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Fandom history question--MWPP as "The Marauders" - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Fandom history question--MWPP as "The Marauders"
I was just looking at a collection of fan essays on HP (the one edited by Galadriel Waters)--just breezing through--and I happened upon an opening to the section on the Marauders talking about whether or not they called themselves the Marauders and how it was never confirmed in the text (obviously, pre-HBP, since Ron refers to them as such), and it reminded me of a question: How did this end up a debate?

I don't mean, "Ugh, how stupid, couldn't people see?" It's true that I don't get the whole apostrophe debate, largely because I've shelved a whole series of books called "The Complete Idiot's Guide to..." and I know it doesn't mean there's just one idiot in the world, but the truth is, the text never has them refer to themselves as anything--including in HBP--and the title of the map could have just been a one-off joke referring to a specific adventure.

I'm just wondering, on a general interest level, what the nature of the debate was, as far as what it meant. Did people who thought they called themselves Marauders have one view of them, while people who thought they didn't do so have another? If so, what were the views, and why did each belief attach to them?

Poll #571639 The Marauder's Poll

When it comes to Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs, I...

...always believed they called themselves the Marauders
...never believed the called themselves the Marauders until JKR confirmed it.
...still don't believe they called themselves the Marauders.
...thought they may have jokingly made the reference a few times, but not that they really called themselves that.

I believed this because...

...it just seemed to technically be the right answer.
...it said something about the characters. (Please explain in comments.)
...it said something about the milieu. (Please explain in comments.)

47 comments or Leave a comment
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: September 16th, 2005 02:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
I always figured, and still think, that an adult (one of the Marauder mothers, perhaps, or a teacher) made the joke, and MWPP started using it. Or that it was some other inside joke. I don't think it was like in those teen books, where someone goes "let's name our group! The Marauders Club!"

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2005 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I see what you mean by that. I kind of doubt that they had official stationery made up, too. ;) Or that, like the Vigils in The Chocolate War or the Summer Suicide Society in A Separate Peace, they ever consciously named themselves. I just figured it was something they stumbled into and kept.
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: September 16th, 2005 02:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Really, I never thought about it much, and was unaware of the debate for a long time. I just assumed that was what they called themselves, perhaps not all the time or perhaps not around other people, but maybe. If I'd thought about it more, I would have thought it consistent with their characters. Mostly, I just found it an easy way to refer to all four at once without the awkwardness of saying MWPP--fine for typing, but difficult to say.
From: marciamarcia Date: September 16th, 2005 02:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
I never really thought about it much until people started debating this, because it seems like a corny nickname you might write down on a couple of things when you're trying to hide your identity/be intentionally melodramatic for comedic effect or have an ironic giggle over, but wouldn't ever use in serious conversation.

In fact, any fanfiction I've ever read where they were going around saying "We're the Mauraders!" in all earnestness came across as sort of lame. And we know these guys were considered cool and were image conscious. They wouldn't have been that lame. Although, I can possibly see Peter using the title un-ironically as part of hero worship, not-entirely successful attempt to blend in with his friends. And he probably would have been playfully teased by them for it, too.

