The Looking Glass : New Perspectives on Children's Literature, Vol 10, No 1 (2006)

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Alice-Whited

Alice's Academy


1492, 1942, 1992: The Theme of Race in the Harry Potter Series

Lana Whited


Lana A. Whited teaches English and journalism at Ferrum College and is editor of The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter (Missouri, 2002). She earned degrees at Emory & Henry College, the College of William & Mary, Hollins College, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is proud to be listed in "The Muggle Encyclopedia" section of The Harry Potter Lexicon web site.


In this article Lana Whited discusses several crucial dates in the Harry Potter books and matches them with European and North American events that historically occurred on those dates. The parallels Whited notes lend weight to what readers may consider a secondary theme of the series: racism. According to Whited, exploring and combating racism is a primary theme for Rowling in this series, and Rowling brings up this theme repeatedly in various comic and dramatic ways.
(Elizabeth Pandolfo Briggs, editor, Alice's Academy)


In the fifth volume of Harry Potter's adventures, the young wizard escapes the loathsome Dursley residence only to arrive at a worse place: the family home of his godfather, Sirius, a dwelling formally known as "The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black" (HP and the Order of the Phoenix 111). Its address, 12 Grimmauld Place, is appropriate, as the house is indeed a grim old place. On his first full day there, Harry and his chums, under the direction of Molly Weasley, undertake cleaning and clearing away decades of dirt, pests, and possessions. One of their tasks is disinfecting a tapestry that dates to the Middle Ages, outlining the Black genealogy. During the tapestry-cleaning episode, Harry is startled to notice a line on the Black family tree connecting Sirius to Bellatrix Lestrange, Narcissa Malfoy, and, consequently, Draco Malfoy. As Sirius's mother's portrait constantly reminds everyone at an ear-piercing level, Harry's godfather is the white sheep of the Black family, having in his youth scorned the family motto: " Toujours pur, " or "Always pure" (Phoenix, 111). As this clear evidence of racial bigotry suggests, Rowling uses the gold lines on the old tapestry to connect far more than members of the Black family. The genealogy of the House of Black connects Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to a central theme that Rowling has been developing throughout the Harry Potter series: the goal of racial purity and the horrors perpetrated by those who pursue it.

I first advanced the argument that race is a central theme in the Harry Potter series in April 2003 at a Popular Culture Association of America meeting in New Orleans. I reiterated the argument in early 2004 in the afterword to the paperback edition of my book The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter: Perspectives on a Literary Phenomenon. The theme of race and racial prejudice has subsequently been discussed by Elaine Ostry, whose essay "Accepting Mudbloods: The Ambivalent Social Vision of J . K. Rowling's Fairy Tales" appeared in Reading Harry Potter, a collection of essays edited by Giselle Liza Anatol, published in summer 2003. Ostry argues that Rowling uses a number of fairy tale elements and that, like fairy tales, the Harry Potter books introduce radical or "liberal" elements but ultimately affirm the status quo. With regard to race, Ostry argues that the Harry Potter series raises the possibility of a pluralistic society with Harry as its champion but that, at the same time, Rowling suggests that Harry's heroism can ultimately be attributed to luck and status (being the son of famous parents), not to the fact that his mother comes from a family of mixed—Muggle and magical—blood (89-90). Ostrey's argument is quite similar to that offered by Farah Mendlesohn in "Crowning the King: Harry Potter and the Construction of Authority." Mendlesohn examines the political and power structures of Harry Potter's universe, arguing, like Ostry, that Rowling raises questions about the status quo but ultimately affirms it. The Harry Potter books, writes Mendlesohn,

argue superficially for fairness, [while] they actually portray privilege and exceptionalism . . . ; they argue for social mobility while making such mobility contingent on social connections, and they argue for tolerance and kindness toward the inferior while denying the oppressed the agency to change their own lives. In this they embody inherently conservative and hierarchical notions of authority clothed in evangelistic mythopoeic fantasy."
(181)

Of course, the arguments of Ostry and Mendlesohn are offered about halfway through a seven-volume series, and whether or not Rowling ultimately affirms, rejects, or revises the cultural and sociopolitical status quo depends to a large extent on how she ends the series. A critical component of the answer to this question might be found in Rowling's development of the theme of racial prejudice in the six Harry Potter novels published to date. In establishing the theme of race and racial prejudice and developing this theme, Rowling invokes or alludes to some of the most notorious incidents of race-based persecution in the history of the Western world. An analysis of her use of this theme and of the historical incidents to which she alludes reveals much about Rowling's overall aims for the series.

