Questions I have after re-reading Harry Potter

Over the past couple of weeks I have been re-reading the entire Harry Potter series. It was a very interesting and rewarding experience, since I don’t believe I’ve read any of the books since Deathly Hallows came out, but it has also left me with rather a lot of questions.

Some of these questions are simple musings that I don’t really expect an answer to, others feel almost like plot holes, or at least things that could have been explained but weren’t. I would be very interested to hear other people’s views on any or all of these questions.

One thing I want to stress is that I love this entire series, and it isn’t my intention to nitpick it apart. They were just things that popped into my head, and it felt like a good subject for a post. Also, it may be that some of these things are answered on Pottermore, but I’m not enough of a Harry Potter fanatic to subscribe to that website.

So, without further ado, here are the various questions, in no particular order.

Why did Dumbledore take the Philosopher’s Stone out of Gringotts to hide it at Hogwarts?

I understand that he feels that Hogwarts is safer than Gringotts, but seeing as Nicholas Flamel is over six hundred years old, one must assume that the stone has been in Gringotts for several centuries without problems. So why did Dumbledore suddenly feel it needed stronger protection? If it was because he felt Voldemort was about to return as a threat, he must be a better seer than Sybil Trelawney, because I don’t recall any mention of that within the book. At no point did someone say ‘we’ve moved the Philosopher’s Stone because someone’s threatened to steal it!’ If it was in the book and I simply missed it, I would appreciate if someone pointed out the passage to me, because right now I feel that the Stone is at Hogwarts for no other reason than to allow Harry to stick his bespectacled nose into affairs that don’t concern him.

Why can Harry not see thestrals until he’s seen Cedric Diggory die?

There is the obvious fact that he saw his mother die, so if it’s simply about seeing death, then he ought to have been able to see them all his orphaned life. You could get around that clause by saying that you must have seen death at an age where you understand what it means, but didn’t he pretty much kill Professor Quirrell in the first book? Doesn’t that qualify?

Unfortunately I have to put this in the plot hole category, because at the end of book four, the horseless carriages take all the students back to the Hogwarts Express, and Harry cannot see the thestrals, even though this is after the events in the graveyard and Cedric’s death. My guess is that Rowling came up with the (admittedly rather cool) idea of the thestrals somewhere between book four and five.

How do you feed a mandrake potion to a ghost?

No, really, how do you feed a mandrake potion to a ghost? Throughout the entire series, Nearly Headless Nick does little more than bemoan the fact that he hasn’t eaten or drunk anything for five hundred years, so how the hell do they revive him with a potion?

If Voldemort thinks he has to kill Snape to gain control over the Elder Wand, why doesn’t he just kill him?

All throughout he’s killed everyone by using Avada Kedavra with the same casual ease I’d employ when ordering a coffee, so why use Nagini to kill Snape? Apart from the fact that it seems out of character, the whole point is that he wants to gain control of the Elder Wand. In which case, hello Nagini, new master of the Elder Wand. To me this was a thinly disguised ploy to ensure that Snape is still alive when Harry shows himself, so that he can pass on his crucial memories. And speaking of Nagini, that brings me to my next question:

Why the hell did Voldemort think it was a good idea to use an animal as a horcrux?

If his entire goal is to become immortal, then why the hell did he bind his soul to something that’s going to die eventually? Has he studied snake immortality? Or is this a similar case as the one between him and Harry, where neither can die while the other one lives?

Where are Harry’s grandparents?

Sirius mentions that he ran away from home at sixteen and went to live with James, and that James’ parents were okay with that. Yet only five years later Lily and James are killed. We learn in book seven that Lily and James were both only twenty-one when they died, so both sets of grandparents would only have been around the fifty mark, sixty at the very most. I’m not saying that people never die that young, but all four grandparents? Did Voldemort kill them too? If so, why is that never mentioned? I’d go as far as to say that there is a curious lack of grandparents in the wizarding world. The only grandparent I can recall being mentioned is Neville’s fearsome gran. Does this hint at a cover-up of epic proportions, in that magic makes you die young? But Lily’s parents were muggles!

Why is Hermione not in Ravenclaw?

Okay, this very question is actually asked in The Order of the Phoenix, I believe by Ernie MacMillan, but the only answer Hermione gives is that the sorting hat did consider Ravenclaw, but decided on Gryffindor in the end. That still doesn’t explain why though!

Why does Hermione have ethical objections to the enslavement of house-elves and the general treatment of non-human magical races, but doesn’t bat an eyelid at turning rats into cups, hedgehogs into pincushions, and vanishing kittens?

As an animal-lover, I find the wizarding world to have a callous disregard for animal life. Animals are constantly being turned into inanimate objects and vice versa, and I actually went ‘what the fuck’ when during one transfiguration lesson it is said that Hermione was so good that ‘she had progressed to Vanishing kittens’. Whoah, wait! Where did these kittens come from, and where do they go after they’ve been Vanished? Does Argus Filch have a lab somewhere with a supply of breeding cats, just so snotty little wizards can Vanish them during class?

Why doesn’t Harry immediately send away all the first-years who’ve come to try out for the quidditch trials? First-years aren’t allowed to be on the quidditch team!

