Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The infamous J. K. Rowling interview

You've probably heard by now that J. K. Rowling did an interview last week in which she discussed deaths in Harry Potter book 7. I finally got around to reading the transcript of the interview, and I have to say that I got a very different impression from reading the complete transcript than I had from reading the various quotes that have been taken out of context and bandied about.

First of all, the quotes that I had seen before made it seem like there was a good chance that Harry himself would die in book 7, which made me upset because I felt like Rowling had lost touch with her audience. I mean, heroic death is one thing, but there are millions of kids who have literally grown up with Harry and identify with him strongly. For Rowling to kill Harry would, I think, be cruel. But on reading the entire interview, although she never said one way or another, I was left with the strong impression that Rowling also thinks it would be a bad idea to kill Harry. Her responses to the initial questions on the topic were ambiguous but sympathetic. But the interviewers wouldn't let it rest and kept badgering her, and finally she said that she could understand why an author would want to kill off their main character, so that no one else could write about him. That's a far cry from saying that she feels this way.

Secondly, on the subject of other deaths, people have been quoting her as saying that two "main characters" would die. Actually, that's not exactly what she said. She said that two characters die who originally weren't supposed to die, and she implies from the answer to the next question that they are "well-loved" characters. Well-loved characters are different than main characters, and so it would seem that these two characters can't be Draco, Percy, Snape, or Voldemort himself. But she doesn't say that only two characters die, just that these two weren't originally intended to die. So there could be more deaths, of well-loved or of not-so-well-loved characters.

If you've seen the quotes and commentary, but haven't read the interview, I urge you to read the entire interview and make up your own mind.

And, if you're not tired of reading Harry Potter speculation, here's mine. I think Snape will die heroically; I think she's set things up so that there can really be no other outcome for Snape. I don't think that Dumbledore will come back, except maybe as a wizard photograph, because it would invalidate the message that Rowling has reiterated over and over about death being natural. And I've been saying for several books now that there is more to Petunia than meets the eye; HBP would seem to confirm this. I think we'll see more about Petunia in book 7.

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