Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Star summary: 

5-- absolutely astoundingly rich

Bottom line? This is an odd-numbered HP book, meaning it is intensely psychological. We are all up in Harry's angst, identity crises, and confusion. Alchemically speaking, this book represents the "black" (nigriedo) stage, which is all about breaking the character down to prepare it for purification from of all impurities to create a pure and beautiful Gold in the end. This book is full of Harry being stripped of every part of his identity, with everything that he holds dear being taken from him in some measure: his identity as a wizard, as a Quiddich-player, as a part of the Weasley family, as "just like his father," as an honest and sane person (the newspaper reports that he is attention-seeking and slightly deranged), future career goals, and even as a hero are all questioned. Everything he loves about Hogwarts, which he often says is the first place he ever felt truly happy, is taken from him, one by one: Hagrid, freedom of speech, respect of his school-mates, friendship of his room-mates, his relationship with his beloved headmaster, Quiddich games, leisure time, even a good view of his father. The death of his god-father at the series' end is truly heart-breaking; a final, huge loss. He learns that he is a marked man in more ways than one, and this new sense of identity isolates him more than ever. However, the book ends with a sweet realization that he is not entirely alone; he is loved and surrounded by friends who will so their best to stand by him.

Cautions?

Talking points:
-- Rita Skeeter & the Daily Prophet-- Rowling is obviously satirizing our "free" press. What does this story communicate to us about how the media works and why it reports the stories it does? (to sell, to present the image which the government desires to present) Also discuss the power of the press; the Daily Prophet's undermining of Harry & Dumbledore was very useful in keeping the public oblivious to Voldemort's return.
-- Harry is very angry throughout most of the book. Why? At root, he is angry with Professor Dumbledore, who has not chosen to explain very much to him. In the end, his ignoring of Dumbledore's instructions brings more pain and destruction than he ever thought possible (the death of Sirius). Compare and contrast this to our trust in a God whom we often do not understand. While Dumbledore's plan was partly flawed, our God's NEVER is.
-- In light of Dumbledore's words at the close of book 4, regarding a choice between what is easy and what is right, discuss Harry's choice to not practice Occlumancy.
-- How has Snape's hatred towards Harry's father crippled him, and totally kept him from any relationship with Harry, despite their many similarities?
-- Kreacher's betrayal came about because Sirius utterly disregarded him as a creature with feelings. How might disregard be worse than hate?
-- Contrast Bellatrix Lestrange & the other Death Eater's relationship with Lord Voldemort with the members of The Order of the Phoenix & their leader, Albus Dumbledore.
-- Discuss Fudge's paranoia towards Dumbledore
-- Discuss Delores Umbridge-- one of the most hateable villains ever-- in light of Sirius' words "The world's not split into good guys and Death Eaters, Harry." What makes a person good or evil?
-- Harry & Ron learn a lot about girls in this book. Discuss how they are clued in by Hermione. Laugh with your child over the differences between girls and boys. Let's face it: they are many, and they are funny!
-- Rowling is a master of Chekhov's gun, meaning she ALWAYS introduces us to important story elements before they actually are important; for example, the mention of thestrals in passing by Professor Grubbly-Plank, which turn out to be critical in the story's climax. How many of these can you find in this book?
-- Those who study Latin and/or Greek will enjoy finding the meanings within the many spells, charms & hexes.

Memorable quotes:

Stars: five!!!
Plot- complex, layered (the more you read this series, the more you will see just how intricately wrought it all is). Full star
Characters/Setting- an utterly believable cast of characters with a setting so rich you wish you could visit. Full star.
Eternal perspective- dozens of parables, eternal life-lessons and echoes of the Great Story. Full star.
Writing- incredible prose that you will love to quote. Full star.
Wow factor- on top of everything else done so well, it's full of humor that will leave you laughing out loud (thank you, Fred & George). Bonus star.

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