First, the spoiler-free tidbit: while being interviewed by Meredith Vieira, Rowling began to talk tentatively about her religious beliefs. But she got no further than saying that her beliefs about death and the afterlife, and her struggle to believe, are imprinted all over Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—then Vieira whisked her away to the next, much less interesting question. I wanted to hear about her struggles to believe, because that’s something I can respect. If she’s struggling, then she’s not merely accepting a bland, watered-down version of Christianity. Not that her professions one way or the other necessarily affect how I read her books (she has previously stated that she’s a Christian), but I am curious about her faith-struggles, as they probably reveal her deepest values.
Okay, now for the spoiler-ish material. SPOILERS! (Fortunately, I can’t accompany them with the annoying little dllllling! that prefaced the spoilers on Dateline.)
Most significant: Rowling revealed the entirety of the original last line of the book, which was going to be something along the lines of “Only those whom he loved could still see his lightning scar.” (Remember hearing her say how the last word of the book was going to be “scar”? Well, there it is in context.) Argh! Why didn’t she keep it that way? That’s so much better than “All was well.” Nothing is ever completely well, not on this earth. Rowling said in the interview that she changed the line because she wanted to emphasize that, for Harry, the battle was over. I think we could have picked up on that on our own . . . Of course, I’m fascinated by Harry’s scar in the last few chapters and how it is and isn’t like the scars of Jesus’ wounds. When Harry is in King’s Cross (whack! whack! goes the symbolism) Station, in a sort of afterlife-limbo, his scar is gone. Unlike Jesus, Harry’s “glorified” body does not include the signs of his sacrifice. After his “resurrection,” however, the scar is back. I like the original last line because, while Jesus’ friends (well, at least Thomas) only recognized him by his scars, it’s only Harry’s friends who truly see his scar, and thus, him. It kind of dances around the Christ-figure stuff, while still remaining distinct (as it should).
Also interesting: Rowling’s pre-publication comments that one character who was going to die had received a reprieve, and two more characters had died instead, led me to believe that all three of these deaths or not-deaths occurred within Deathly Hallows. Nope. It was Mr. Weasley who was saved from the chopping block, and that was back in Order of the Phoenix, when he ended up almost dying. Rowling said that, given the lack of good father figures in the books, she couldn’t bring herself to kill the best father among her characters. Of course, so much in the Harry Potter books revolves around parentage. As soon as Lupin asked Harry to be godfather to baby Teddy, I knew that both he and Tonks were doomed. Rowling does like symmetry, and it was obvious that Teddy was destined to be a parallel to Harry (though growing up in a happier time). Interestingly, given that he is presumably raised by his grandmother, he could also be a kind of parallel to Neville.
To others who watched the Dateline interview: what struck you as most memorable?
4 comments July 30th, 2007