In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone, Rowling outlines exposition for the entire Harry Potter saga, providing both Harry and the reader with a general introduction to the magical world. The theme of racial prejudice is not formally introduced until Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but even in her first book, Rowling hints at what is to come with reference to Vernon Dursley's prejudice against witches and wizards and the rift this caused in Harry's own family. Then, in Chamber of Secrets, she lays the groundwork for a saga exploring issues of race. Interestingly, the theme is introduced in the second book in a comic context by a character whose role a reader may misperceive as merely comic relief: Nearly Headless Nick. Just as Nick is prohibited from joining the hoity-toity Headless Hunt by virtue of his being incompletely beheaded, young witches and wizards of mixed wizard and Muggle ancestry, such as Hermione Granger, both of whose parents are Muggles, and Harry himself, whose mother, Lily, was Muggle-born, suffer the scorn of some Hogwarts classmates, especially students in Slytherin House. Slytherin's founder, Salazar Slytherin, left Hogwarts sometime after its founding because the school's other three founders, Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Helga Hufflepuff, rejected his proposal to admit only the children of pureblood wizarding families. Hogwarts students are reminded of the circumstances of the school's founding in the Sorting Hat's uncharacteristically serious opening song in the fifth book. The hat warns that it has misgivings about separating students into factions and that all students must unite to prevent the danger posed by "external, deadly foes" (Phoenix, 206). It is significant that Hogwarts was built separate from and invisible to Muggles in the Middle Ages in the first place because of their bigotry toward witches and wizards.

Nearly Headless Nick's Deathday Party in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets also establishes the date of Harry's second school year as 1992: Nick's cake indicates that he was beheaded on October 31, 1492, and he is celebrating the five-hundredth anniversary of his death (thus, Harry, who turns 12 on July 31 of that year, was born in 1980). The year 1492 is familiar to every Muggle schoolchild in North America as the year when "Columbus sailed the ocean blue." However, to some Hispanic people of the Americas, Columbus's journey is known as "El Dia de la Raza," or the Day of the Race—the day the blood of the "Old" and "New" Worlds mixed [1].

The date 1492 has historical significance not only in North America but also in the country that dispatched Christopher Columbus to the "New World": Spain. After years of scorn, prejudice, and persecution, Jews in Spain were expelled by the Alhambra Decree, issued by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella and dated March 31, 1492 [2]. The decree blames Spanish Jews for "great damage and detriment of our holy Catholic faith" and orders "that all Jews and Jewesses be ordered to leave our kingdom, and that they never be allowed to return" ("Alhambra decree"). The Spanish rulers added the stern warning that "Any Jew who does not comply with this edict and is to be found in our kingdom and domains, or who returns to the kingdom in any manner, will incur punishment by death and confiscation of all their belongings" ("Alhambra decree"). The decree was publicly announced on May 1, 1492, and Jews were given three months to get out of the country. Thus, the deadline for the Jews' departure was a day that will resonate with Harry Potter fans: July 31, the birthday of both the boy wizard and his famous creator.