Such a big deal is made out of that rule in book one, and the fact that Harry is the youngest Seeker in something like a hundred years, that I found it bizarre that it wasn’t referenced at all in book six, when Harry holds his quidditch trials. He does ask all non-Gryffindors to go away at some point, but never says anything about all the first-years who have come out to try!

How did Ron manage to get an ‘exceeds expectations’ in Potions?

Harry and Ron both think they can’t do Potions in year six, because Snape only wants Outstanding OWL students, but Slughorn is happy to take students who Exceed Expectations as well. Yet throughout the first five books, I always got the impression that Ron’s potions are little better than the ones Neville concocts. Harry’s grade is explained by saying that he does a lot better when Snape isn’t breathing down his neck, but is that also the case for Ron? I never got the impression that Snape hassled Ron any more than any of the other non-Slytherins.

How do wizard children learn to read and write?

All Wizard children are invited to Hogwarts, but that’s a continuation of their education. Students like Harry and Hermione are fine, since they went to muggle schools, but I’ve never heard any mention of a wizard prep-school, and they certainly don’t go to muggle schools, or they wouldn’t be so woefully ignorant of simple muggle things like electricity and such. So are they home-schooled? Who by? Did Molly Weasley teach all seven of her children to read and write? If so, how did she find the time?

Let me stress again that I never enjoyed Harry Potter any less for having these burning questions, but I found it interesting that I thought of them only after my recent re-read. Is it because I’m now writing books myself, and I therefore pay more attention to plot holes? Is it just the fact that I know what happens already, and can therefore concentrate more on the writing? I don’t know! But if anyone has satisfying answers to any of these questions, I’d love to hear them.

9 thoughts on “Questions I have after re-reading Harry Potter

  1. thelittlelibrarycafe

    I agree with you – I think Rowling thought up the thestrals between Goblet and Phoenix, but she’s always justified it by talking about the difference between seeing and processing a death – Harry hadn’t processed Cedric’s death just after the Triwizard.
    Lots of other questions I’ve always had too!

    1. Erica Dakin Post author

      As an explanation after the fact that works for me, even if it’s a bit vague! I’ll let her off though, because thestrals are pretty cool as a magical creature.

    1. Erica Dakin Post author

      I’m actually surprised that there aren’t more, and more obvious ones. Few things annoy me as much as really big gaping plot holes, but none of these are of that magnitude, thankfully. It was fun to think about them anyway! =)

  2. H. Anthe Davis

    I read a theory somewhere that to get into Gryffindor is a choice — you choose to be brave. And that otherwise, Hermione would be Ravenclaw, Ron would be Hufflepuff, and Harry would be Slytherin. Instead, by some subconscious decision or the Sorting Hat detecting a kind of heroic tendency, they ‘chose’ Gryffindor.

    ‘Course, that could just be a shrug-off of the inconsistencies. As for home-schooling — folks in the US do it all the time, and Mrs. Weasley seems like a pretty dedicated homemaker so I wouldn’t be surprised. Now I’m imagining a wizard kindergarten though…

    Quidditch thing is probably just an oversight that could have been mended by adding the phrase ‘and the first-years’ in there somewhere.

    About Nagini, I would guess that as a part of Voldemort now, it’s supported by his life-force and so semi-immortal. And because of that connection, anything it ‘owns’, like the wand, belongs to him. Basically a possession mechanic.

    1. Erica Dakin Post author

      Interesting sorting hat theory! Hadn’t heard that one before. That said, there’s also the theory that Gryffindor gets the brave, Ravenclaw the smart, Slytherin the devious, and Hufflepuff gets what the other three don’t want. :p

      Homeschooling – sure it’d work for the Weasleys, but most other wizards I’ve seen have full-time jobs, so when do they have the time to educate their children? To me it just seems one of these things that could have been fixed by one little off-hand remark somewhere. Same with the grandparents.

      Nagini – possibly, but did Voldemort know all that when he made her a horcrux? He doesn’t realise that Harry is tied to him in the same way…

  3. MistressCinder

    I liked your questions! Many of which I had not thought of before. I have read several fanfictions that depicted Mr. and Mrs. Potter as Charlus Potter and Dorea (Black) Potter who died of Dragon Pox immediately prior to James and Lily ‘s wedding. I also have seen this info on a couple of websites but I am unsure if they are using Pottermore as the source material. I have never read any real info on what happened to Lily ‘s parents other than they died of natural causes prior to Lily and James deaths.

    As for primary school for wizards, it sounded like many were home schooled. Or in Draco’s case, he had tutors.

    I agree with Erica that Volmort’s soul was so fractured that he might not have been aware that he somehow made Nagini a horcrux. I also choose to believe that at the end he was unable to save himself by making an additional horcrux because there was too little soul left to work with…

    As for Snape, your right Voldemort should have just killed him directly himself if he was worried about controlling the Elder Wand. It makes no sense having Nagini do it, but I guess I would chock it up to having Snape go out in style with an unusual death and the ability to give Harry time to retrieve the memories.

    1. Erica Dakin Post author

      Thanks for the comment and sorry for the late reaction! I’ve been away on holiday for nearly three weeks. Maybe I really ought to check out Pottermore sometime, and see if there’s any answers there…


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