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Thoughts on the JKR interview - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Thoughts on the JKR interview
Well, I've been running around like a chicken with its head cut off, and I only just now got around to reading the info from the JKR interview. Of course, I must comment, even though I'm significantly behind the curve.


Like everyone else, it's the comment that two characters will die who she hadn't expected to die, while one she expected to die got a reprieve. She followed this up by saying that the final chapter now has "minor edits."

I think there are certain classes of character who are "immune" from the changes because of the comment that the changes were minor, and that they were, in fact, changes. That's not saying whether any of the "immune" live or die, just that they aren't likely to be the ones who changed.

The first category of immunes would be the major characters--Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, Snape, Voldemort. Those are people whose fates would have been most covered in the original epilogue, and changes in whether they live or die would be major changes, not minor ones. If Dumbledore comes back to life as a jester in Queen Hermione's court, we can safely assume that wasn't one of these changes. It would be weird, but it would definitely not qualify as "minor" change from Dumbledore remaining dead. Ginny is not as major a character, but she was set up as important to Harry, and therefore was most likely covered.

The second category would be the extremely minor characters--Lavender Brown, Parvati and Padma, Aunt Marge, Stan Shunpike, Oliver Wood, etc. These probably appeared in JKR's head as she wrote, and weren't in the mythical epilogue.

The third category would be latecomers who don't really have a series-wide arc, for the same reason. I'd count out anyone who was introduced after the mid-point--Tonks, Kingsley, Slughorn, Luna, Greyback, and so on. They may introduce a few minor edits of their own in introducing them into the epilogue, but their fates probably weren't there in the first place to have "minor changes" made to it.

There are others like Uncle Vernon who were always there, but probably don't have enough weight (ha-ha) to account for major changs in their arcs.

That leaves a pretty small group of characters who were there from the beginning (or close to the beginning) and would have had their fates mentioned--most likely briefly--in the epilogue. Remus Lupin, Minerva McGonagall, Draco Malfoy, Neville Longbottom, Petunia Dursley, the Weasleys other than Ron and Ginny, Viktor, Fleur. I'm probably forgetting a few.

Candidates for a reprieve
For this, I'm trying to think of characters who had a likely death arc, but have had their arcs change direction.

Remus Lupin. Remus is the most obvious choice. When he was introduced, it was in the context of the dying past generation, and he was surrounded by death. He had no apparent future. Two of the other Marauders are dead. Harry's protectors die. But Remus was pulled back from his position as one of Harry's protectors and put on a level with a friend, and he was given a love interest, which connects him with a symbolic future. It's quite possible that in the original epilogue, there was a line like, "They visited Lupin's grave together," which could be changed with a minor edit like, "They visited Lupin and Tonks together."

Neville Longbottom. Neville started his career as a semi-hero by standing up to Harry, Ron, and Hermione and getting petrified for his troubles. He developed into a tragic character. But in OotP, he began to develop his skills and became less of a bumbler. In HBP, he's developed a friendship with the new character Luna, which, though not a romance, is a secure base for him. A reference to poor, lost Neville could easily be changed with a minor edit to a reference to Neville just moving away.

Percy Weasley. For the opposite reason, Percy may have gotten a reprieve. He started out on a kind of annoying-but-good track, but over the last two books has gotten increasingly odious. His death wouldn't tug enough heartstrings, and therefore might have been pulled out.

Charlie Weasley. On an oddball reason, I think that maybe Charlie was originally supposed to have bigger role than he ended up having--he was mentioned repeatedly in PS/SS, and I get the impression he was supposed to be Ron's favorite brother. Excellent choice for a death--affects the characters a lot, but doesn't necessarily kill the reader. But Charlie didn't end up playing much of a part, and it would be hard to sell a lot of grief for him.


Characters who may have unexpectedly passed away
Neville Longbottom. Yeah, I have him on both possible lists. He may have originally been meant to play a large part in the action, but because he slipped into the background, he becomes a loved character whose death could mobilize the others.

Minerva McGonagall. She was set up to take over for Dumbledore, and was largely seen in terms of her functionality. In the past two books, she's been active and vital, and has proved herself as one of Harry's protectors, at least in his battle with Umbridge. She's a minor enough character that JKR might have originally just mentioned that she was now Headmistress of Hogwarts, but now mentions that she is dead and someone else is in charge of the school.

