Here at the start of this column, I should warn the reader that if you are that particular individual who is reading the “Harry Potter” series (or plans to), but have not gotten through Book 6 yet, this may be a little bit of a spoiler for you, so keep that in mind. As it happens, though, I read a number of “spoiler” essays and articles before I read even the first of the “Harry Potter” stories, and for me there was no disappointment. I’m writing this particular column, for those readers who believe their taste in literature and discussion is a bit like my own. As a result, I am amusing myself with a few guesses about what we will see happen in the last book of the “Harry Potter” saga.
There’s always a risk in predicting what will happen in a book that has yet to be written; it could even be, that if a certain thought becomes popular, Ms. Rowling might decide to avoid precisely that, simply because she wants a surprise or four in the last book. But I believe the claim that Ms. Rowling has already planned out the framework of her story, and there are certain basic presumptions which have been established in the first six books/years.
Obviously, a lot of readers are doing the same thing I am; looking at the story as it has come to its present position, and trying to chart the course to come. The reasons that I think my guess might be closer, is because of two points I have observed. First, Rowling is not perfect, not describing a real place with real events which can be corroborated. She has made some mistakes in consistency and veracity, as often happens when an author creates a complex world for a story, and must maintain it for a long time. This is, actually, to Rowling’s credit, as this is one of the qualities which makes her stories compelling. But it also provides a clue to Rowling’s own priorities, because Rowling will naturally have made sure to keep the story consistent on those points and details that she considers essential to the plot. The second point, is simply that sometimes people see what they expect to see, whether or not it’s really there. I will try to avoid that mistake here, but it’s important to recognize that this happens.
So, what are these priorities to Ms. Rowling? A look through the six books already done shows the following elements:
1. Harry is always in danger, but is never critically or permanently injured, although he does get hurt.
2. Voldemort is successful in his plots, except for any of them which involve Potter.
3. Voldemort trusts no one, and has no friends. In contrast, Harry has several close friends, is close to them and depends on them. Harry also considers his friends’ feelings, and is even open to considering the feelings of his enemies, at times even feeling pity for enemies like Snape and Malfoy.
4. The significant action always takes place at or in relation to Hogwarts.
5. Harry has done a number of actions which, Dumbledore has reminded Harry, create a kind of power for which Voldemort has no answer, such as mercy for Wormtail.
6. Voldemort is acting out of his own lust for power. Harry is acting as he feels he is required to do, and has no desire for personal glory or power (again, as Dumbledore reminded Harry when discussing the Sorceror’s Stone)
7. There are other players in this conflict, of whom Voldemort may well have no knowledge. The mysterious “R.A.B.” who appears in book 6, the question of whether the people killed by Voldemort might not come back in some form (remember in the duel between Voldemort and Potter, Voldemort’s victims come back to help Harry escape), and of course the question of what role people like Neville Longbottom, Ron Weasley, and of course Severus Snape may play. And I have a hunch we may see Fleur and Viktor come into play, as well.
So, let’s put this together and see what looks like the direction. First off, we will see Bill and Fleur’s wedding in the first part of the book. I notice that Rowling likes to mix happy and sad events in the early story of each book. Since Harry is not at all happy at the end of ‘Half-Blood Prince’, that tells me Rowling will try to brighten the mood a bit. I will honestly say that I cannot be sure that Hogwarts will open again that year; on the one hand, Hogwarts has always been a center of action and focus in the story, but with Dumbledore’s death (and Snape’s exit) it becomes a bit difficult to see who would be the face of Hogwarts. The fact that book 6 ends without a House Cup awarded suggests that major changes are happening.
I think I will ponder things a bit further before making the whole prediction, but two things strike me about the conflict between Voldemort and Potter, which actually bode well for Harry’s victory and survival. First is the fact that Voldemort fared rather badly the first time he and Harry crossed paths, and the tearing of his own soul into 7 parts seems representative that he can never be whole, itself an apparent reason to say Voldemort cannot win. Harry, in contrast, has been growing end developing, at the end of each year stronger in character and ability. Voldemort has enjoyed some successes, but always at a cost he has not truly seen in effect, while Harry is setting up a condition which indicates he is owed a moral debt by a great many people.
Then there is the simple fact, that Chapter 1 of the first book may have said it plainly: Harry Potter is described by Rowling herself as “The Boy Who Lived”. It would only be consistent that Harry also gets to live as a man.