Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Aunt Marge's Big Mistake

At breakfast on Harry's birthday Harry and the Dursley's see a news story about an escaped prisoner by the name of Black. Harry then finds out that Vernon's sister, "Aunt" Marge is coming to stay for a week and that he'll have to pretend to be "normal" and attend St. Brutus' something or other. Harry uses this to blackmail Uncle Vernon into signing his Hogsmeade permission slip (if Harry behaves himself). Marge shows up and is more horrible than Vernon, Petunia and Dudley, which is amazing. Eventually, she ticks Harry off so much that he accidentally turns her into a human balloon. While the rest of the family is distracted, Harry grabs his stuff. After a final exchange with Uncle Vernon, Harry heads off into the night...

While in some ways, this could be a good opportunity to talk about the Trace again, there will be better ones in the future, so just know that this is another chapter that makes my head hurt the the wacky Trace rules.

A few years ago, I ran a church book club where we talked about the theological and biblical implications of Harry Potter. I'm someone who likes to get both sides of an issue, so I read both pro-Potter books and anti-Potter books. The guy who wrote one of the anti-Potter books seemed not to have read the books at all. He had all kinds of specious arguments that were easily refutable by anyway with the reading comprehension level of an 8-year-old. For some reason, it was his arguments regarding this book that really stuck in my mind, and this chapter was one of the biggest. You see, the author had a big problem with all the cursing in the books. You know, like when it says "Ron cursed" and when they call people "gits", which he had to look up. His biggest problem though was with the word "bitch" in this chapter, when Aunt Marge says, "You see it all the time with dogs. If there's something wrong with the bitch, there'll be something wrong with the pup." This argument drove me mad! Apparently, he could take the time to look up the word "git" but not the time to look up the word "bitch" and see that it was being used correctly. He completely lost me at that point. If anything, I would argue that seeing the correct usage of a word that has been co-opted to be insulting and degrading is a positive thing for children, giving parents a wonderful chance to teach their children about words and context.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Have you ever read a "review" or critique of a book or movie and wondered if the author had actually read or watched what they were talking about?

1 comment:

  1. I haven't read much along the lines of pro- or anti- HP critiques, but I have had several discussions with people on both sides of the fence. The people whose arguments I respect the most are those that are really familiar with the other side's views so I think it's cool that you've done your research.

    And when I do read books where the author comes across as totally clueless, I mostly just want to throw the book across the room. It's rather frustrating not to be able to argue with an author.

    (Also, happened to notice your tag for this book say "Azkaben"... not sure if it's a clever nickname or a typo but I thought I'd point it out since I know you have a thing for details.)