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By entering Snape’s memory, Harry gets a glimpse of the Marauders, Snape, and his mother when they were in their O.W.L. year. What was your impression of them? Did it change your previous perceptions of the characters at all?

10 scales if posted by Sunday 17th March, 23:59 HOL time.
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It's hard to remember but I'm sure it must have as it's our first real chance to draw our own conclusions about James in particular. Up until this point we've only had hearsay from other characters about what he was like and that tends towards making him sound like a saint or the total opposite. This contrasts interestingly with the only other fragment of direct speech we've had from him up until now: when Harry remembers him ordering Lily to run in Prisoner of Azkaban. I do remember feeling something of Harry's dismay after this passage as it really tarnished James for me for a long while as his conduct wasn't at all like the vague, heroic image I'd built up. The same isn't really true of Lily and the other 3 boys: we know slightly more about them (or maybe feel we do in Lily's case - her springing to the defense here is at least consistent with the main act that defines her in the series). Their actions make sense or at least show some emotional continuity based on what we know of them as adults. While Peter, Snape, Remus and Sirius might not be fine, upstanding citizens (or alternatively out and out villains in the case of the first two) here, their reactions mesh better with their flaws or strengths in later life.  Lacking the chance to see more of James in the same way means his reputation, standing with us and the amount of contextual leeway we're willing to give him is really at the whim of the plot, even more than most characters. He's clearly a complex person (and yes, bit of a jerk) with a lot of growing up to do but we just don't get to develop a sense of him and his personality outside of this moment which probably works against him.

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I remember this part because it was such a shock to read Snape's point of view of James Potter, the Marauders, and Lily.  And it wasn't a thinking viewpoint, it was something which showed the 'picture' of what was happening, with the attendant feelings. What I mostly remember is my reaction to how character of James Potter is shown to be so different than what had yet been written.

Up to now in the books, it was only Harry's point of view which was available, and even though, by this book in the series, I really didn't much care for Harry Potter (I so much agreed with Snape saying, later one, that he is a liar and a cheat), the story was still written from his viewpoint. He had put his father on a pedestal, and I think all the Marauders (except for Pettigrew) on a pedestal, and suddenly that pedestal is on sand, or is cracking or,  if nothing else, challenged for veracity.  James Potter appears to be a bit of a jerk (as Sky wrote) and definitely is shown to have some unadmirable (if not dishonourable) tendencies.

 

edit: By the way, I did like Harry Potter (the person) by the end of the 7th book. He stopped acting like such a jerk and started being a nice and 'authentic' person, taking responsibility for his choices. I wonder ... was the change because he was hanging around Hermione so much, while in hiding? She's rather awesome.  :)

Edited by Prof. Tarma Amelia Black

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