Will “The Boy Who Lived” become the boy who dies?

Candace BraunCOMMENTARY

They call him “The Boy Who Lived” because he miraculously defied death at the hands of the evil Lord Voldemort. After immersing themselves in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ 784 pages, I believe readers will continue to refer to the title character as such.

Though some argue that Harry Potter is poised to become the next epic hero by surrendering himself to save the wizarding world, I’d bet a sack of galleons that Harry will survive. He would – and probably will try to – sacrifice himself in an instant to save those he loves, but it doesn’t mean that Harry must die to prove that bond exists.

As former Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore said in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, “If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love.” Voldemort’s greatest weakness is his inability to rely on and care for another, making him truly alone despite his legion of followers (who maintain their allegiance because of a lust for power and a fear of death). Harry’s mother’s death demonstrated the sacrifice of one’s life out of love, but that is not love’s sole power. Killing Harry would be too easy – it’d just rehash the same tired good-guy-death that Rowling has used in previous novels. Furthermore, Voldemort would never feel truly defeated unless he died while Harry lived, still pure of heart. Voldemort would see that love is a strength, not a defect, evoking the grand epiphany necessary to end a series such as this.

Also, anyone hoping that Dumbledore will rise from the dead in this novel will be sorely disappointed. As found on Accio-quote.org, in a 2000 interview with The Herald, Rowling said that, as in real life, nothing will truly revive the deceased. What I think readers will discover instead, though, is that his murderer, Professor Snape, was only acting upon Dumbledore’s wishes for Snape to “prove” his allegiance to Voldemort so that later he can help Harry destroy the Dark Lord. Snape has long served as a double agent in this war among wizards, and his battle to prove which side he’s really on will play a major role in this book.

If this Snape theory is true, then Dumbledore became a martyr for the greater good, which also negates the need for Harry to die to exemplify death as an act of sacrifice.

Harry’s survival doesn’t mean that the novel will turn into a mushy, happily-ever-after tale. Though the brutality of war may cause Hermione and Ron to swallow their pride and admit their feelings for each other, their happiness could be ephemeral. As exposed in Order of the Phoenix, Mrs. Weasley’s biggest fear is that her children or husband will be murdered, which may foreshadow Ron’s demise. Similarly, Hermione has always been the bravest and most skilled of Harry’s friends, but could her intrepidity cost the heroine her life?

Ultimately, as Harry completes his final year at Hogwarts while searching for and destroying the final four horcruxes – none of which I believe to be Harry, because I can’t see why Voldemort would place a part of his soul in someone he’s been trying so desperately to murder – he must overcome the aching void that death leaves behind and find strength and solace in the love of those around him.

Are my predictions as far off as Professor Trelawney’s tea leaf readings? Who knows? I guess we’ll find out on July 21, when Deathly Hallows makes its world debut.

Caroline CamisascaCOMMENTARY

Harry Potter is going to die. I know what you Harry fanatics are thinking: How can I say that? How could J.K. Rowling possibly kill off our hero, and in a children’s book no less? Well, it would go against the nature of the story.

J.K. Rowling has previously promised the deaths of two major characters in the final book. Harry is going to be one of them.

Let’s start with the prophecy revealed to Harry in the fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Dumbledore brings back a memory of Professor Sibyll Trelawney, whose character is much like a mythological oracle, that says:

“The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches … and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives…”

O.K., so why can’t that mean that Voldemort will die, and not Harry? I think that Harry and Voldemort will vanquish each other in their final battle, and both will die. The reasoning here lies in the fact that J.K. Rowling has intricately woven mythology and religion throughout the story. Many mythological heroes ended their stories by being killed. Heracles (or Hercules) was a loved and respected hero who was, in the end, poisoned and burned to death on a pile of trees. In Christianity, Jesus Christ was killed by his own people in order to save them from eternal damnation. In a mythological and religious sense, it would be logical for Harry to die.

Another reason why Harry is going to die is that Rowling is known for having unforeseen twists in each of Harry’s adventures. Each of these twists seems to create a bleaker and more dismal situation for Harry. In other words, Harry’s life is not a happy one and was never destined to be a happy one. His story is perhaps intended to end sorrowfully. A happy ending would contradict the nature of the story.

Despite this miserable reality, it does not mean an absence of respect or everlasting reverence for Harry. Despite how badly we all want him to survive, perhaps saving the entirety of the wizarding world by sacrificing himself is the honorable and praiseworthy death he deserves. In fact, true to Harry’s character, it would probably be what he wants. So don’t fret Harry devotees – his legacy will live on as we continue to read and reread of his bravery.

On that note, there is only one thing left to say:

We love you, Harry Potter. Farewell.

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