Although it is a convenient categorizing word for fanfiction/theory archives.
alphabet26 From: alphabet26 Date: September 16th, 2005 03:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's my answer, too, for why I never thought they called themselves that. It just seemed awkward and, well, lame. Nicknames work. "Club names" not so much.
angua9 From: angua9 Date: September 16th, 2005 03:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Mine too! I thought they were too cool to call themselves such a dorky name. I thought the "Marauder's Map" was a map for someone in the act of marauding, not a map for someone who thought of himself as a Marauder all the time.
scarah2 From: scarah2 Date: September 16th, 2005 05:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, a map for a marauder. It's not the Marauders' Map, after all.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2005 05:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
I just don't get that argument--whether it's plural or singular, it still refers to someone calling himself "Marauder." It's a title, like The Single Girl's Guide to Shopping--which is presumably something written by a single girl for other single girls.
scarah2 From: scarah2 Date: September 16th, 2005 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Right, but a single girl reading the guide doesn't necessarily belong to a gang known as The Single Girls.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2005 05:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
She doesn't have to, but there's nothing about the formulation that would suggest that she doesn't. I mean, it could be replaced easily with "Mouseketeer" or "Shriner."
scarah2 From: scarah2 Date: September 16th, 2005 05:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh agreed. When Jo posted that on her site I wasn't like "She's omg wrong!" I just did not assume it previously.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2005 05:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, okay--the argument I've never understood is why it was somehow supposed to mitigate against it.
a_t_rain From: a_t_rain Date: September 16th, 2005 05:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's my answer, too, for why I never thought they called themselves that. It just seemed awkward and, well, lame. Nicknames work. "Club names" not so much.

Sure they do -- if you're an adult. But club names are what eleven- and twelve-year-old boys do.

My impression of what was actually at stake in the argument, BTW, is that it had nothing to do with the characters or the milieu, it was one of those more-fannish-than-thou debates. Those who liked to position themselves as Purists with a capital P insisted that they didn't call themselves the Marauders, in order to separate themselves from the great hordes of teenybopper fangirls who did, and I have to admit I was glad to see JKR herself give them one in the eye.
izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: September 16th, 2005 08:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Word, a_t_rain, word. My best friends and I were "the Sarahs" (of course, we were all named that, so the title was for good reason, but still). :-P

And if one is a boy of that age, I can't imagine not having a "club name." My brothers sure did that.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: September 17th, 2005 12:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, you do have to admit some of the fangirls got scary. ;) Thankfully, the days of turning the MWPP era into a teen soap in words are pretty much over.

I used to think it was just a name for the map, then changed my mind.

And that's interesting, but you're right. I didn't know many twelve year olds with names for their groups, but then, I wasn't exactly "in the know" at my middle school. (It was hard to be, as it was so large - plus, I wasn't overly social).
ella_menno From: ella_menno Date: September 16th, 2005 03:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
As I think about it, I realize there's a rather convoluted backstory stuck in my brain about the whole "Marauder" thing. I don't know if I invented it, or if I've read a story featuring that explanation, but here it is, in abbreviated form -

James and Sirius get caught (by McGonagall, though I don't know why) right smack in the middle of, um, liberating food from the kitchens. At her wit's end with them - because you just know they perpetually kept her at her wit's end - she bellows at them about "plundering from the very school that houses you." She assigns detentions, and shoos them back to Gryffindor Tower.

On the walk back, Sirius and James engage in a mock debate over what, precisely, the term for 'people who plunder' would be. "Plunderers" seems too easy, "pirates" too melodramatic. "Marauders," however, pleases both of them.

They enter the dorm, and with his typical flourish, Sirius announces that henceforth, their merry little band will be known as "The Marauders." Peter heartily agrees (after checking to make sure James likes the idea, too), and Remus just rolls his eyes, though privately he thinks it's amusing.

They use the term "Marauders" infrequently, and never in regards to their full-moon jaunts. It's more a reference to getting up to various minor hijinks around school. It is, however, the perfect title for the brilliant map they come up with later in their school days.

