Harry Potter and the Curious Protaganist


I know I'm late to the game when it comes to Harry Potter, but at the
same time it would feel sort of crazy not to talk about this series,
given its power over the world of kids literature. I liked
the Harry Potter books; they're compulsively readable—good versus evil
will always have a compelling force. And for American readers like
myself, they offered up a distinctly British feeling with their insistence
on squashy armchairs and a general sort of rounded comfort that we just
don't offer here. But what's most unusual and (to me) interesting about
it is the nature of its main character.
Harry Potter is not a reader.
He's not particularly a rebel. He's a regular boy, a boy who embodies
some vision of what a boy could be in his dreams:  secretly special and
marked for greatness; effortlessly able to excel in a sport; not
particularly interested in the life of the mind or academics. So many
people who weren't readers were inspired to read these books, and I think
his regular-ness was one of the things that appealed. The vast majority
of classic children's literature centers around the outsider, and while
Harry is the outsider in his Aunt and Uncle's home, their world is not
truly the world of the book. The world of the book? Hogwarts, where
Harry is, essentially, Big Man on Campus—popular, good at sports, gets
away without doing much homework. And people everywhere reading it were
electrified—it's so interesting to me. What is it we connect to when we
read a book, or identify with a particular character? There was much to
like in the series, Rowling's inventive ideas (the living map, Hogwarts
itself, the sorting hat) are delightful, but I am convinced that the
source of people's love has something to do with their connection with
Harry, a moment of being at one with the most popular, best-liked guy
of all. It's such a curiously bittersweet desire, wanting to be with the popular kid.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.