Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

SPOILER! Meeting Harry & Co. at the Outback Steakhouse
New books dissected over email.
July 25 2007 4:03 PM

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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Illustration by Charlie Powell. Click image to expand.

Dear Everybody:

I've noticed that the common thread weaving through most conversations about the book—ours included—seems to be: This is a book for kids, and therefore we're just a bunch of cranky adults nitpicking at something that's not meant for us. This is a depressing argument that doesn't give the books the respect they deserve. To explain away flaws with, "But it's for kids!" suggests that Rowling's work was meant for the feeble- and young-minded. I've never believed that's the case. I love these books and take them as seriously as you can take anything in which uncontrollable projectile vomiting is a major plot point.

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That is to say: I'm probably never gonna be convinced Harry shouldn't have died. And I'm not sure I buy the argument that it's somehow a better moral for kids if he lives. What's more noble that sacrificing yourself for the powers of good so that others may live? The lesson of the ending, to my eyes, is that everything turns out just fine in the end, all the time, no matter how improbable it may seem. How is that a better lesson? I understand ending the first few books, when the characters were in their preteens and worried primarily about zits, with cheering Quidditch victories. But this series has grown darker and more adult … just like its characters.

I know I've been a spoilsport Grumpy Gus this week, but it's only because I've loved these books so much, become so entranced by the world Rowling created for us, that I feel disappointed that in the final hour she pulled back and didn't trust the reader. Whether that reader is 31, 12, or 98. (Well, OK: Maybe the 98-year-olds couldn't have handled Harry dying, but, you know, they're 98. Best not to mention death to them at all.)

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm heading off to the Outback Steakhouse, where hopefully I'll see a grown-up Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione discussing their mortgages. Magical!

Thanks for letting me play.

They call me the snitch,
Will

Will Leitch is a senior writer for Sports on Earth and a contributing editor at New York magazine.