...Or else I put too much thought into these backstory things. /sheepish
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: September 17th, 2005 12:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
You know, I really like that backstory, to be honest. And very, very possible.
sunsethill From: sunsethill Date: September 16th, 2005 05:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I must admit I never really thought about it, mainly because for some odd reason I never really liked MWPP, long before Snape's Worst Memory. This is one reason I know JKR is such a fabulous writer, because somehow I knew that something was wrong all during the time everyone was going on about how cool MWPP were. Remus is the only one I have every really liked. So I never had a reason to need a name to refer to the four friends as a group. Marauders has such a negative connotation, I suppose I didn't believe they would have referred to themselves that way until JKR confirmed it.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2005 05:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
My impression of the male of the species is that they don't think of it as having especially negative connotations at that age... it's sort of like "pirate." Take the Empire SW trilogy--Han Solo is referred to as a pirate on numerous occasions and a smuggler and so on. And who's the hands-down favorite as a "cool" character? Piracy is seen as something that daring people who don't care about the rules do. They're all Jack Sparrow; none are Barbarossa. They're all the good, cool pirates who just swashbuckle all the time and save the fair maiden from a life of stifling conformity, paying for a lavish lifestyle by means that are never fully explained, but are not imagined to be murdering, raping, and stealing from perfectly decent people... as pirates actually do. By the same token, I think the boys hear "marauders" and think of causing mischief and mayhem and making the stuffy establishment look silly.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2005 05:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
(Come to think of it, I think it applies to the female of the species, too, though there's more socializing against it.)
sophonax From: sophonax Date: September 16th, 2005 06:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Excellent rantage :) The romanticizing of pirates has always really annoyed me--I guess it must be a sign that I'm completely boring that I always identified more with pirates' victims than the pirates themselves.

I still like Han Solo.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2005 07:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Han doesn't interest me much, but I don't, like, dislike him. I did use the pirate issue as part of why Vader really, really doesn't like him, though, as the novelizations suggest that Shmi was taken into slavery by pirates, and Anakin has severe issues with them, and thinks of them as the lowest of the low.

But I think in the case of the Marauders, we are dealing with a lot of romanticizing of, well, marauding. Which is very realistic for a bunch of kids that age.
(Deleted comment)
nutcrazical From: nutcrazical Date: September 17th, 2005 04:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Lupin is actually Half-Blood, I think.

I always assumed they called themselves the "Marauders". In fact, when I saw that question in the MuggleNet thingy, I thought, "um. Du'h." But I'll admit I never gave it much thought, as I never was very interested in the Marauders.
stephantom From: stephantom Date: September 16th, 2005 06:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
A few people have argued that they thought that the boys naming themselves as a group as too lame and dorky, but to be honest, it's a thing a lot of people do, and I don't even think it's that lame. I mean, it may be dorky, but in a fun we're-so-cool-we-admit-we're-dorks kinda way. And keep in mind, they were at Hogwarts from the time they were 11. They don't have to have named themselves when they were "cool 15 year olds."

Personally I like when groups name themselves. When Tolkein was a teenager, he and three of his friends formed a group that called themselves The Tea Club and Barrovian Society, and as an adult he and C.S. Lewis formed a group together that called themselves The Inklings. A fictional example that I like is The Dead Poets Society.

When I was in middle school, my friends and I called ourselves The Muffins (which just started because one of my friends called everyone "muffin").

And maybe it is sort of obnoxious, but it's sort of nice to tie a group of people together with something as concrete as a name. It creates such strong bonds (or maybe it's just that really strong bonds create names).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2005 07:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
When I was in middle school, my friends and I called ourselves The Muffins (which just started because one of my friends called everyone "muffin").

My friends had a name for our group as well, plus individual code names (mine was "Yolanda") and a symbol to doodle onto notebooks and school desks.
chienar From: chienar Date: September 17th, 2005 06:14 am (UTC) (Link)
I saw that! *giggles*
chocolatepot From: chocolatepot Date: September 16th, 2005 07:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
At first, I assumed that they referred to themselves as the Marauders. Then there was a big debate at the Quill about the apostraphe and whether it sounded stupid or not, and I decided they must not have called themselves the Marauders. And then Jo said it, and I was happy to go back to calling them the Marauders.

