Sunday, May 25, 2014

An American reading the British editions: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

(SPOILER ALERT: I’m sharing details of the Harry Potter series in this post, and in every post on the last Sunday of the month for the next four months. Just so you know!)

I’m just an American girl reading the Harry Potter British editions. This month: Prisoner of Azkaban! Check out my posts about Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets before reading on…

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
First Line: “Harry Potter was a highly unusual boy in many ways.”
British vs. American English: I’ve been overseas so there are some words/phrases I read in these versions and don’t even recognize as different. Like car park vs. parking lot or jumper vs. sweater. But here are a few differences that popped out to me. 

(British edition word/phrase = interpretation)
torch = flashlight

darned = re-sewn
pop my clogs = die

sharpish = quickly
wrong-foot = to catch off balance

shirty = angry, irritated
do his nut = lose his temper

scarpered = to flee

Laugh-Worthy Moment:
"Professor Trelawney rustled past.

'Would anyone like me to help them interpret the shadowy portents within their Orb?' she murmured over the clinking of her bangles.
'I don’t need help,' Ron whispered. 'It’s obvious what this means. There’s going to be loads of fog tonight.'" (page 219)

Cry-Worthy Moment: “You think the dead we have loved ever truly leave us? You think that we don’t recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble? Your father is alive in you, Harry, and shows himself most plainly when you have need of him. How else could you produce that particular Patronus? Prongs rode again last night.” –Professor Dumbledore (page 312)

Notable Quote: “The spell I am going to try and teach you is highly advanced magic, Harry—well beyond Ordinary Wizarding Level. It is called the Patronus Charm.” –Professor Lupin (page 175)

Last Line:  “And grinning broadly at the look of horror on Uncle Vernon’s face, Harry set off towards the station exit, Hedwig rattling along in front of him, for what looked like a much better summer than the last.”

In a late night, solo birthday celebration, Harry turns thirteen at the start of Prisoner of Azkaban. After an incident with Uncle Vernon’s sister Marge, which foreshadows one of the themes of PoA, Harry takes a ride on the Knight Bus and meets the Minister of Magic at the Leaky Cauldron. Not long later, Harry learns that Sirius Black, a crazed escapee of the highly secure wizard prison, is after Harry and plans to kill him to open the door for Voldemort’s return to power.

Throughout the book, Harry learns more about Sirius Black, his friendship with Harry’s father, James, and their old school friends. Through conversations both including Harry and overheard by him, he learns a great deal about his father’s school days. However, most of the information is shared during the climax, which makes for a drawn out scene in the Shrieking Shack. But Rowling keeps it interesting with Lupin barging in, then Snape changing the dynamic once more before the reveal of Peter Pettigrew (formally known as Scabbers). Also, the information itself is intriguing! The story that Harry heard of Black, that he betrayed James and Lily, sold them out to Voldemort then was so distraught about Voldemort’s downfall that Black killed Pettigrew and thirteen innocent people before being thrown in Azkaban—well, turns out that’s not true. In fact it was Pettigrew who betrayed the Potters, handed them over to Voldemort, then killed thirteen innocent people and faked his own death when Black hunted him down to hold him accountable. Whew.

In the Shrieking Shack, the reader sees one facet of Black’s character as he’s focused on revenge and destroying Pettigrew. Black has been without human contact for so many years and spent so much of it as a dog (as he’s an unregistered Animagus) that he acts almost animal. It’s Professor Lupin who is understanding and level-headed throughout the whole ordeal. Since it’s revealed that he's a werewolf (to which Rowling left a trail of expertly crafted clues), it’s refreshing that he rises above the stereotypes and is a great man. We get hints at Sirius' great character as well, but with his focus on revenge/Pettigrew for the entire book, it makes sense that they're just hints for the time being. James Potter certainly had an interesting group of school friends.

Year Three was a tough year for Harry, Ron and Hermione’s friendship. As kids grow up, they change and sometimes grow apart. Luckily the trio doesn’t grow apart but they do have their share of disagreements. In Scabbers vs. Crookshanks, Ron jumps to the semi-logical conclusion that Crookshanks finally ate Scabbers but Hermione points out there are other possibilities and Ron has no proof. Harry doesn’t take sides, but when Hermione tells McGonagall about Harry’s new Firebolt from an anonymous source, Harry is naturally frustrated that his new broom is confiscated. Ron takes it as a personal affront that the Firebolt will be stripped down and the trio spends the winter months in disagreement. It’s Hagrid who brings them together again with Buckbeak’s trial and appeal because of Malfoy’s injury back in the fall. In the end, the trio comes together in the face of a bigger tragedy. However, I think Hermione’s protection of Harry regarding the Firebolt incident had a positive effect on his general reluctance to adhere to the rules while Hermione slapping Malfoy is proof that she’s lightened up a bit and is more willing to stand and fight for her friends than be shackled to the rules.

In the end, Harry emerges from Prisoner of Azkaban with deeper knowledge of his parents and their friends as well as feeling that he has a family connection within the wizarding world, as Sirius Black is his godfather.

Up next: the first giant-sized volume, Goblet of Fire!

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