Another key date in Hogwarts' history critical to the plot of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is an anagram of 1492: 1942. The Chamber of Secrets, Harry learns in 1992, was opened fifty years previously by Tom Marvolo Riddle, also a "Mudblood." "Tom Marvolo Riddle" is, of course, an anagram of "Lord Voldemort." This dating situates the opening of the Chamber squarely during the heyday of modern human history's most notorious racial purist, Adolf Hitler. Hitler's own Jewish ancestry apparently caused him to view himself with the scorn Draco Malfoy reserves for "Mudbloods" and has led generations of scholars to surmise that his attempt to exterminate the Jews might have been an attempt to eliminate the part of himself he loathed. It is easy to see connections between Hitler's methods and the chamber created by Salazar Slytherin to rid Hogwarts of "undesirable" students. By 1942, Hitler and his henchmen had progressed from edicts such as the Nuremberg Laws that codified prejudice against the Jews to the so-called "Final Solution" — the death camps [3]. Thus, Tom Riddle's opening of the Chamber of Secrets coincides with the opening of the Nazis' death chambers. Rowling also writes that Headmaster Albus Dumbledore defeated the great evil wizard Grindelwald in 1945, which is, of course, the same year when the Third Reich was finally vanquished (and the German sound of the name Grindelwald is probably not coincidental). Rowling neatly connects the dark theme of the Harry Potter saga with the events of 1492 and 1942 in three subsequent chapters in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. First, in Chapter Seven [4], Draco Malfoy calls Hermione a "Mudblood," and Ron (whose own family is pureblood) explains to Harry why that term is a serious insult. In Chapter Eight, "The Deathday Party," Harry runs into Nick, who has just received his rejection from the Headless Hunt, and, the same night, throws his Deathday Party. Returning from the party in the Hogwarts dungeon to the main floor of the castle, Harry, Ron, and Hermione encounter, written in blood on a wall, the words "THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS HAS BEEN OPENED. ENEMIES OF THE HEIR, BEWARE" (Chamber of Secrets, 138).

Thus, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, in consecutive chapters, Rowling lays the foundation for the confrontation of those who promote racial purity and those who believe, as Ron Weasley does, that without interracial marriage, the old wizarding families might have died out. Then, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Rowling turns her attention to James and Lily Potter's Hogwarts generation and to other forms of prejudice, such as that against werewolves. She moves to the larger wizarding world in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, adding more questions about cultural, national, and ethnic bias (raised most notably by the Quidditch World Cup and the Triwizard Tournament); in Goblet of Fire, she also suggests that prejudice has much darker manifestations than the mere taunting of "Mudbloods," as the harassment and abuse of Muggles during the Quidditch World Cup disturbingly illustrate. Then Rowling returns to focus again on the theme of racial purity in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

This theme of discrimination is amplified in both Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix in the context of Hermione's campaign on behalf of the house-elves. An insightful analysis of Rowling's treatment of the theme of enslavement and of that theme's long presence in children's literature is Brycchan Carey's essay "Hermione and the House-Elves: The Literary and Historical Contexts of J. K. Rowling's Antislavery Campaign" in Giselle Liza Anatol's Reading Harry Potter. As Roni Natov observes in her essay "Harry Potter and the Extraordinariness of the Ordinary," Hermione has the keenest sense of justice of all the Hogwarts students. Natov writes, "Even though Harry has freed Dobby . . . [,] Hermione alone understands the oppression of the house-elves, as they serve their masters, bowing and scraping, without pay" (131). Eliza Dresang also discusses the house-elves' servitude extensively in her analysis of Hermione's characterization in "Hermione Granger and the Heritage of Gender." Rowling's presentation of the house-elves' enslavement in both Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix is complex, and her attitude about the house-elves' predicament appears ambiguous. Despite Hermione's zeal, the venerable Albus Dumbledore does not appear troubled by the house-elves' servitude. While Dobby is ecstatic about his freedom, Winky becomes distraught whenever questions of rights and liberty arise. In her argument in The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter about the power structure of Harry's world, Farah Mendlesohn calls Winky a "happy darky" figure. And Mendlesohn argues that Hermione's S.P.E.W. campaign "is undermined at every turn with arguments straight from the American antebellum South" (180). Mendlesohn further notes that Hermione herself is inconsistent in indicting the house-elf system; she does not, for example, "question the provision of the tournament banquet" in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (180). In Order of the Phoenix, which appeared after the publication of Mendlesohn's essay, Rowling introduces a house-elf who reflects an even more insidious consequence of slavery: Kreacher, the Black family elf, who is enslaved to Sirius's mother and wanders around the decrepit mansion repeating her accusations: "Stains of dishonour, filthy half-breeds, blood-traitors, children of filth . . ." (103). That Kreacher has begun to echo the epithets himself illustrates what is perhaps the most damaging kind of racism, that in which the victim takes up victimization. In most situations of colonialism - a form of exploitation with which the British have had ample experience - the indentured differ in race from those who enslave them, and this difference is essential to the enslavers' ability to see the indentured as "other." Thus, the theme of the house-elves' status is inextricably linked to the larger questions about race that Rowling encourages the reader to explore.