Draco Malfoy. Up until book 6, Draco was a one-dimensional jerk on a path to becoming a Death Eater. It's quite possible that his original fate was put down as "Draco Malfoy was rotting in Azkaban." But as of book 6, Draco's family relationships and conflicts are introduced, and he's put into a delicate moral position that could well lead to his death, and the single line about Azkaban could be changed to a single line about not judging too quickly.

A Weasley other than Percy. As many people have pointed out, Molly's boggart is definitely setting up someone, and there are too many Weasleys to have everyone get th rough it open. If Percy got a reprieve, it's possible that one of the other brothers took over the role of Weasley martyr. Bill would be my first guess, though if there were two unexpected deaths, it's possible that it's the twins.

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Comments
charmling From: charmling Date: July 2nd, 2006 02:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I thought it could be the twins, too... but running_shadow pointed out this bit of the interview.

JK: But I have to say two die that I didn’t intend to die.
R: But you did tell him [Neil, her husband] which ones were up for the chop. Apparently he shuddered and said, "Oh no, not that one."
JK: He did on one of them, yeah.


If it were both the twins, he wouldn't have just shuddered at one. But I think it'd be very interesting if one of them died, especially since they're seen as such a unit.
chocolatepot From: chocolatepot Date: July 2nd, 2006 03:00 am (UTC) (Link)
"Oh no, not Fred. Oh, George? Whatever."
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 2nd, 2006 03:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, the one her husband is shocked about may not be one whose fate was changed--it could be one of the people she originally planned to be dead, so that widens the list considerably. Just a random guess, it would be one of the adults--McGonagall or Arthur, maybe. ;)
fallohidepride From: fallohidepride Date: July 2nd, 2006 05:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Interestingly enough, I was just recently discussing the fact that if JKR wanted to REALLY make an emotional impact with a death, a huge literary punch in the gut, she would kill one of the twins. Not both, just one.

Since they're consistently portrayed as a unit, ripping them apart would be highly symbolic of the toll the entire war takes on Harry and everyone he knows. Much as I hate to picture a twin left alone, it would really pack an emotional punch.

I don't know if JKR has the guts or the inclination to do that, though. From a fan standpoint, I hope not. From a literary standpoint, though, it would be extraordinarily effective.
lacontessamala From: lacontessamala Date: July 4th, 2006 08:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think at least one of the twins will die. JKR is big on foreshadowing, and Molly's brothers Gideon and Fabian died in the first war. Plus Molly's boggart.

Also, I think Snape is going to kick it. JKR said in an interview several years ago (I read it on the Leaky Cauldron, couldn't remember which one if I tried) that Snape's redemption was going to be a big theme in Book 7. (which anyone who read HBP already knows, I guess). But I think the only way for JKR to prove where Snape's loyalties lie once and for all is for him to die for his true master.
fallohidepride From: fallohidepride Date: July 4th, 2006 09:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oooh, I hadn't noticed that. HP fen are so crazy-observant. ;) I think there's a good chance that at least one of the twins is toast. Or at least one Weasley, at any rate.

I agree that Snape has to die. From a narrative standpoint, it's not an option. He has to be redeemed, and his death is the logical price of redemption.
njelruch From: njelruch Date: July 2nd, 2006 02:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Charlie's number one on my list of possible unexpected deaths. It would have been Bill, but that just seems like overkill after the permanently disfiguring cursed mauling. Charlie hasn't had much of an arc, but he's probably the only Weasley that's more or less universally liked. (People who hate all red-heads on principle don't count.) And, given his lack of story arc, his death would devastate a lot of characters but wouldn't leave a bunch of loose ends to deal with.

I change my mind on the other unexpected daily. Today I'm going to say Seamus. He's a minor character, but he's a fairly important minor character.

He's been Harry and Ron's dorm-mate for the entire series. He's been for Harry, against him, and for him again. And he's got a harbinger of death as a boggart.

I also think that Peter is marked for death, and I believe that he will try to redeem himself before he dies. But I doubt he's one of the unexpected ones.


From: (Anonymous) Date: July 2nd, 2006 03:18 am (UTC) (Link)
JKR's comment was "...two MORE characters die..." (emphasis mine). What we don't know is does that refer to just Book 7 or to the entire series. If it refers to just the final book, we could lose half the characters at Fleur and Bill's wedding, and she decided to add two more above and beyond those.

