The Potterverse (was; DWJ in Israeli newspaper)

Rowland, Jennifer A B jennifer.rowland at imperial.ac.uk
Mon Feb 23 07:02:53 EST 2004


Minnow was slightly curious:
> but presumably the non-magic-using
> (muggle) parents of that magical child notice what their 
> child is doing, or nobody would know the child was magical 
> and it wouldn't end up in the magic-using school.  

Ah, no, y'see, there's an enchanted pen in the Ministry of Magic that writes down the name of every magical baby born in Britain and then a letter is automatically sent to them when they reach 11. (Honest.)

> If a large point is made that the  majority of the
> population, the muggles, aren't meant to know at all that 
> magic exists and works, how is the secret kept when a 
> magical ten-year-old starts to manifest as such in front 
> of muggle parents and siblings? 

I think the parents and siblings are just asked to keep it secret. There is a brief aside somewhere about how much more difficult it used to be when even the parents weren't supposed to know, I think, but that would have been in the days of persecution of witches, when Social Services wasn't around to care.

> As I have understood it, Potter has muggle Wicked Step-Parents and
> sibling(s).  I have also gathered that they are deeply 
> ashamed because he is a magic-user. If nobody knows about magic 
> except the magic-users, how does that work?  

This is the particular family- his friend Hermione is from a muggle family, and they are pleased for her and baffled by the whole thing. The Dursleys would be just as ashamed if he was gay, or wanted to be an artist, or was out of the ordinary in any way. They are horrified at the thought of any of the people on their nasty suburban street seeing owls flying to the house, or people in cloaks, or anything that might suggest that they are A Bit Odd.

> How is the school (and its associated lake full of mer-folk, 
> as I found out by reading those four or five pages the other 
> week) concealed  from local muggle poachers/villagers/hang-
> gliders/what-have-you?  Does nobody notice that there are 
> gaps in the maps (and who delivers the milk)?  

There are Unplottable Charms, which stop it being on the map. I think there are also don't-notice-me/walk-around-me charms. As for the milk, glod knows.

> Or is it just that the magic-users spend their entire time mind-wiping the 
> muggles on a day-to-day basis?  If they have to do that, I can't see how 
> they have time to do anything else!  

It seems to be fairly unusual for mind-wipes to be done- the magical people seem to lead a quite restricted life, really, staying out of muggles' way in small wizardly areas, or travelling between them by magical means (like a Floo Network that allows you to step into one fireplace and out of another) so they never meet muggles. It seems to be mostly malicious pranksters who want to affect the muggle world.

> What's more, for all of me they can be as noble and
> heroic as they like, they are utterly Wrong, because interfering with
> people's minds, as I may have mentioned in discussion about 
> Susan Cooper and the Light in her books making people forget things, is to 
> me a simple wrongness I am never comfortable with.

Yes- there's one book where a magical event is happening at a campsite and the wizards keep betraying themselves in front of the manager and he keeps having his mind wiped. At the very least, he's going to think he's been having blackouts for a fortnight. It's not nice.

Jennifer

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