Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Harry Potter: Final Chapter

JK Rowling (pictured), the author of the successful Harry Potter series of books, says that, even though she has not finished the last book yet, she is “well into it now.” When asked how she felt about Book Seven when she gave a reading at Buckingham Palace in honor of the Queen’s 80th birthday, she said, “I am feeling sad as it is the last one. But so far, so good.” When asked about the book’s progress, she said, “I’m doing well I think. You can never really tell till you get near the end. I am not quite there yet.”

Unfortunately, the upcoming Harry Potter book, the last in the series, looks to be the bloodiest of them all. In an interview broadcast today on Britain’s “Richard and Judy” show on Channel 4, Rowling admitted that she will kill off two characters who she ‘did not intend to die’ in the final installment of the series. When pressed to name who would die, Rowling demurred.

“I’m not going to commit myself because I don’t want the hate mail apart from anything else.”


When asked about the fate of Harry Potter himself, Rowling said cryptically, “I have never been tempted to kill him off before the final [book] because I’ve always planned seven books, and I want to finish on seven books.”

Rowling also said that she wrote the last chapter of the series in 1990, but had hidden it away. In view of changing who dies, she admitted that the final chapter has been changed “very slightly.”

Rowling also admitted that she had “boxed herself in” because of the plots she wrote in the past, saying that she now has to tie up those loose strings.

Even though Rowling refused to say who dies, she did mention that one main character’s death sentence was commuted.

“A price has to be paid,” Rowling pointed out. “We are dealing with pure evil here. They don’t target extras do they? They go for the main characters. Well, I do.”

With a fortune estimated by Forbes magazine last year at more than $1 billion, the Harry Potter book series has made Rowling the richest woman in Britain, richer than even the Queen of England. Worldwide sales of the last book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, surpassed 10 million copies on the first day it was made available in July, 2005. The series has sold more than 300 million copies worldwide.

So, dear readers, who do you think will die in this book?

In my opinion, Harry Potter will certainly die. In interviews, Rowling has hinted several times this would happen, for practical reasons, if nothing else.

“I can completely understand, however, the mentality of an author who thinks, ‘Well, I’m gonna kill them off because that means there can be no non-author written sequels. So it will end with me, and after I’m dead and gone they won’t be able to bring back the character’.”

But in addition to Harry, who do you think will die? I think that more than two characters will die, because Rowling did say that she will kill off two characters who she ‘did not intend to die’ .. there could be more whom she did intend to kill off who still die in the final book. Remember, this is going to be a war.

That said, the most obvious possibility is Voldemort. It stands to reason that, if Harry dies, Voldemort, Harry’s nemesis whose fate is somehow tied to Harry, will also die. But there were hints in Book 6 that their fates might not be intertwined as written in earlier books. If that’s the case, Voldemort might survive even though Harry dies. Besides being an upsetting situation for her readers, (Harry won’t die a hero, for example), what does this outcome say about Rowling’s view of the world, a world where good dies while evil survives — or worse, triumphs?

The other obvious possible fatalities are either Ron or Hermione. If either one of them dies — especially before Harry dies, how do you think that would affect the plot, and how would that change the end of the book? I’ll certainly have more thoughts on this topic as time goes by, but right now, I am curious as to who you think will die, why you think so, and how you see those deaths affecting the book and its ultimate message.

I’m also curious to know; in the wake of this upsetting (but not unexpected) news, how many Harry Potter support groups will be formed?

Sources:

BBC (supposedly includes audio, somewhere on that link)

NYTimes

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Comments

  1. #1 No One of Consequence
    June 27, 2006

    Prof. McGonagal and Hagrid seem like good choices to die. Rowling has always had a thing for Hagrid, so it would be bigger deal for her to kill him off than it would be for the fans.

    Dumbledore may die (for real this time), or he may be the one that kills Harry and Voldemort. Likewise I could see Snape killing off Harry which in turn kills off Voldemort.

    I doubt that Ron or Hermione die.

  2. #2 No One of Consequence
    June 27, 2006

    …although there are so many Weasley’s involved in the fight, statistically one of them is likely to die.

  3. #3 John Wilkins
    June 27, 2006

    Harry will accidentally kill Hagrid, Ron and Hermione while trying for a Transfiguration Spell as a Deatheater to infiltrate Voldemort’s inner circle. He will become allies with Voldemort, and they will slay Snape for being too wussy. Then everybody will die except for Malfoy, who will be turned irrevocably into a slug and be kept in a jar in Harry’s bedroom in the new palace.

    At least, that’s how I would write it…

  4. #4 Corkscrew
    June 27, 2006

    I think Snape will likely cop it at some point, probably going out in a blaze of unexpected heroism. Maybe saving Harry’s life or something like that. It’s just about obvious that he’s a good guy, and Rowling needs to redeem him in some suitably spectacular fashion.