Since this is the end, since Voldemort is now more terrible than before, it will be an all-out war and I thoroughly expect MANY to die. Because of Neil's response that she leaked last Fall and repeated on the Richard and Judy Show, I'm fairly sure either Ron, Hagrid, or Lupin get done in. For her somewhat disconnected husband to comment 'not him', has to indicate one of the most loved characters.

The Trophy Room on JKR's site makes me nervous, too. Most of the trophies carry the names of known deceased characters. I worry that the current characters whose names are there are destined for the same fates.



McGonagall's Cat
(sorry, I don't have a LJ)
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 2nd, 2006 03:27 am (UTC) (Link)

ooops

I used a quote and it is inaccurate (was from a discussion rather than the actual JKR quote), but the intent is the same. She is killing off more than she'd first intended.

I'm going to miss Fred, though I do waonder why he is so rough on Ron.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 2nd, 2006 03:31 am (UTC) (Link)
JKR's comment was "...two MORE characters die..."

Exactly--two die who she hadn't initially expected to kill. There will certainly be more, but I'm not going to theorize on who they'll be. I'm just trying to figure out which ones changed their path.
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 2nd, 2006 03:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I forgot about Hagrid entirely! Yes, he's definitely on both lists, for the reasons you mentioned, though I suspect more on the "reprieve" list, because he was set up as being more important and active than he ended up being.
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: July 2nd, 2006 09:07 am (UTC) (Link)
A high casualty list does seem likely, I'm afraid. Molly's remark in HBP about the twins being a target makes me think they might be for the chop -- they certainly fit the definition of 'main characters' for this purpose. And sad to say, Luna and Tonks seem likely candidates too, assuming they were always planned characters, even though introduced late -- not impossible, you'd imagine Slughorn and Scrimgeour could well have been part of the original arc, even if not actually properly
introduced and fleshed out (literally in Horace's case) until the sixth book.

It's an odd feeling planning out post-war stories -- you have to assume quite a number of the characters will be killed off, but you don't know which ones to omit. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 2nd, 2006 03:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, totally separate from the notion of whose fate was changed, I do think Luna and Tonks (and Bill) are in a "safe" kind of place. They're too peripheral to Harry to have a direct emotional impact on his quest (unlike Ron and Hermione, or Lupin, Ginny, Neville, or that class). They could have a secondary effect on one of the members of Harry's inner circle, but the Harry cam makes that hard to sell emotionally. On the other hand, they're not minor enough to just mention their deaths in passing in a big battle scene--in that category, you've got the Patil girls, the Creeveys, Seamus, Oliver Wood, maybe Krum, Crabbe and Goyle on the other side... your basic space fillers are in a lot of danger. But the third-tier characters--important friends of Harry's important friends--I think are in a good place.
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: July 2nd, 2006 03:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I hope you're right -- of course, I'm hoping it won't be my favourite characters beng killed off, so I'd be quite prepared to sacrifice the twins or Neville, say! Luna though -- well, sadly, out of all the sextet she's the most expendable. She's a fairly major character by now, part of the main group, but introduced late and although her death would hurt both Harry and the readers, probably not as much as if one of the others bought it. And although the fact that Lupin and Tonks got a romance in HBP is cause for optimism about their plot arc, there are scenarios where one (or both) getting killed would advance the plot. (Bill though, is probably safe after wht happened in HBP. Charlie is very precariously placed, however.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 2nd, 2006 04:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
she's the most expendable.

That's why I think she's safe, though--her death wouldn't have a really galvanizing effect on the others (except for Neville, maybe), so there's no a good structural point to killing her. I doubt JKR would waste sympathetic character deaths... I expect they'll be people who are deeply involved and whose deaths will affect the direction of the plot.
From: oicrylic Date: July 2nd, 2006 10:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I try not to think about whose going to die, but my sister caitie, and I have a wager going. I think that Harry is going to die. If he does die, I get the pleasure of watching her EAT the page he dies on. She swore to God that she would.
_bowles_ From: _bowles_ Date: July 14th, 2006 06:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree with you about Lupin, but I'm also guessing (and hoping) that Tonks is safe as well. I think JKR intended to kill him off in the beginning, but then somewhere around OotP with Tonks and the beginning of that decided that the Remus/Tonks route would be a much more interesting subplot and killing ALL of the Marauders would be a bit tiring. (Because Peter has to go.) And introducing the Tonks romance so late in the series and then killing her off just doesn't really add up - if it had started around PoA or GoF, yeah, she would've had time to DO something with it, but now it would be pretty pointless to do all that just to kill her off.
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