The Problem of Peter Pevensie and The Problem of Wands

Thu 17 October 2019

(my comment on the discussion under “Summer Vacation” by Forrest_of_Holly)

I have rather complicated history with the Deathly Hallows. I have bought the book six hours after it was published (no I couldn’t bother myself to get up at midnight) while on the work-related conference in Birmingham (I am a Czech from Prague otherwise), read it over-night, so I flew home rather blurry, and I thought that it is the best book of the series. Longer I think about that (and longer I participate in the discussions about it on the Internet), more I am discouraged. It seems to me that Horcruxes, whole camping area, and the finale is very much under-thought plotcruch and that the whole book is just thinly covered one large plothole. Certainly, whole idea about the transfer of ownership of wands seems to me more like deus ex machina than anything else.

Of course, Ms Rowling has to struggle with the bane of all children/young-adult books, which I called The Problem of Peter Pevensie. In the finale of the first book from The Chronicles of Narnia series, we should believe that thirteen year old (magically slightly grown older) boy defeated in the fair battle the mightiest of all witches of the superhuman size. It is barely possible to do it in the book, where the suspense of unbelief is more simple, but when they tried to make a film from the Narnia Chronicles, the result is a pure disaster: thirteen year old boy fighting adult warrioress just looks ridiculous, whatever film magic you apply (similarly, it turned impossible to make a good film Aslan … whatever they tried he looks still like a overgrown plush toy).

The same problem applies to the Harry Potter series: we need to believe that a seventeen year old boy (with substandard training in the magical defence) beat adult superwizard who has otherwise no adversary equal to him (and whom we seen in the end of the sixth volume battle with Albus Dumbledore in show of incomparable strength). The only way how to get around it and not finish completely ridiculous is to arrange some trick (or make it a group battle with Harry’s allies on his side … e.g., the finale of “Escape by SingularOddities”). However, if you consider the subtle net of intrigues and stratagems which all must to fall in proper places for whole thing to work and Harry survive, it is absolutely crazy to consider that as a reasonable war plan. If this was the best Albus Dumbledore came up with, then his strategical thinking was not very impressive. So, that’s my opinion on the seventh book of the series. (and don’t let me start on films: day after the last battle, when still plenty of dangerous criminals are running through the land, the main hero and the primary target of any possible assassination is effectively wandless, because he didn’t repair his original wand, and broke The Elder Wand).

It is remarkable how Harry Potter in the whole series, even to its end and to the defeat of Tom Riddle, IS NOT a superhero á la Marvel films. In the last chapter (before Epilogue) of DH, he is probably a way more battered and more experienced but still distinctively seventeen-year old teenager, not even a graduate of Hogwarts, who overcomes the evil mostly just by using weird semi-legal tricks and technicalities. There is no doubt in my mind that if he had to meet Voldemort in the fair head-to-head battle á la the duel between Voldemort and Dumbledore in the Department of Mysteries, he would end up (as somebody called it) like Sackville-Baggins of Hardbottle facing a barlog.

Now technically (using only arguments from the inside of HP universe) to the problem of wands. Obviously, any disarming cannot lead to the change of ownership of a wand, that would be crazy. “The Wheel Is Come Full Circle by White_Squirrel” came with the limit, that there must be an intent of the winner of the duel to use the acquired wand as his own, not only to disarm your opponent. That actually works in the Deathly Hallows situation (more or less, it doesn’t explain very well how Draco Malfoy became owner of the Wand of Destiny in the first place, but both Harry in the Malfoy Manor, Dumbledore in the duel with Grindewald, and Grindewald stealing the wand from Grigorovitch work), and it can limit the potential misuse of the rule in the normal magical life. Another alternative is to limit this ownership exchange theory just to the Elder Wand (or any possible special super-wands) and all other wands just follow the Ollivander’s mantra of “wand choosing her master” and make wand transfer effectively impossible (meaning, every wand works somehow for every wizard/witch, but the ones which haven’t chosen their owner, work very poorly; but that doesn’t explain how Hermione battled successfully against Bellatrix Lestrange using her own wand, which she did not acquire in the duel with her). It is just a mess.

Category: faith Tagged: review harryPotter blogComment