I don't think that it was a constant thing, but for little phrases to say when you're stuck in an unfair detention by yourself, or when you need to feel solidarity or are proud -- "We are the Marauders, and we hunt in a pack," sort of thing; "We are the Marauders, and we stick together." "Going Marauding" was probably said more often.
From: sleepingfingers Date: September 16th, 2005 08:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think they might have used the term "Marauders" to refer to themselves and/or their group, but not as frequently as some fanfics have it. I doubt that any of the four would go around, refering to themselves as "The Marauders", but it makes sense for it to be the name they use to call themselves within the group. It seems like something that they would do.
danel4d From: danel4d Date: September 16th, 2005 08:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I never really thought about it myself - most people tended to just automatically assume it was so, and some of the UberFen really got up in arms about it, just becuase they could, I guess. I think I'd compare it to the way some people in LotR can get frighteningly evangelical about there being only 9 members of the fellowship - it's a rule that annoying teenyboppers and bad writers of Mary Sues break a lot, so they tend to try to use it as evidence that someone is.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 16th, 2005 09:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, there is an official count to the Fellowship, which is a mirror of the number of riders, and they all have names and are accounted for... it's not quite the same thing. Adding another member to the Fellowship is a serious problem and it really means something. I was just having trouble figuring out why it was an issue one way or the other if MWPP were called Marauders.
danel4d From: danel4d Date: September 17th, 2005 04:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I know it's not the best example, but it was the first to spring to mind - a fairly minor issue, all things considered, but one adopted and taken up as a Very Big Thing for no reason. The number in the fellowship is actually canon, and does have some relevance to and influence on things, unlike the Marauder issue - but like that, some UberFen blow it up from the thing that Suethors do - tho, again, not a good point since plenty of sensible writers use the Marauders thing due to its unclearness and manifest irrelevance either way - to a massive thing worth huge rants. I;ve known some LotR UberFen cry real tears about the beautiful symbolism of there being nine people in the Fellowship.*
And with the whole apostrophe thing - some of the Suethors are probably older than MWPP were at the time they made it, so... at least its not the M'Raud's Map or ThE Meroders Mapp, or some of the other fun things that reports in babb_chronicles find. Hey, on which - have you seen the new issue - it's bursting with Pr0n.
*This is a lie. Or at least, an exaggeration.
victorialupin From: victorialupin Date: September 16th, 2005 09:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Until the title was confirmed, I always assumed that they refered to themselves as marauders, but that they weren't officially The Marauders. I thought that they really didn't have a title for their little group, and the map was named the Marauder's Map because it would be useful for marauders like themselves.
glitterdemon From: glitterdemon Date: September 16th, 2005 10:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
i don't believe they ever called themselves "the marauders" until jkr started reading too much fic. ;)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 17th, 2005 04:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Or maybe, the fic writers got it right... ;)
shannon_sue From: shannon_sue Date: September 16th, 2005 10:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

from the d_s

I believe that they called themselves that, mainly because, y'know, they called themselves that in PoA in the map. I still don't understand why people think it's not canon, but eh.

I also think that they consciously made the decision. Probably someone called them marauders or one of them a marauder, and they liked it so they decided to keep the title.

Some people might think that no one has group names outside of forts or whatnot, but I'm actually in a group like that! ;) We're all government freaks, and last year we were sophomores and in government class we read about caucuses--so since there are eight of us, and it gets a bit tiring to go through the list of names, I started calling us the Sophomore Caucus and it stuck--to the extent that the teachers call us that, and we give gifts at Christmas from "The Caucus". (We're not the Sophomore Caucus anymore because we're juniors now. ;)

So, yeah. That's more or less how I see the Marauder name coming about.
tiferet From: tiferet Date: September 16th, 2005 10:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
I always thought they called themselves that because it was clear from PoA on that they were exactly the sort of overly hormonal adolescent male who would think that was the height of awesomeness and that picking on a geek like Snape was cool, except for Remus.
ladysorka From: ladysorka Date: September 16th, 2005 11:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
The main reason I can see them doing it was because, hey, when I was 12, we did.

...we inexplicably called ourselves "Albania", but the principle is the same. Preteens are silly.
From: pilly2009 Date: September 16th, 2005 11:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've always seen them calling themselves "The Marauders" (though I completely missed where it was officially indicated that they had done so in HBP).

