Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

SPOILER! Why the Ending Makes Perfect Sense
New books dissected over email.
July 24 2007 1:17 PM

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows


Illustration by Charlie Powell. Click image to expand.

Dear Will and Dan,

I disagree about the epilogue. I find it perfectly fitting that a book about schoolchildren working out the consequences of their parents' experiences as schoolchildren should end with a glimpse of their own children heading off to school. I don't believe that Rowling doesn't know or doesn't care what happened to Harry, Hermione, Ron, etc.; I certainly don't believe that she considers their careers unimportant. Rather, she's telling her readers—particularly the children—that children are the heart of her story.


And anyway, who says Harry isn't an Auror and Hermione isn't the minister of magic? Rowling leaves that to her readers' imaginations, a plentiful commodity. This week most of it is bent on celebrating, deploring, reworking, extending, interpreting, interpolating, and generally poring over Rowling's world. Harry and his friends are in good hands—millions of them.

Unlike both of you—and most readers?—I find I have no desire for another sequel. Now that it's all over, I'm glad to be done with it. I loved the beginning of the series, which sparkled with light touches, cozy scenes, and ingenious devices, but I've found the past few books unwieldy, diffuse, and way too long, and the attempts at mythmaking tiresome. For me, the Deathly Hallows was the last haystack.

I could quibble for pages. House elves, for example: Wizardly restrictions on magic don't apply to them; they can apparate past enchanted defenses. In several of the books, the Death Eaters could have used a tidy, reliable method of infiltrating Hogwarts. Why aren't the good guys more worried about the house elf threat? Rowling's explanation—that Voldemort & Co. consider the elves beneath their notice—strikes me as lame.

Or take Lily's death. Dan, you mention Rowling's fascination with "parents' fierce and protective love for their children." You're right. It's all over the series—Molly Weasley, Luna's dad. So why does Rowling present Lily Potter's decision to give her life for her son as unique, the thing that sets him apart from wizardkind? Even the pointedly named Narcissa Malfoy puts aside her self-interest for her son's sake. What's so special about Lily's sacrifice? Isn't that just the logical conclusion of parental love—wouldn't any mother do the same?

I could go on and on like this, and not just with my own quibbles; my inbox, the "Fray," and the entire Internet are crammed with other people's. But I don't really believe we quibblers are disappointed in the book because of its faults and inconsistencies. I think it's the other way around. If we weren't disappointed already, we might not even consider those things flaws. One of my friends finds it grating that wizards live in a world that intersects with the Muggle world (Diagon Alley is in London), but they don't even know how to dress; she thinks Rowling goes for cheap laughs without caring how much they cost in inconsistencies. I love Rowling's humor, so that doesn't bother me. I'm sure if I loved her larger vision I would see the holes as a beautiful lacy pattern, useful for ventilation, that keeps the books from getting stuffy.

I hope Rowling goes on to write more novels—short ones, with her signature slapstick belle esprit. If she doesn't, I'll read other people's. There are plenty at least as good.


Polly Shulman is the author of Enthusiasm, a novel for young adults.



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?


Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.