Planning for Potter's growing problem
May 19, 2003 at 11:21 AM ET
HPANA (via Guardian)
Thanks to Geri for this Guardian article:
Harry Potter has already become a reassuring symbol of stability in a shaky world and the industry Rowling started is now so vast that the onus on her is not to take a leap into the dark, but to deliver another slice of the same lucrative cake.
But some things will have to change. Harry is growing up. Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry in the first two films of the books, was said to have run into continuity problems when his voice broke. With the fictional Harry, the continuity can be managed more smoothly, but since the hero starts The Order of the Phoenix at the age of 15 and will be 18 at the end of the series, his growing maturity presents a challenge to Rowling's inventive, but essentially naive style.
Thankfully, innocence is no longer enforced so relentlessly in books aimed at children. Rowling's rival in the renaissance of children's literature, Philip Pullman, struck out from tradition by allowing his young heroes to find sexual love together. The dénouement to the Dark Materials trilogy was superbly moving, as Will and Lyra, who were only about 12 years old, consummated their love. But that also brought to an end the quest that had sustained the books, and Will had to return to ordinary life without Lyra and without the enchantments that had fuelled their journey. The suggestion was that when you attain fleshly experience, you lose other kinds of magic.
Many children's writers skip over the issue altogether, leaving their protagonists in a sort of limbo, neither quite child nor quite adult. Tolkien is the great exemplar of that style, in which his heroes fall in love, marry and have children but never actually lay a finger on one another. Rowling could do something similar, allowing Harry to focus on his heroic tasks until the very end, when he could, say, slip into everlasting union with Cho Chang, and Ron into perfect harmony with Hermione, with the happy-ever-after purity of old fairy tales.
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