Titling themselves as the Marauders indicates a deeper sense of sentimentality on the parts of all the boys (because it sounds like the sort of dorky name that they would have come up with in the first-year, but even at sixteen, long after the name ceased to be "cool", they still kept it), but a lessening of their "coolness" aspect. Most of the work that's centric around this viewpoint seems to reflect a picture of the Marauders where image is slightly less important than sentimentality.
From: pilly2009 Date: September 16th, 2005 11:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sorry, incomplete argument!

I meant to address the contrasting opinion to mine -- the Marauders do sometimes come off as the sort of kids who would be more concerned with being "cool" than with being friends, and I guess this is where it might become weird to think of the group with a single title -- it's really not the sort of thing that teenage kids do anymore.
penny_sieve From: penny_sieve Date: September 17th, 2005 01:42 am (UTC) (Link)
I thought that they called themselves that. It probably started out as an inside joke, started either by Sirius or James and the group later adopted that name.

BTW, here via the dailt snitch, but i found your journal and your views fascinating, so hope you don;t mind that I've friended you.
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: September 17th, 2005 03:21 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm sure this is repitition, but I never thought they consciously named each other the Marauders. In the same whay, I always thought their individual names were probably off the top of someone's head.
isidore13 From: isidore13 Date: September 17th, 2005 05:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Specifically, it fit because James and Sirius likely thought of their group as exclusive, cool, etc., and decided it Needed a Name so that everyone would know they were excluded, and Marauders sounded cool.
ani_bester From: ani_bester Date: September 17th, 2005 05:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmmm, well I think it ended up being debated for kinda the reason you said in you own post.

There was a grammer error, whihc implied the map did not refer to a group of people, they enver actually called themselves that, no one called themselves that, and a lot of people felt it was lame for teenage boys to call themselves that.
People like me just assumed that we'd not seen any scene with them in whichc alling them the Marauders would be prudent, nor is it likely that many peopel outside of their group knew they called themselves that, so the fact that it hadn't come up in text was inconclusive (there reallyw asno answer to the grammer thing, until recently, where it was jsut a mistake) and well the last reason was actually why I thought it very likly they did call themselves that.

I think it showed a sense of fun and astreak of immaturity that went along with my view of a group of boys who want to change into animals so they can hang with a werewolf. Sirius in GoF just came off as exactly the kind of perosn who might come have no toruble using a nickname like that, and the name seperates them from others and make them into a more cohesive group. OT me, it just seemed logical and well, like something little boys and teenage boys would do.

I mean . . . there are groups of adult boys who organize themselves into Storm Trooper units/Star Trek crews/ whatever and give themselves names and what not.
It's not unheard of, or IMHO, that uncommon.

affectedmangoo From: affectedmangoo Date: September 17th, 2005 12:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know JKR confirmed that they used it in an interview, but was it post GoF or post Ootp?

I'd like to know the story around it though. *g*
From: lady__ash Date: September 18th, 2005 04:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
As a good kid i do what i have been asked to and leave a comment, although i think that everything has already been said.
I don`t believe that they called themselves Marauders often. From what i gathered in the Ootp pensive scene they were much more single characters and identifing themselves not over the group, but their own nicknames(exept for wormtail perhaps). They maybe have appeared as a tight knitted gang to other people( especially if they joined forces for lets say pranking snape), but even a occasional oberserver like Harry noticed that everyone was following his own agenda.
murgatroyd314 From: murgatroyd314 Date: September 23rd, 2005 06:28 am (UTC) (Link)
From the name of the map in PoA, I never once thought of it as the group's name for themselves, and when I got online and saw the fanfiction, I generally disliked those which used the term.

Now, after reading JKR's site, I still don't think it was their name for themselves. I get the distinct impression that they occasionally called themselves "marauders", but never "the Marauders".
47 comments or Leave a comment