There are Harry Potter spoilers in this post AFTER the break.
Amazingly enough, as a children’s literacy professional, I am on several email discussion lists about (wait for it) children’s literature. Shocking, I know.
So, just in case you live in a cave, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out on July 21st. Hopefully you won’t be surprised to hear that most discussion lately on these lists has revolved around the adventures of some teenage wizards and final showdown with big bad Lord Voldemort.
But here’s what’s gotten everyone’s panties in a twist–the fact that J. K. Rowling has the GALL AND NERVE to go on live television and in live chat sessions with fans and give them information about the lives of her characters that didn’t make it into the epilogue.
Now, I’m no literary theorist. But, apparently, there’s a school of thought by one of the big philosopher names I’ve never read nor studied, about the Death of the Author. And that’s what these people are arguing for. The book is the only evidence we get of the story– everything beyond what is on the page is up to the reader. If she hasn’t published it, it doesn’t count. And therefore all of her interviews, answering fan’s questions, are narcissim and unfairly intrusive on the reader’s experience.
Seriously? An author who has spent over a decade crafting the life of this young man doesn’t get to say what he does as a career because she couldn’t work that piece of information into the epilogue?
These are the same people that are upset because some fans fail to recognize that these characters aren’t real. So, if Harry Potter is not a real boy but rather the spawn of Rowling’s imagination, why doesn’t Rowling get to say what happens? She thought him up. Every single action of his has been controlled by her. Why doesn’t she get the final word on his career choice, even if she didn’t work it into the text?
Most authors, if asked that question, would have said “What do you think happens?” I’m sorry, but that’s a crap answer. I have several ideas on what happens, but it wasn’t my story to tell. I didn’t spend years laboring over these characters. You did. Answer the damn question.
What did I think happened? I thought Harry, who is rather wealthy and has only ever wanted a family, became a stay-at-home dad. Rowling says he became auror and completely revolutionized the department. I’m ok with that. I like that answer. And I think Rowling’s answer is more valid. She made him up. She killed him. She brought him back to life. She should get final word on his career path.
She wrote this story. She made these people up. She knows a hell of a lot more about them then even the biggest fan. Was I disappointed with the epilogue? Sure. It didn’t end with “He grows up and marries you.” Which, like Lisa Simpson, is what I wanted to hear. But, I will admit, that would have been a rather odd ending, as I’m already married. And Harry Potter isn’t real.
How do I feel about the story she’s still telling in the press? I love it. I love the extra information. She invented this world, she gets to embroider it. I love that Luna is a naturalist. I was curious as to why none of the kids we met at the end were named Fred. I’m glad to know that George was on top of that. I’m relieved to find out that, yes, Hermione successfully unmodified her parents’ memories, because it would have been too heartbreaking otherwise.
It’s Rowling’s world. Let her play in it.