Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’: Chapter 5

In the fifth chapter of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, everything is really awkward and it’s like sitting in on a dysfunctional family’s dinner. Then Harry gets an informative Q&A session! Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.


Holy shit, guys. This chapter is painfully awkward.

That’s not necessarily something I’m complaining about. I think it’s a strength of Rowling that she’s able to create situations that bring about such strong feelings in the reader. The entire first half of this chapter is so full of awkwardness that it’s palpable. Sirius’s biting sarcasm is less funny than usual and more a symptom of a restless spirit being confined indoors because of his complicated situation.

Actually, at one point, I considered doing a review that would essentially amount to me yelling, “MOM AND DAD ARE FIGHTING MAKE THEM STOP PLEASE,” but I couldn’t think of any sort of justification for that sort of execution. Oh well.

Until the big question and answer scene at the end, this chapter really serves to set up the emotional state of everyone in this house. Initially, I was of course excited to have Lupin, Sirius, and Mrs. Weasley return, and in such large parts, and to know that they’re all in the same house! Guys! Oh god, just be glad I didn’t write another piece of self-insert fic.

But taking a step back from the excitement and the awkward fury, there’s a great emotional subtext to the opening of chapter 5. Rowling demonstrates through the sharp nerves and the snippy comments exactly how frazzled all of these people are. Despite that, in my head, this is one giant party of sorts, it’s not that way for these people, which also explains a great deal why both Dumbledore and Mrs. Weasley are so adamant about leaving Harry out of this mess.

It speaks to the dire seriousness of the entire mess with Voldemort. As they’ve all witnessed, Voldemort’s return projects a legitimate risk to all of them and to the wizarding world as a whole. Which also explains why Dumbledore is so willing to lose his stature as a wizard and as the Headmaster of Hogwarts in order to save lives.

I suppose that’s what makes him who he is. That sense of selflessness and nobility is rare in anyone, even the characters in this book. (I think Harry’s demonstrated fairly well that he’s not mature enough to exhibit that sort of character quite yet.)

So where does that leave our good guys? They’re stuck between a rock and a hard place: they can’t outright attempt to spread the news about Voldemort, especially those still in the Ministry, but they also know they have to do everything they can for what will be the inevitable war between the two parties.

And you know what? There’s not much that happens in this chapter and it definitely exists as a place and time for Rowling to set up most of these pieces. But I was really satisfied with its execution because there’s so much more under the surface here. Lupin’s calm demeanor throughout the chaotic conversation, especially when Sirius and Mrs. Weasley get into a heated fight over whether Harry deserves to know what’s going on (and how much) speaks volumes towards why he’s still my absolute favorite character in this series. He’s a pensive guy and I appreciate that he’s not necessarily the first to act. But he’s always the first one to think things through.

I didn’t feel like quoting anything because I really wanted to spend time writing a review that was much more of a reflection on the chapter as a whole, especially since there weren’t that many HOLY HOLY GOD WHAT THE FUCK moments either. I’m hoping I get more time and opportunities to do just this, because they’re my favorite reviews to write, at least from a creative standpoint.

And on that note, it’s time to keep reading.