HP review

Anna Clare McDuff amcduff at math.sunysb.edu
Fri Jul 4 10:09:49 EDT 2003


On Thu, 3 Jul 2003, Robyn Starkey wrote:

> The Adams perspective is not new; every time a JKR book comes out, someone
> does this particular critique. I thought the "queer" article was a lot more
> original. The thing about those "Rowling is a racist/classist" articles
> that I find really narrow is that they don't ever look at the context of
> children's literature and Rowling's popularity. There are plenty of PC
> books out there, but kids (and other readers) really hate having the
> message preached at them at the expense of the the story.

	Absolutely, and I think that holds true for propaganda of whatever
stripe. And if a story is sufficently real and involving to catch the
imagination then it is going to provide fuel for far more than one
interpretation and it will thus stretch far beyond the author's
intentions.  Case in point, Louisa May Alcott's works, many of which were
intended by the author to be female empowerment propaganda, but are so
full of life and charm and great stories that they are taken to the bosoms
of all sorts of people, including some anti-feminists who read them as
stories about submissive girls who are Respectful Of Authority. Good
stories take on a life of their own...

 I think it is
> ludicrous to call Rowling a racist; it ignores the whole theme of the
> books, that making judgements about people's heritage is wrong. What do
> they thing the mudblood/pureblood/squib business is about, if not a
> questioning about race? Given that the books deal with these themes within
> their own context, how, exactly is realist multiculturalism supposed to fit in?

	Again, I agree. Whenever I see arguments like, say, the one about
there being no disabled people in the Potterverse, I suspect the author of
those arguments of not having read the books very closely. Because while
it would be very hard to have our Muggle sorts of disabilities in the
Wizarding world, owing to all those medi-wizards and their bone regrowing,
nose reattaching etc etc potions and spells, there clearly *are* other
forms of disability present including those present from birth, like that
suffered by the Squibs (who are born to Wizards but without any magical
powers) and those caused later on, like that suffered by Neville's parents
(torture victims) or Remus Lupin (who was bitten by a werewolf). And I
really like what Rowling does with these constructs, she uses them in very
sophisticated ways, just like she does with the various Magical races
(which I understand to be Witch/wizard, goblin, centaur, and house elf,
these four races do not get on with each other very well and the racial
politics of the Wizarding world is very complicated and explosive, and
then of course there is the interaction with the Muggle world on top of
that which is also very very murky. And that's not even mentioning the
politics involving Giants and Vampires and what have you...) the Wizarding
world is seen to be sometimes discriminatory and unfair in its dealings
with werewolves and squibs and Neville's struggles with his love for, and
shame of, his parents are heartbreaking. In short, Rowling doesn't take
the easy way out. She's doing something really complicated, showing a very
complicated society from all sorts of points of view, and it's not
something that can be easily summed up...

	Anna

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