It is clear, by the end of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, that the combatants in the confrontation foreseen by Sibyl Trelawney will line up in a configuration delineating their positions on the racial question. In Harry's fourth year, he encounters the adversary's force: the Death Eaters. Early in his fifth year, Harry sees how the theme of "Toujours pur" has played out in one pureblooded wizarding family, and he becomes acquainted with the group that forms the crux of the resistance: the Order of the Phoenix. This group's emblem is also foreshadowed in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, when Harry's demonstration of loyalty to his headmaster brings Dumbledore's phoenix, Fawkes, to aid the boy in fighting the basilisk. Harry learns that his parents belonged to the Order, along with Alice and Frank Longbottom and the Potters' closest friends, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin. Harry's mysterious Potions master Severus Snape is also a member, and this is probably not a surprise, as Rowling quite early in the series establishes Snape as the most ambiguous and unpredictable character. All the adult Weasleys are Order members except Percy, who has announced his devotion to a Ministry of Magic increasingly hostile to Albus Dumbledore and is consequently estranged from his family. And during his fifth year, Harry's primary project is the establishment and training of a sort of junior order called Dumbledore's Army. In his sixth year, he gains much more insight into the source of Voldemort's quest for power and racial purity: his own perceived inadequacy. Thus, it seems safe to argue that, with only one volume to go in Harry Potter's saga, the combatants for the great confrontation are assembled, and the linking of characters such as the Malfoys and Bellatrix Lestrange to "The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black" makes clear that the battle lines will be drawn in such a way as to foreground an argument about racial beliefs.

Considering the attention Rowling devotes to this theme in books two through five, it should have come as no surprise that she entitled the sixth installment in her series Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince [5]. In Book Six, Rowling turns to a more personal investigation of racism: the question of what makes an individual persecutor racist. By delving more deeply into the family background of Tom Marvolo Riddle, Rowling raises the question of whether loathing of others is rooted in loathing of oneself. Riddle, it turns out, is the illegitimate son of a Muggle nobleman (Tom Riddle) and a pureblooded witch (Merope Gaunt), and, as a boy, he was disowned by his well-connected father, who feared family shame and loss of social standing. Riddle's maternal grandfather, Marvolo Gaunt, is the sort of man who greets a Ministry of Magic official with the question, "Are you pure-blood?" (203) And when he learns that his daughter is infatuated with the Muggle Tom Riddle, he explodes, articulating his supremacist stance: "My daughter — pure-blooded descendant of Salazar Slytherin — hankering after a filthy, dirt-veined Muggle? . . . You disgusting little Squib, you filthy little blood traitor!" (210) Rowling underscores the theme of purity of pedigree in her choice of Voldemort's mother's name: Merope. In Greek mythology, Merope is the name of the only one of the seven Pleiades to marry a mortal, Sisyphus. Consequently, her star is the dimmest of the "Seven Sisters," and she repents not having married a god. In the Oedipus Trilogy, Merope is also the name of the foster mother of the doomed Oedipus. Thus, combining these two allusions, Rowling achieves in Tom Marvolo Riddle a character associated with the mixed status of Merope and Sisyphus's son, Glaucon, and the identity crisis — and perhaps eventual tragedy — of Oedipus. Voldemort seeks a society characterized by a purity of blood that he can never himself achieve, just as Adolph Hitler did in Germany in the same time frame that the fictional Tom Riddle was a Hogwarts student. Perhaps Rowling is hinting that, like Oedipus, Tom Riddle can fully know himself and achieve his vision only at the cost of his own annihilation.

