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Ravenclaw Giles- by _extraflamey_

In honor of the upcoming release of The Half-Blood Prince...

... I would like to dip a tentative toe into HP fandom and ask the following discussion question of certain members of my f-list:

Why Slytherin? Why Draco?

As someone who really isn't a fan of Draco or the Slytherin children en masse, I have my own thoughts on the subject, but I would like to hear from you. Let's get a real discussion going if we can.


so you have to wonder how they managed to ever catch any wizards at all

Darn it, I hate it when logic gets in the way of my theories. That's a darn good question. Worse, I'm gonna have to think of answer for my fanfic 'cause I've got that in a coming chapter.

You're right, the social structure in the wizarding world is really interesting but not touched on very much. Why is dark magic so hated yet can have an entire alley devoted to it in a school town? Why is the servitude of magical creatures okay? It's like it works on the surface but look too closely and there are obvious places where what we're told just doesn't match up.
Well, I answer it for you: magic prior to the Burning Times was largely uncodified and unstudied. The Burning Times struck a match--literally-- for a need to find, identify and train all those with wizardly power in how to defend themselves in safe hideaways before precocious showoff pre-teens could get an entire community found out. The Ministry of Magic, and it's related laws (no magic outside of school, no magic in front of muggles, blah blah) are the natural outgrowth of the need to keep safe.

As time went on, naturally wizards saw less and less reason to leave their-- dare I say-- wizardly ghettos and interact with the outside world, leaving muggles to their own devices. And so they are now like an extreme version of the Hassidic or Amish, completely incapable of functioning outside their own communities.

Now, I find that interesting, and I think JKR does too, in her own way. She just wants to spend more time on uninteresting crap like who Harry is dating.

My answers: because Dark Magic is still essentially needed, should muggles ever discover and attack wizards en masse again. And the servitude of magical creatures is okay because the wizarding world really hasn't progressed much beyond the 15th century. Someone should slip the poor souls a copy of Voltaire.
So pre-Burning Times, magic was likely more of a parent-to-child or master-to-apprentice thing, not the bureaucratic mess it is now. The downside is that some magic becomes taboo and kept in the dark like a dirty secret, but a useful secret. The upside is that no one goes up in flames anymore.

I was just about to make the Jewish ghetto connection and you beat me to it. Could it be that the books are actually advocating the idea that a group of people should go out of their way to avoid those not like themselves, and that this separation is good and proper? The wizarding world could then be considered almost like Death Eaters in their philosophy, except for the whole killing muggles thing. Of course they have a good reason to withdraw, but still, it remains that they are withdrawn and setting themselves up as outcasts.

I've got a little notion in my head that house elves might not be slaves per se, but might rather have a symbiotic relationship with wizards. I'm not entirely sure how that would work because we don't have much info on elf society and elves in the wild (do they have their own communities or are they feral?), but it would help explain how generally sensitive wizards could accept house elves while muggle borns, not being indoctrinated into this culture, would see it as slavery.
I'd say the real downside is that without a code, rules, then you're open to your neighbor noticing that you're not really subsisting hand to mouth, like they are, and that your cows are never sick. Which breeds jealousy, and as Yoda says, fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering!

Unfortunately, I think whatever JKR means by that is muddled and confused. Just like any other moral judgement she tries to make in these stories. I almost want to tell her that she's a very nice person, and a very good teller of fluff and Hero's Journey, but that she should leave the Big Questions to people better equipped to handle them. (Say what you will about Phillip Pullman, and I can say plenty, but the moral intent behind His Dark Materials is crystal clear.)

Maybe I'm wrong. I haven't read 4 or 5, because I wasn't that enthralled with the first three. I keep up with the gist, but I don't care. And she still has two books to pull it all out of her hat and make it work.

Isn't there a bit where Voldie is actually a half-blood himself? Tom Riddle? For some reason I had that impression, which makes me think that much of the story has to do with it, and that only the full blooded wizard raised by mortals: Harry, can really start finding a way to solve that rift. Which, you know, makes sense considering the other two protagonists: the poor Ron, with his family that skirts closer to the muggle world than most, and Hermione, who has muggle parents.
I guess it would be weird to see a family at that time that not only had only two or three kids but who all lived to adulthood.

Yup, the dark lord's father was a muggle who left his mother. I forget what happened, but Voldemort was stuck in an orphanage, essentially mirroring Harry's lousy childhood. And Harry's not actually fullblooded, from what I understand. His mother was half-blood, too.

Rowling's writing improves a bit as the series goes on (my God, the first book nearly killed me when it broke the fairy tale rule of threes and it took multiple attempts to get the letters to Harry). I'm interested to see what she does in the next two books, but I'm not holding my breath on Big Issue topics. I think there's definitely a reason why all those Harry Potter universe explications books came out, the bestiary, how the school works, stuff like that.

What's funny is that the Weasleys, for being as close to muggles as they are, don't really know what muggles are like. Arthur has the ministry job dealing with them but he gets the most basic things wrong. It's like they're not even trying.
What's funny is that the Weasleys, for being as close to muggles as they are, don't really know what muggles are like. Arthur has the ministry job dealing with them but he gets the most basic things wrong. It's like they're not even trying.

Well, yeah. She plays it as dry comedy, but I find it tragic-- that the member of the secret society responsible in part for collecting information on the outside world to keep said society safe has no idea what he's doing.

Which is why, I suspect, the few HP fics I have enjoyed were the ones where magic is utterly destroyed in the war and what remains of the wizarding world is thrown into the big wide sea of what we call reality.
I can totally see a seventh book being where magic and reality start mixing until the two worlds kind of leak into each other and everyone's kind of left hanging.

It's a bummer remembering that this is a kid's book, and it's sad 'cause there are other kids books that remain awesome into adulthood, deepening with more and more thought, while this series just seems to clam up the more you look at it.

Ah well. We'll always have fanfiction.