows him is a clear visual representation of how quickly war can destroy lives. Harry knows he is in the calm before the storm, and he is terrified that one day soon, everyone who was celebrating Ron’s and Hermione’s new prefect status moments before could meet tragic ends. But Harry cannot deal with that kind of anxiety, so he redirects it into anger toward Moody, whose paranoia probably prevented him from correctly anticipating Harry’s feelings. Moody is described as being “evidently… under the impression he had just given Harry a bit of a treat,” but the photo just reaffirms Harry’s worst fears and reminds him of what he has already lost.

Moments later, Harry happens upon Mrs. Weasley, whose boggart is shifting between the lifeless forms of Ron, Bill, Mr. Weasley, Fred and George, Percy, and Harry, in turn. It’s clear that Mrs. Weasley has also been dwelling on the losses she may face during the war. But what struck me most upon re-reading this scene is Sirius’ reaction:

Sirius was staring at the patch of carpet where the boggart, pretending to be Harry’s body, had lain.

Certainly, this would upset Sirius. It might even be the same form his own boggart would take–although dementors would not be a bad guess either. I think in seeing the boggart of Harry’s dead body, Sirius’ resolve to protect Harry at all costs is fortified, and that foreshadows his own death at the end of the book.

On a final note, I want to say that I think Sirius’ death is what snaps Harry out of his anxiety-fueled rage. In Half-Blood Prince, he is charming and charismatic, if a bit melancholy at times. His fear has become reality, and rather than “shut [himself] away or…crack up,” as he tells Dumbledore Sirius wouldn’t have wanted him to do, he pushes through it with acceptance and resolve.

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, just a couple of 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.

Special thanks go to Felicia Cano who gave us permission to use her amazing artwork of Hermione reading a book for the logo, which was created by Kim B.

Check out the PodBean app here

And if you want to create a podcast of your own, check out PodBean's hosting service.

Music: "Winter Chimes" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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, just a couple of 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.

Special thanks go to Felicia Cano who gave us permission to use her amazing artwork of Hermione reading a book for the logo, which was created by Kim B.

Check out the PodBean app here

And if you want to create a podcast of your own, check out PodBean's hosting service.

Music: "Winter Chimes" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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