The theme of racial purity is underscored in Book Six by another intriguing development: an infallible potions textbook falls into Harry's hands after he is admitted at the last minute to Professor Slughorn's class. Examining the text, Harry finds, inside the back cover, the designation "This Book is the Property of the Half-Blood Prince." One of Harry's central quests during his sixth year at Hogwarts is uncovering the identity of the book's owner. It comes as quite a surprise to Harry and, no doubt, to many readers, that the word "Prince" in that appellation refers not to someone of royal status but simply to a surname: Eileen Prince, mother of the ever-ambivalent former Potions Master Severus Snape. And Hermione Granger's work to reveal Snape as "the Half-Blood Prince" explains the adjective as well as the noun: Snape's father, she has learned from The Daily Prophet, was a Muggle (637). Thus, Snape is himself a "Mudblood," a term he applies in anger to Lily Evans Potter in Order of the Phoenix (648). This raises the possibility that Snape's mixed-blooded wizarding status might be at the root of his bitterness and surliness. It is ironic that Snape, a "Mudblood," is head of the house named for racial purist Salazar Slytherin.

One additional point about the theme of race and race-based prejudice is worth noting. As the Sorting Hat reminds us, when Hogwarts' house identities were established at the time of the school's founding, Slytherin preferred students from pure-blooded families, Gryffindor chose the courageous, Ravenclaw recruited the brightest students, and Hufflepuff took anyone at all. The hat sings, "Said Hufflepuff, `I'll teach the lot, and treat them just the same'" (Phoenix, 205). It will be interesting to see what role Hufflepuff will play in the coming conflict, considering its characterization as a sort of "open admission" house and as a group that Rowling has largely ignored in the first five books. A reader would do well to recall that Voldemort's victim Cedric Diggory was a Hufflepuff, giving that house ample motive for joining forces with Harry to fight the "Dark Lord."

In announcing Cedric Diggory's death to the Hogwarts students at the conclusion of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Headmaster Albus Dumbledore offers a speech reminiscent of Winston Churchill's remarks to his fellow Brits as, following a string of German victories on the European continent and, with the Soviet Union and the United States not yet in the conflict, it appeared that England would face the Germany army alone: "It is my belief — and never have I so hoped that I am mistaken — that we are all facing dark and difficult times" (723-24). With the steadfastness of Churchill, Dumbledore provides students with both courage and conviction for enduring the battle he foresees, reminding them "we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided" and instructing them, should they find their resolve waning, to "Remember Cedric Diggory" (724). Voldemort's reconstitution and the threat he represents are powerful enough to provoke the venerable Dumbledore to level with students about Cedric's death, and the tone of the end of Goblet of Fire has much in common with the atmosphere in Europe as Hitler's power grew and his aims became clear. Reviewing the novel, Tim Wynne-Jones of the Ottawa Citizen wrote that it "ends with the wizard world in the same brooding uncertainty as Europe found itself about the time Hitler goose-stepped into Sudetanland."

A reader might thus be tempted to impose an allegorical reading on the confrontation Dumbledore foresees. In World War II (a conflict, it should be noted, that involved every major power in the world), the nations of England, the United States, and the Soviet Union formed an alliance to fight Hitler, with support from the French Résistance; in Goblet of Fire, the Triwizard Tournament brings together representatives of "the three largest European schools of wizardry": Hogwarts, the British school; a French wizarding academy, Beauxbatons; and Durmstrang, presumably a Northern European school. (It is noted in Goblet of Fire that, at Durmstrang, the winter days are very short, and, in the film version of Goblet of Fire, Dumbledore refers to the Durmstrang contingent as "our friends from the North"; nevertheless, Durmstrang's headmaster, Karkarov, has a Slavic name and is regarded as suspiciously as some Eastern European leaders have been viewed by the West. In addition, it is revealed in Goblet of Fire that Durmstrang does not admit Muggle students.) As the threat of Voldemort increases, Dumbledore dispatches emissaries to secure necessary alliances. Just as Europe was fragmented into Allied and Axis powers, the world of the Harry Potter novels is divided between magical and Muggle, and, furthermore, the magical world splits increasingly into Lord Voldemort's followers, the Death Eaters, on the one hand, and the Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore's Army on the other. And just as Hitler was responsible for a genocide whose primary victims shared his Jewish blood, among Tom Marvolo Riddle's victims are his own father and paternal grandparents — killed, most likely, in 1942 or 1943 [6].

