Sunday, May 13, 2012

Harry Potter and The Importance of Halloween

Hey Zombies!  Here's a repost of an excellent article by Justin.  Enjoy...
The importance of Halloween throughout the Harry Potter Series is subtle yet undeniable. You’re like, “but J-Egg Beater, I’ve never noticed anything that suggested Halloween was any more important than any other holiday!” Well you’re in for a treat, not a trick, my friends.

1. Halloween was the night that Voldemort killed James and Lily Potter and attempted to kill Harry; he failed and lost his powers, thus, the first wizarding war came to a close.
2. During the Sorcerer’s Stone, Halloween is the night that Quirrell lets the troll into the dungeon; this provides the premise for the first book. How? This event incites Harry’s (wrongful, yet warranted) suspicion of Snape and, as a result, sets him on the trail to discover what was being hidden in Hogwarts.
3. The Chamber of Secrets? The first Basilisk attack was on the night of Halloween; Mrs. Norris, Filch’s cat, was the victim. Again, this event sets the entire plot for the second book in motion.
4. Surely there isn’t anything that important in the third book, Prisoner of Azkaban! You’re wrong. Stop doubting me and get out of my face. Halloween is the date of the first Hogsmeade trip for third year students; since Harry can’t go, he stays behind and develops his close bond with Professor (werewolf, and all-around-badass) Remus J. Lupin. Furthermore, this is the night that Godfather, handsome-loyal-genius-Azkaban-escapee, and all-around-badass, Sirius Black attacks the Fat Lady’s portrait in an attempt to get into Gryffindor Tower.
5. Goblet of Fire time: The foreign students from the competing schools arrive the day before Halloween. What happens on Halloween? Harry’s name (along with Krum’s, Cedric’s, and Fleur’s) comes out of the Goblet of Fire. AGAIN this event sets the entire plot in motion. If Harry’s name doesn’t come out of the Goblet, then he doesn’t participate in the Tri-wizard tournament and there is no 4th book.
6. Book 5? The Order of the Phoenix? Honestly not much is going on around Halloween. I wish I could say otherwise. One could make an argument that the first official meeting of Dumbledore’s Army took place on or around Halloween, but it would be one weak argument. Chapter 18 ends with the First official meeting of the DA in the room of requirement, and chapter 19 marks the end of October. However, in the beginning of chapter 19, the narrator states that “Harry felt as though he were carrying some kind of talisman inside his chest over the following two weeks.” This would indicate that the DA meeting took place somewhere around the 15th of October and 2 weeks were skipped; this leads us to Halloween, but the only event that takes place during this stretch of time before the end of October is quidditch practice.
This is where it gets tricky. See, the series progressively gets darker and more complex; Halloween simply isn’t mentioned anymore. I guess Rowling doesn’t think it’s necessary? Don’t bullshit me. So many significant events occur on Halloween; just because she stops mentioning it doesn’t mean we can’t figure it out ourselves. Stick with me, cause this might get sloppy.
7. While Rowling doesn’t mention Halloween, we still know what happens in that general time frame. Watch this.
I’m quoting this material directly from the Half-Blood Prince.
a. “Halfway through October came their first trip of the term to Hogsmeade.”
Let’s assume that this means it is October 15th.  Now I will list the events between this Hogsmeade trip and the Slytherin vs. Gryffindor Quidditch game which takes place on November 1st.
b. Harry’s second meeting, the Monday after the Hogsmeade weekend trip, with Dumbledore in which he learns about Tom and the orphanage (We can now assume that, if Hogsmeade was Saturday the 15th, the meeting on Monday takes place on the 17th).
c. Herbology class, Tuesday, the morning after the Monday meeting. During Herbology, more sexual tension arises between Ron and Hermione. After this, “Harry watched his two friends more closely over the next few days” (We can assume this takes place on October 18th; the “over the next few days” line implies that 3 or more days have gone by. Let’s say that it is now October 22nd).
d. The next event? Harry invites dean, to join the quidditch team because Katie bell is still in St. Mungo’s. The narrator states that this happens “one day.” The narrator does not say “the next day,” so let’s just assume it was 2 days after the 22nd, which would make it the 24th now.
e. Harry and Ron see Ginny “snogging” (making out with) Dean Thomas in Public; the narrator then informs us that “Ron’s new aggression did not wear off over the next few days.” ‘The next few days’ implies again that it has been at least 3 days. We can now assume it is at least the 28th.

