The Harry Potter Guide to Misunderstandings, Disagreements and Apologies

With the tools of a wizard comes great responsibility. Ever since you daydreamed about being part of the magical community, you coveted a wand.  It sounds wonderful to be able to turn “desire” into “will” and make objects magically obey, transfigure themselves, fly, appear, or disappear with either verbal or nonverbal spell-casting. We also know what can develop when our “will” is directed at people. Isn’t the greatest power, for the magical and non-magical world, words, especially the right words? They must be well-chosen to balance relationships, and to suppress the darker side of emotions, such as anger, jealously, hatred and vengeance, that appear in startling ways. It takes great strength of character to admit, “I was wrong” and to say, “I’m sorry.” This month, we will see what Harry Potter and his friends do when confronted with misunderstandings, disagreements and the need to apologize.  

Problems often begin through a misunderstanding; perhaps the words were not well-said and, as a result, through tone and implication, misinterpreted. The ground immediately shifts from solid to rocky. Agree? (As readers, we can evaluate the confrontation and say, “Oh, Ron, why did you say that?” or “Hermione, you are so focused on making a point that you forgot to consider a person’s feelings.” And isn’t that someone usually her best friend, Ron? ) It takes conversation and questions for Harry, Ron and Hermione to discover Hagrid’s gruff demeanor isn’t directed at them; instead, it deals with a personal matter: Aragog, the spider, is dying. Kindness is needed, as well as comforting words of sympathy.   Sometimes, we need to say, “Is there anything we can do?” in order to help guide a friend through their feelings.  Hagrid realizes it and says, “But thanks fer offerin’, Hermione…It means a lot…I’m sorry I’ve bin—yeh know—I’ve jus’ bin worried abou’ Aragog….” Yes, actions and words do make a difference. “After that, the atmosphere lightened considerably…By the time Hagrid waved them off of the premises at dusk, he looked quite cheerful….”

In the sixth year, you may recall, the interplay just between Harry, Ron and Hermoine goes well beyond a goodwill jest between friends. It all begins with an act of dishonesty. “If you ask me,” said Harry quietly (to Hermione,) “McLaggen looks like he was Confunded this morning.” As we know, that one problem escalates beyond a mere disagreement. “Ron rounded on Hermione, imitating her voice. ‘You added Felix Felicis to Ron’s juice this morning, that’s why he saved everything! See! I can save goals with help, Hermione.’” From an outside perspective, we can understand both points of view and admire Harry for remaining neutral and not taking sides; yet, with each page, their behavior becomes more childish. Hermione laughs at “Ron’s disastrous first attempt at human transfiguration” while “Ron retaliate[s] by doing a cruel but accurate impression of Hermoine jumping up and down in her seat every time Professor McGonagall ask[s] a question.” By taking her anger one step further, Hermoine invites Cormac McLaggen to Professor Slughorn’s Christmas party. “Harry [is] left to ponder in silence the depths to which girls would sink to get revenge.” (Yes, you and I both know there’s another reason Ron and Hermoine are arguing. In February, the Harry Potter Guide will discuss the feelings and woes of several hearts in “Dating Ginny Weasley.”)

As readers, we enjoy the companionship and loyalty between the trio, knowing from a personal standpoint how hard it is to balance independence, voice personal opinions and make good choices in our diversified friendships; however, there comes a point when anger loses its purpose, and the steps toward reconciliation, although difficult, are necessary. Does it really matter who steps forward and apologizes? …No!

Even the best of friends squabble and say words that are later regretted. The ease of friendship may return quite simply in the Gryffindor common room over homework. Ron, peering at his parchment asks, “How d’you spell ‘belligerent’?” Hermione agrees the charm in his Spell-Check quill must be wearing off, and kindly offers to fix it. “Ron sinks back into his chair, rubbing his eyes warily” and says, “I love you, Hermione.”

With grievances forgotten, these three must stick together to defend themselves against one key adversary. It will take a review of all seven books and perusing through a “Hogwarts History” to explain Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy’s challenging relationship. Next month, the Harry Potter Guide will feature “Handling Malfoys, Crabbes and Goyles.”