But if Rowling's work can be read on an allegorical level, its greatness lies in the fact that the allegory defies application to a single set of historical circumstances. Rowling specifically (if subtly) calls a reader's attention to the time periods of the Spanish and German persecutions of the Jews, and the bondage of the house-elves obviously reminds readers of slavery in the American South and Latin America, but the ideology of superiority which Rowling explores transcends any specific incidence of racism and, in fact, racism itself. Because Rowling constructs a universe in which the notion of adequacy is predicated upon a person's (and that person's ancestors') ability to do magic, the prejudice in her work takes on a generic or hypothetical quality. It might be racism, but it might also be any of scores of other prejudices. Its root is in making socially constructed value judgments about human beings based on qualities that are inherent, and Rowling, largely through the character of Albus Dumbledore, repeatedly rejects this thinking. After Harry has defeated Voldemort and the basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets, his headmaster strikes a chord for human autonomy over inherency, telling him, "It is our choices, Harry, that show what we really are, far more than our abilities" (333). And when Dumbledore suggests in Goblet of Fire that Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge send envoys to the giants and Fudge objects, citing the common prejudice against giants, Dumbledore retorts, "You place too much importance, and you always have done, on the so-called purity of blood! You fail to recognize that it matters not what someone is born, but what they [sic] grow to be!" (708) Thus, the concept of blood or race (e.g., the wizarding race) in the novel is part of a more fundamental question of human existence that applies to every human: what matters more, who one is or what one does ? The Sorting Hat, after all, reminds Harry that he could have had real successes in Slytherin, but Harry wills himself to Gryffindor. Tom Riddle, by contrast, is placed into Slytherin, "almost the moment that the Sorting Hat touched his head" (Half-Blood Prince 360).

The theme of racial identity and adequacy is inextricable from another central theme in the Harry Potter saga: life, death, and the desire for immortality. All creatures have two primary drives: the drive for self-preservation and the drive to preserve the species. In Voldemort, these instincts are in conflict, as the group he wants to preserve, pureblood wizards, is a group to which he does not belong. His passion for self-preservation motivates his attempt in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone to try to steal the means of immortality and in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire to reconstitute himself with the blood of his bitterest enemy: young Harry himself, another wizard who lacks the pure blood Voldemort so prizes. Perhaps the clash between his yearning to preserve himself and his desire for the immortality of the purebloods helps account for his great anger, as, on some level, Voldemort must realize that in pursuing the immortality of the pure blood, he hastens his own extinction. What Dumbledore and the others in the Order of the Phoenix know is that there is a greater race, the wizarding race, which is more important than any individual or subgroup of wizards and witches. Certainly Rowling is exploring the conflict between ethnic purists and self-preservationists on the one hand and a higher vision of morality and justice on the other. The imperialistic motives of the would-be conqueror are strong, and, for our young conquistador, rough seas lie ahead. Will Harry successfully defend the pluralistic vision of Godric Gryffindor? Will the house-elves be liberated, the werewolves and half-giants be universally accepted, and the wizards and Muggles live harmoniously side-by-side? Will Sir Nicholas de Mimsy Porpington be admitted, at last, to the Headless Hunt? The answers to these questions appear to be at the very heart of wherever Harry might be headed.

