Which Harry Potter character is going to bite it in Book #6?
I'm a latecomer to the whole Harry Potter phenomenon. In fact, I didn't even read the first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone until sometime around Christmas last year. I found it quite entertaining, although a bit too much a children's book for my taste. (Yes, I know that The Hobbit was a children's book; but somehow it didn't seem as much like one.) Before that, I had no idea what the books were about and any mention of Harry Potter characters or any Harry Potter analogies would go right over my head. Then, I continued the series, and I was impressed with how each book built on the last and was better and more complex than the last. (Well, maybe with the exception of the fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which dragged a bit in places but was still on par with its predecessor, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.) The most recent book in the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix , was without a doubt the best in the series so far, much richer and more emotionally resonant than the previous books. (The chapter near the end in which Aldus Dumbledore confesses what he knows about Harry's destiny was worth the price of the book alone.) I blew through it on my recent trip to the West Coast, finishing it between the two plane rides, one of which was horribly prolonged by various SNAFUs, and finally watched the movies too.
So, in a manner of around four months, I became a Harry Potter addict, just like almost everyone else in the English-speaking world. Better late than never, I guess. My wife has even become a fan and is working on the most recent book, hopefully to finish it before the new one comes out. I don't plan on camping out at a bookstore the night it's released to get my copy at the stroke of midnight the night of July 16 (my secretary does, though). However, I'll certainly get a copy within a few days after the book's release and start reading. You might even notice a slowdown or even cessation of blogging here for a few days until I can finish it.
There has been much speculation about which character is going to take the dirt nap in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, given that J.K. Rowling has stated that a major character would die in this offering. Indeed, there has been a lot of betting on which character will die, with the odds-on favorite at present being Albus Dumbledore, the Headmaster of Hogwarts. I had been planning on writing about this for a while, but somehow other topics got in the way and I never did. Then, I came across Coturnix's speculations about who would be the most likely to die, and it reminded me to get off my butt and start prognosticating! And just because his analysis is spot-on and I agree with him isn't going to stop me from speculating myself, either.
It's going to be Dumbledore.
With everyone else these days predicting it'll be Dumbledore, you'll just have to take my word for it that I made that prediction a couple of months ago, but I did. He's the most likely character to bite it for one simple reason: The Harry Potter novels are, in essence, a coming-of-age story. In all coming of age stories, the hero must reach a point where he has to stand on his own against his foe, without mentors, without help, without anyone to fall back on, especially his wise mentor/father figure. This will be the sixth of seven planned novels, which means that Harry's final battle, in which he must face and defeat the evil Lord Valdemort, will occur in the next book. To clear the decks for this final confrontation, Dumbledore has to go. As Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda both had to die before Luke could face Darth Vader and finally defeat him, so will it be with Dumbledore before Harry can face Valdemort for the final time and defeat him once and for all. I really like Dumbledore and will really hate to see him die (in fact, he's probably my favorite character in the novels), but for Harry to finally stand on his own as a young man, Dumbledore can't be around in Book #7 to save him. Coturnix agrees:
Indeed. The only way Dumbledore isn't going to die at the end of #6 is if Rowling kills him off in the beginning of #7. There's even some evidence from the betting that is suggestive that somebody has some inside information that it's going to be Dumbledore who dies, although there has also been speculation that Severus Snape is the one who will die. (Like Coturnix, I tend to discount that, because Snape is such a disliked character that many fans would probably be happy if it were him. I suppose there's an outside chance that Rowling could have him go down nobly, demonstrating to Harry why Dumbledore continued to trust him despite his past, but I doubt that will happen.)He [Dumbledore] has to die in #6 so nobody expects him to help Harry in #7. Even if JKR lets him travel far away, readers will expect him to come back in the nick of time. Even if JKR makes Dumbledore old, sick and out of his mind, the readers would expect him to get sane, strong and healthy enough to help Harry. Old Albus has to go. I'll be mad and sad when it happens, but I cannot see how else can JKR go on to finish the series otherwise (except perhaps kill Dumbledore at the BEGINNING of #7 which is the same thing in a sense).
To finish up, though, here's a special bonus prediction from me (you heard it here first): I predict that Severus Snape will be appointed Headmaster of Hogwarts after the death of Dumbledore--at Dumbledore's personal recommendation in his will. Remember that, despite Snape's shady history as a Death Eater (a servant of Valdemort), Dumbledore has reemphasized several times that he trusts Snape (even though he won't explain why, leaving his reasons mysterious), and this would be the ultimate way to show his trust. It would also make sense in that Valdemort is rising and one could speculate that Dumbledore would consider Snape, who has always had an interest in the Dark Arts, the perfect one to defend Hogwarts. Face it, if the other senior-most professor at Hogwarts, Minerva McGonagall, who is the head of Harry's House (Gryffindor) and is probably as friendly to Harry as Dumbledore, were made Headmaster, Hogwarts would remain a cozy, supportive place for Harry. If Harry is truly to stand on his own, his remaining major support other than Dumbledore (Hogwarts) has to be made much less hospitable. I know, I know, something like that happened already when Dumbledore was temporarily displaced by the Ministry of Magic as Headmaster, but he came back and Hogwarts was restored to its status quo. This time Dumbledore won't be able to return. Putting Harry Potter's least favorite professor in charge would add another element forcing Harry to stand on his own--particularly if Snape turns out at the end to be still a Death Eater. (I suppose whether you think Snape is still a Death Eater or not depends on how good a judge of character you think Dumbledore is.)
Hmmm. Maybe I should try my hand at writing fiction.
And if my predictions are incorrect? Hey, it's only a novel. You think you have better predictions? Lay 'em on me now (with explanation/justification) in the comments section!