Taking a little detour from my normal book review blogging because I’m reading The Goldfinch, which already feels like a Rube Goldberg machine of a novel even though I’m barely into it. So it might be awhile till I get to post the review. Now, I didn’t want to get out of the blogging habit. But what to blog about?
Well, I turned on the TV. And ABC Family is showing Harry Potter. Again! (Seriously, they show the series at least once a month.) And it got me thinking about this J.K. Rowling interview from back in February, where she says Harry & Hermione should have ended up together. Even though she later sort-of backtracked, it did get me thinking about what I didn’t like about the Harry Potter resolution and how I think the series should have ended.
I agree that Harry should have ended up with Hermione instead of Ron. But not because they were a better match. I think it should have happened that way because Ron should have died.
Hang on, put away the pitchforks and let me explain.
In great clashes of good versus evil, good triumphs, but at great cost. It’s what makes Tolkien ring so true (ha! unintentional bad pun alert!) after all these years; Frodo survives, but he never completely recovers from the wounds he suffers on the quest. That is what makes him heroic: destroying the ring requires sacrifice. It demonstrates that good is worth fighting for, is worth dying for, and even more is worth living and suffering for. But the Potter trio seem to live happily ever after, and I always thought that cheapened the story.
But imagine a world where Ron dies. And not just a careless, stupid death, like getting hit in the head in a quidditch match. But imagine a heroic death. Imagine Ron sacrificing himself to save Harry, jumping on metaphorical (or literal) magical grenade. Imagine a Harry Potter universe where the one who was always second fiddle to The One finally gets to be first chair, and he is up to the task, even though it costs him his life. Imagine a world where Ron Weasley lays down his life for his friend, and in doing so, allows Harry save everyone else. Isn’t that a better finish for the perpetually self-doubting, inept sidekick?
Then of course, as Rowling suggested in the interview, Harry & Hermione do end up together. But it’s not because they are a better “match;” it’s because all they have left is each other. It’s a bittersweet romance built on bravery and loss and survival. The Chosen One as a consolation prize, as it were. (Note: In my alternate storyline, Ginny dies too. Or maybe the stupid romance she has with Harry is ditched before it gets started and she ends up with Neville. Or whatever.)
And then in the epilogue, Harry & Hermione are sending their son off to Hogwarts. And everyone else is there…except Ron. And everyone exchanges those sad, knowing looks as they remember him. Oh, and the name of Harry & Hermione’s son? Well, of course it’s Ronald. The most noble of them all.
Now tell me: Isn’t that a better ending?