Notes

1 I am grateful to Tonia Moxley, a reporter for the Roanoke Times 's New River Valley bureau and a previous editor of my media issues column on roanoke.com, for bringing El Dia de la Raza to my attention.
2 I am grateful to my colleague Dr. Edward L. Cornbleet for bringing the Alhambra Decree and the July 31 deadline to my attention.
3 Most historians of the Holocaust agree that the mass extermination of the Jews began in 1941.
4 The number seven, which has long had magical associations, proves to be very important in the Harry Potter series. Harry himself was born at the end of the seventh month of the year (as was his creator), and his love interest, Ginny Weasley (whose whole first name, Ginevra, has seven letters), is the seventh child in an old wizarding family whose surname also contains seven letters. Thus, it is appropriate, even if it is not intentional, that the theme of racial prejudice is introduced in Chapter Seven of a book in a series that will run eventually to seven books.
5 To my knowledge, the only Harry Potter scholar to hazard a guess at future titles is John Granger, who predicted after the publication of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that Book Six would be called Harry Potter and the Wounded Unicorn and Book Seven would be Harry Potter and the Centaur's Choice. In early 2004, there was considerable speculation online that the sixth book would be called Harry Potter and the Green Flame, but this title appears to have originated in fan fiction about Harry's exploits.
6 As the date of Nearly Headless Nick's Deathday Party cake makes clear, the events of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets transpire in 1992. The Chamber of Secrets has not been opened for fifty years; thus, the date of the previous opening would be 1942, and Tom Riddle is described, when Harry confronts him in the Chamber, as "not a day older than sixteen" (Chamber of Secrets 307). Introducing the memory of Riddle's quest to find his father, Dumbledore tells Harry that this memory took place "In the summer of [Riddle's] sixteenth year" (Half-Blood Prince 303). Riddle calls first on his uncle Morfin Gaunt, who tells him of Merope Gaunt's affair with Tom Riddle, and the next day the bodies of Tom Riddle and his parents are found in Little Hangleton. Thus, Tom Marvolo Riddle appears to have killed his own parents in the summer of 1942 or 1943, depending on his birth date (the film version of Goblet of Fire endorses the date 1943, visible on Tom Riddle's tombstone in the graveyard confrontation scene).

Works Cited

"Alhambra decree." Wikipedia. 18 September 2005. http://enwikipedia.org/wiki/alhambra_decree.

Anatol, Giselle Lisa. "The Fallen Empire: Exploring Ethnic Otherness in the World of Harry Potter." In Anatol, Reading Harry Potter, 163-78.

---, ed. Reading Harry Potter: Critical Essays. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2003.

Anderson, Hollie. "Reading Harry Potter with Navajo Eyes," in Elizabeth Hillman, ed., Harry Potter's World: Multidisciplinary Critical Perspectives (New York: RoutledgeFalmer, 2003).

Carey, Brycchan. "Hermione and the House-Elves: The Literary and Historical Contexts of J. K. Rowling's Antislavery Campaign." In Anatol, Reading Harry Potter. 103-15.

Denn, Rebekah. "Potter Author Putters with Plans—Online." Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 5 March 2004. Lexis-Nexis, http://www.lexis-nexis.com, accessed 19 March 2004.

Dresang, Eliza. "Hermione Granger and the Heritage of Gender." In Whited, Ivory Tower, 211-42.

"Jewish History Sourcebook: The Expulsion from Spain, 1492 CE." The Jewish History Sourcebook. Fordham University. 18 September 2005. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/jewish/1492-jews-spain1.html.

Mendlesohn, Farah. "Crowning the King: Harry Potter and the Construction of Authority." In Whited, Ivory Tower, 159-81.

Natov, Roni. "Harry Potter and the Extraordinariness of the Ordinary." In Whited, Ivory Tower, 125-39.

Newell, Mike, dir. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Warner Brothers, 2005.

Ostrey, Elaine. "Accepting Mudbloods: The Ambivalent Social Vision of J. K. Rowling's Fairy Tales." In Anatol, Reading Harry Potter, 89-101.

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. New York: Scholastic, 1999.

---. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. New York: Scholastic, 2000.

---. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. New York: Scholastic, 2005.

---. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. New York: Scholastic, 2003.

---. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. New York: Scholastic, 1999.

---. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. New York: Scholastic, 1998.

Westman, Karin. "Spectres of Thatcherism: Contemporary British Culture in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter Series." In Whited, Ivory Tower, 305-28.

Whited, Lana. "Epilogue: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter: Perspectives on a Literary Phenomenon. Columbia: U of Missouri P, 2004. 365-73.

---, editor. The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter: Perspectives on a Literary Phenomenon. Columbia: U of Missouri P, 2002.

Wynne-Jones, Tim. "Harry Potter and the Blaze of Publicity." Review of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Ottawa Citizen 16 July 2000: C16.

 

Lana Whited


Volume 10, Issue 1 The Looking Glass January, 2006

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