Saturday, June 25, 2011

Why Harry Potter would've failed

In an imaginary world where jelly beans taste like boogers and people actually sit still to watch a stupid game where all the players are flying around on brooms, there is one conceit that stretches credulity to its breaking point: the friendship between Harry and Ron. In real life, Ron would've turned on Harry after the 3rd book or so, and not for the reason you think.

In the books, the rift between Harry and Ron begins to develop because Harry has a crush on Ron's sister, Ginny. Fiction loves to pretend that men care so deeply about preserving their sisters' purity they'll kill their best friend if he makes a move on her (see Scarface for a particularly asinine example). This is old-fashioned, out-of-date thinking, though it would definitely alter the relationship permanently.

The real reason Harry and Ron's friendship is the most unrealistic part of the fantastical Hogwarts saga is this: No guy stays best friends with the same dude from ages 12 through 21 (or however old they are when the story finishes). There's a simple reason for this: One guy always matures faster. When you have that growth spurt and start realizing how much fun it is to try to get girls to sleep with you, you can't be seen hanging out with the dude who still looks prepubescent. In real life, Ron's voice would've dropped first, and he'd be picking on mudbloods with Draco Malfoy in no time. He'd probably pull down Harry's pants in front of all the girls and laugh as Crabbe and Goyle dumped him upside down in a trash can.

Then, since Harry still hasn't hit puberty, he'd have to go make friends with the lowliest social class: other kids who haven't sprouted yet, or kids even younger. He'd probably still have Hermione as a friend, since nobody likes her anyway, but they'd be joined by scrubs like Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood: the weird and pathetic.

But Harry would still grow up eventually. And when he did, his quest would not be to stop the Dark Lord or whatever, it would be pure and simple revenge. He'd probably still date Ron's sister (specifically to break her heart), but he'd be training and honing his skills simply out of hatred for all Weasleys. Voldemort? Who cares? Killing a guy's parents is one thing, but the wounds suffered from social humiliation in adolescence burn longer and deeper.

So the final chapter would be all about how the Death Eaters come back into power, and Harry's one of them, and he kills Ron while Snape nods in silent approval, his transformation into the new Dark Lord complete. I mean, what teenager has the ability to see beyond his own selfish perspective? Fight evil, save the muggles? No. I see him taking the easy way out 9 times out of 10. If you disagree with me, you, like J.K. Rowling, have never been a teenage boy.


Wendy McMillan said...

This is funny because I know what happened to you as you transformed from a prepubescent to a teenager. I can't speak for the books, not having moved past book 1, but in cases like these I have to remind myself that these kids are British and therefore tend to be weird and clingy with their same-sex friends. Remember Sam and Frodo. Yeah. Yeaaaaaah.

Austin said...

I disagree with you, however unlike JK Rowling, I have been a teenage boy.

While puberty is one thing, a true friend is quite another. While we are in separate places, I'm still quite good friends with people I've known since I was 6, and we don't even have owls to keep in touch. Though we do have Facebook.

Following your mode of thinking however, I would think Harry would mature much faster than Ron. Having to face your own mortality at a young age which Harry did (and something I know more than a little about) can have a great effect on your maturity and impact your life. You feel older and different than those around you. While they are more concerned with their grades or getting dates rather than wondering if they will be alive in a month.

This doesn't so much have an affect on separating you from your friends, but it makes you tighter. Ron and Hermione became Harry's rock, while he was busy fighting Basilisks and traveling through time in a ludicrous manner and avoiding blast ended skrewts and everything else, they kept him sane, kept him young, and simply kept him.

I know I'm talking about psychology of fictional characters but one: you brought it up and two: it's just a testament of JK Rowling's skill as an author that we can discuss the logic of boys growing up and how they would or would not stay friends.

Jacob I. McMillan said...

Austin, I could buy that Hermione is his rock (and possibly his soulmate, at the risk of getting all shipper-riffic on you), but not Ron. In fact, I'd argue that the central conflict of the Harry Potter stories is not between Harry and Voldemort (who's barely in them), but between Harry and Ron. Throughout the books, they clash over everything. The arc of the last book is not how they will find the horcruxes (classic Macguffins if there ever were any), but how Harry will repair his broken friendship with him.

Let's not forget Ron is insanely jealous of Harry at every turn, for the attention he gets and the fact that he is the most famous kid in Hogwarts. Ron is just another Weasley, an unassuming, non-threatening personality overshadowed by his cooler older brothers, and fully aware of his sidekick status. When you factor in Harry's superiority in magic (showing off skills like Parseltongue with no prior training), would you blame Ron for being a little bitter?

Maybe their friendship meant more because they had survived life-threatening experiences, but those were all situations Ron never would've been in if it hadn't been for Harry. I seem to remember him saying "You almost get me killed every year" or something. Either way, it would seem that they're not sticking together because they have an amazing friendship, it's more because they know it increases their chances of survival.

And last, I still believe Ron would mature faster simply because it seems to be a Weasley family trait. Ginny goes from like a foot shorter to a foot taller than Harry between movies, and I'm positive it was on purpose.

Austin said...
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Austin said...

Again, I respectfully disagree. First, I don't think height = maturity. I'm not saying that you think that either, but it does appear to be a large part of your argument.

Also, I think you may be getting the movies mixed up with the books. A ginger growing a foot taller isn't as easy to hide on film than it is in a book.

As you stated, Ron argued with Harry and very much felt stuck in Harry's shadow. The fact that he complained about it and was bitter about it doesn't show increased maturity, rather I think it shows decreased maturity, so the point of Ron maturing faster than Harry may need to be reconsidered.

And maybe he stuck with Harry not to be his sidekick or supporter, or even because it upped his survival chance (it's better to be next to the target than the target I suppose) but he stuck with Harry because he was as stated in the books, a git, and only Harry and Hermione would stay with him.