Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Deathday Party

Due to Oliver Wood's obsession, Harry finds himself returning from Quiddich practice on rainy October morning, muddy and dripping. He runs into Nearly-Headless Nick who has once again been denied entrance to the Headless Hunt due to his, you know, nearly-headlessness. While they're talking, Filch comes across them and drags Harry into his office to punish him for the mess he's made. Before Filch can punish him though, Nick convinces Peeves to drop a Vanishing Cabinet over Filch's office, saving Harry from Filch's rage. As a thank you, Harry agrees to attend Nick's 500th Deathday Party. So Halloween finds Harry, Ron and Hermione heading down to the dungeon for the ghost's party instead of to the feast with the rest of the students. After brief conversations with various ghosts, including Moaning Myrtle and Nearly-Headless Nick, the trio heads upstairs, hoping to be able to at least get dessert, but before they can get upstairs, Harry hears a disembodied voice threatening to kill. They follow it to the second floor and find Mrs. Norris hanging stiffly from a torch bracket under the words "THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS HAS BEEN OPENED. ENEMIES OF THE HEIR BEWARE". Before they can leave the area, the feast finishes and the rest of the school converges on the hall.

I have to admit that I knew what I was going to write about today before I even started reading this chapter, it's something that's bothered me for years. I'm definitely going to get to that, but I had another random thought while reading that I wanted to share first as well as quickly acknowledge that this is where the Vanishing Cabinet gets broken. (Consider it acknowledged!)

Why is Filch the one who's cleaning up the mud and guts? What is his job description? He's caretaker, I know, but in other things I've read caretaker is either making sure an empty house doesn't go to pot or making some minor repairs and overseeing servants. I mean, there are house-elves around who could clean up this stuff with a snap of their fingers, what's the point of Filch doing it? And if its one of those micro-managey I'll-do-it-myself kind of things, does he really have a right to get all pissy about how long it's going to take him to clean it? (That was the random thought, I'm really interested to hear what others have to say about this).

Okay, onto the thing that's been bugging me for years. In Order of the Phoenix, Sir Nicholas tells Harry that wizards become ghosts when they're afraid of what's out there. It's a choice that, by my understanding, is made consciously. It therefore really bugs me that at the Deathday Party the trio sees "a group of nuns" in addition to the Fat Friar. Without getting into personal beliefs about what might come after death, I wonder why so many people who had taken the veil/whatever monks take would fear what was to come. What is the point of taking vows of chastity, poverty and charity if you're too scared to find out if it was worth it? I mean, I'm sorry, but if you're going to become a ghost and refuse to "move on" regardless of where that might be, than you may as well have a little fun in life! (I'm also intrigued by the very idea of witches and wizards choosing such a vocation in the first place. Are their wizarding sects of Catholicism/Anglicism?) Again, I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below!

Oh, one more random thought I almost forgot: Sir Nicholas is described (and portrayed in the film) as wearing a neck ruff, but he died in 1492 and ruffs didn't become standard/popular until the middle of the 16th century. Did Sir Nicholas somehow acquire the ruff after his death or was he just really fashion forward when he was alive?


  1. I think this might be an example of Rowling forgetting this part when she wrote Order of the Phoenix which, in light of the vanishing cabinet, is a little ridiculous. Alternatively, maybe the Fat Friar and his group of nuns were not religious people at all. I can't remember if we ever hear his back story, but perhaps they all died at a costume party? ;)

    And I never would have caught the detail about the neck ruff. I vote for Sir Nick being the trendsetter. He seems like a pretty stylish dude.

  2. Ahh, so maybe there was some sort of horrible accident at a tarts and vicars party. I like it. :)