But do we know exactly how many days Rowling meant when she wrote “over the next few days.” Could have been 4 days each time, right? We also don’t know that Rowling meant the 15th when she said “halfway through October.” Either way, we can all agree that it is the end of October, whether it is Halloween or just a day or two before. Also, it’s no coincidence that one night after the last event and one night before the quidditch game, Harry realizes that he has legitimate romantic feelings for Ginny. The woman he spends the rest of his life with? Pretty important. No coincidence that it takes place on what we could possibly surmise is Halloween; if it’s not Halloween, it’s damn close and I get points for the research.

8.  Deathly Hallows is just as tricky, if not trickier. IF you’ve stuck with me until now, thanks. If you haven’t, I respect your decision. But go to hell.
So remember Deathly Hallows, or DH, as I will refer to it as. Harry, Ron, and Hermione break into the Ministry of Magic on September 2nd. They escape with the horcrux locket and spend quite some time in Perkins’ tent; but we forget that it is fall J
The three fugitives are in hiding. They spend a fair amount of time trying to adjust to living on the run and go through generic experiences such as foraging for food. They eventually start sharing the amounts of time they wear the horcrux. Time passes
a. After these experiences, the narrator states, “As the days stretched into weeks, Harry began to suspect that Ron and Hermione were having conversations without, and about, him.” Considering that they have been there for a few days and the use of the plural “weeks,” we can now safely assume that it has been at least 3 weeks and is late September, let’s say the 26th.
b. Days later, the narrator gives yet another hint that time is elapsing faster than we think: “Autumn rolled over the countryside as they moved through it. They were now pitching the tent on mulches of fallen leaves.”
Autumn is generally considered to be between the beginning of September and the middle-ish (maybe towards the end?) of November. It is my belief that the next event occurs on Halloween.

c.  Ron leaves. This is a major event and turning point in the relationships that make up the erotic triangle that includes Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
Why do I think this happens on Halloween? I very much doubt that Rowling would skip more than a month with nothing happening; if it is the end of September and we later learn that Autumn is “[rolling] over the countryside,” we can probably assume we are in the heart of Autumn, which would mean its mid-late October.

To confirm this theory, we should examine the occurrences between this moment and Christmas Eve. We can do that.

d. Harry and Hermione depart and travel to several different locations.
e. “They did not discuss Ron at all over the next few days.”
f. “They were spending many evenings in near silence and Hermione took to bringing out Phineas Nigellus’s portrait and propping it up in a chair, as though he might fill part of the gaping hole left by Ron’s departure.”
g. “The weather grew colder and colder.”
h. “They had already spotted Christmas Trees.”
i. “It was therefore a full week later – once they had surreptitiously obtained hairs from innocent Muggles who were Christmas shopping, and had practiced Apparating and Disapparating while underneath the Invisibility Cloak together – that Hermione agreed to make the journey.”
j. They learn that it is Christmas Eve upon their arrival at Godric’s Hollow.

Points D-J seem like they could fill up close to two months don’t they? Different locations for days, silence for more days, silence for many evenings, weather getting colder, spotting x-mas trees, week later they decide to go to Godric’s Hollow?

While there is no way to tell for sure, it seems highly probable, considering the importance that Halloween carries in books 1-5, that it carries the same significance in books 6 and 7. There is no hard evidence, but drawing up a sort of time line like I have done above for HBP and DH provides us with a time-frame within which we can attempt to estimate and make somewhat accurate assumptions about the dates on which these major events occur. 

As the evidence from the first 4 books suggests, and the assumptions we can make about Halloween in books 6 and 7, we can infer that Halloween consistently holds more importance than any other day throughout the series.

1 comment:

  1. cool! I mean the first four books everyone knew about but awesome job with the last three!