Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Epilogue to Deathly Hallows

Since finishing Harry Potter 7, I've perused postings on a few fan and book review sites, and there seems to be a lot of unhappiness about the Epilogue. General complaints are that there is not enough information given, that too much time has elapsed between the end of the book per se and the Epilogue, that the ending is too trite/boring, that J.K. Rowling couldn't possibly have written it because it's so unlike the rest of the series, etc.

I'd like to say a few words in defense of the Epilogue!

First of all, I think it does what Rowling needed to do in the series, and that's truly close the door on the story. By implying that Harry has had 19 years free of nasty incidents, she makes it difficult to impossible for any other author (or even a tempted self) to carry on the story from the end of book 7.

Second, the Epilogue tells us what it needs to about Harry--that he is living a happy, family-centered life. This is all he ever wanted! He is clearly a good and thoughtful father and husband, a good brother-in-law, a good friend, and a good godfather to his nephew Teddy. Family was always the thing that was missing from Harry's life--Hogwarts, the Weasleys, Dumbledore, and Sirius were the closest approximations for him, and all but the Weasleys were taken from his life way too early. He often mused about what his life would have been like if James and Lily had lived, or if he'd truly been able to connect with Dumbledore on a deeper level, or if Sirius had not been in prison and had been able to fill the godfather role to Harry for his whole life--instead of just for that brief period.

FInally, I read all sorts of comments that wanted to know what kinds of jobs Harry, Ginny, Hermione, and Ron had, what happened to other characters (Luna, the rest of the Weasleys), what happened in the intervening 19 years, etc. It seems to me that no amount of detail would make every reader happy, other than an entire additional novel (that would still leave questions). We know everything we need to know. Remember, folks, this is a work of fiction! Use your imagination and decide what kind of life you think they have lived up to now, and where (at a quite young 37) they will go from here.

Finally, Rowling does give us one intriguing clue that I have not seen mentioned in other Epilogue discussions--both Harry and Ron drove cars to the station to bring their children to the Hogwarts Express. This seems to me to imply that they have both adopted a more Muggle-friendly (if not oriented) lifestyle. Perhaps they are living "on the economy" as they say of military folks who live off-base.

I loved the series, loved the last book, cried numerous times, and felt that the Epilogue was the perfect ending.

And, since I have spent the last 6 weeks rereading the 3,341 pages of the first 6 books, and then spent pretty much two whole days reading the 7th book, I am also glad to return to the Muggle world myself. Places to go, things to do, people to see!

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