  5. #5 pablo
    June 27, 2006

    My son has a theory that Harry himself is one of Voldemort’s horcruxes. It makes a kind of sense when you think of how some of V’s powers were transferred into Harry on the night of his attempted murder. And in the battle at the Ministry of Magic, doesn’t Voldemort actually move his consciousness into Harry at one point. Sounds like horcrux mischief to me. And if so, then Harry would have to die in order to defeat Voldemort since part of V’s soul is within Harry. I think that is why Rowling waited until the 2nd to last book to define the horcruxes — so that no one would figure that angle any sooner than possible.

  6. #6 Alejandro
    June 27, 2006

    I vote for Hagrid (because it will continue a pattern set by Black and Dunmbeldore’s deaths, all Harry’s elder friends/mentors) and Snape (sacrifying his life to save Harry’s, out of his love for Harry’s mother. Yes, he was in love with her, no doubt about it.)

    This leaves the fate of Voldemort uncertain. Perhaps he will lose all his power like he did when trying to kill baby Harry, only this time in an irreversible way?

  7. #7 ThePolynomial
    June 27, 2006

    I’m with corkscrew and alejandro on the Snape self-sacrifice. I also don’t think Harry will die, unless it’s because he’s a horcrux, which is entirely possible. Although even if Harry turns out to be a horcrux, I think it’s more likely that both of them will, Harry and Voldemort, will live on, continuing to exist rather than concluding with a world so radically changed from the good/evil struggle that’s always been present. Hagrid may go, too, though. He’s always been a fair candidate.

  8. #8 TheRustyAnchor
    June 27, 2006

    I REALLY like that horcrux/Harry hypothesis. I never thought of that before. That makes sense in terms of fulfilling the one cannot live while the other lives thing. Harry might have to make the decision to sacrifice himself in order to rid the world of Voldemort.

  9. #9 Anne-Marie
    June 27, 2006

    I think that Neville is going to turn out to have an important heroic role in the ending, and it seems likely that he could end up dying as a result, it would seem like agood result for his character to transition to respected martyr after being ridiculed for so many years…

  10. #10 sciencewoman
    June 27, 2006

    This seems like sort of morbid conversation (even if they are fictional characters), but I am going to add Ginny to the list of potential casualties. She has been important in several books and is now Harry’s girlfriend – an intimicacy surpassing that of Ron and Hermione. But I also think Snape should be redemmed, so I like the self-sacrifice idea. And I think Harry and Voldemort will go out together, as Rowling originally intended.

  11. #11 Eric Irvine
    June 27, 2006

    About a year ago I re-read all the Harry Potter books to date; my conclusions from those readings is that Harry will die because he is a horcrux. This is also consistent with the prophecy, “For neither can live while the other survives”. The quotation shows that Harry will sacrifice himself to finally kill voldemort, as he is the final piece that could bring voldemort back.

    In addition, Snape is a good guy and will redeem himself in some way – maybe through death; Malfoy is also in a similar situation.

    But what “unexpected” people will die? I don’t think it matters much; therefore, I would say that they are low-profile characters, Ron’s sister, or something.

  12. #12 Blarg
    June 28, 2006

    Hmmm…

    1. I too deduced that Harry is a Horcrux (Geez what is wrong with phylactery anyhow, doesn’t JKR play D&D?) and thus must die.

    2. I further think that V will be destroyed but will come back and Harry will either kill himself to terminate V. Possibly becoming the first magical suicide bomber. Or worse for V Harry will self-terminate in a way to make V a muggle. Fate worse than death for him.

    3. I do not think Harry has the skills needed to find the horcuxes and will actually end up being trained by house elves as they have been living with, and thus learning all the various families magical secrets, for thousands of years.

    4. I also think that Harry will join the push to free the house elves and that house elves will be instrumental in tracking down the various horcrux.

    5. It is hard to say who else will die. If I were to write it I would have it fall out this way. Everyone in the core group dies except for Hermione and Ginny. Hermione then takes her rightful place as the Dark Lady of all magic, crushes all resistance, and takes Ginny, Cho, The Patil Twins, and Fleur as her imeprial consorts. She will then rule the world forever from her Seductive Tower of Infinite Knowledge, which is made from magical tomes itself and is bond together by spells fueled by the unending torture of every Neocon, Sexist, and Homophobe in the world. I of course will pour Hermione’s wine for her and bring her he spells books, whips, etc as she requires them…

  13. #13 Paul
    June 28, 2006

    Harry can’t be a horcrux. That would mean that after Voldemort killed the Potters that he turned Harry into a horcrux and then tried to kill him. That makes no sense.

    Not that I think he won’t die (I hope he doesn’t) but it won’t be for that reason.

  14. #14 pablo
    June 29, 2006

    Well, if the Harry is a horcrux hypothesis (theory?) is true, then if may have been that V took advantage of a misfire to ensure his survival. If he could not kill the one who was fated to kill him, then what better use to make of him (Harry) than to turn him into a vessel for preserving his (V’s) life. The murder didn’t work, so he went to Plan B. That is, he didn’t start out to make Harry a horcrux, but he managed to turn a defeat to his advantage after the fact. Just speculatin’.

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