On Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

A couple of weeks ago, I watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1, with a few friends.  I’ve watched the previous Harry Potter movies, but never got around to reading them.  I admit that part of the reluctance was the immense popularity of the books…  This time, however, I had to read the book after I watched part 1.  I can’t bear surprises and not knowing if the conclusion is within reach.  I borrowed the book from a die-hard fan, who dutifully brought the book with her to the movie (she also watched the movie 5 times in the first week it was out).  I read the second part of the book from where the movie left off.  I have to admit that J.K. Rowling is a really good writer and storyteller.  My favorite character thus far is Snape.  I decided I will read the other Potter books, but in reverse order like a true archaeologist.

As archaeologists, we generally know how things ended: decayed, disappeared, in ruins, abandoned, reused, dead.  As we peel back the layers of dirt and put on our thinking caps, we construct stories and become attached to the people in the past.  It’s going through life backwards.  Knowing how people ended up and then finding out how it came to be resonates with me deeply.  One of my favorite books in high school was The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien.  First, the idea that people’s personalities are in the things they carry is very archaeological.  Second, one of the most moving passages I’ve ever read was from this book titled “The man I killed.”  It was about a young vietcong man the author had killed.  As the author was standing over the body, he began to recreate this man’s life, how he came to be and what he would’ve become.  The story the author created about this man’s life eerily mirrored his own aspirations: scholar-writer.  The author had only met the man when he killed him.  He was the cause of this man’s end, but immortalized him through reconstructing how he came to be.  Poor sod.  This is why I like Snape so much at the end.  I found out how he ended, and that’s when I really met him.  Reading the books in reverse order will be interesting…

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