Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’: Chapter 27
In the twenty-seventh chapter of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, OH MY GOD GUYS SHIT JUST GOT SO REAL OH MY GOD. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.
CHAPTER 27: THE CENTAUR AND THE SNEAK
I take everything back. I am so, so, so, so wrong. This is the best chapter in Order of the Phoenix. So far. And I’ll probably change my mind again, but let’s just bask in the glow of chapter 27.
Because holy shit, everything just go so real and my head is unable to operate in any coherent capacity oh my god what the fuck just happened
Let’s talk about the SHIT YEA-osity that is Firenze’s first lesson of Divination.
- The classroom floor had become springily mossy and trees were growing out of it; their leafy branches fanned across the ceiling and windows, so that the room was full of slanting shafts of soft, dappled, green light. The students who had already arrived were sitting on the earthy floor with their backs resting against tree trunks or boulders, arms wrapped around their knees or folded tightly across their chests, looking rather nervous. In the middle of the room, where there were no trees, stood Firenze.
This is some majestic shit, you guys. Can you imagine walking into this on the first day of a new teacher’s class? I love how it also seems to be the complete polar opposite to Trelawney’s stuffy room.
Firenze’s teaching methods, as well, are not at all like his predecessor’s; in fact, the wisdom he passes on to his students that first day is pretty mind-numbing.
- ”Professor Trelawney did Astrology with us!” said Parvati excitedly, raising her hand in front of her so that it stuck up in the air as she lay on her back. “Mars causes accidents and burns and things like that, and when it makes an angle to Saturn, like now—“ she drew a right angle in the air above her—“that means people need to be extra careful when handling hot things—“
“That,” said Firenze calmly, “is human nonsense.”
Parvati’s hand fell limply to her side.
“Trivial hurts, tiny human accidents,” said Firenze, as his hooves thudded over the mossy floor. “These are of no more significance than the scurryings of ants to the wide universe, and are unaffected by planetary movements.”
OH FUCK. What I love most about Firenze’s approach is how much this can be applied to the actual events of this book. And I know we’ve talked more than enough about Harry’s angst and the way he centers things solely around his life, but I think Firenze’s points stands as a larger theme for the entire book: most of the time, the day-to-day minutia of our lives is dust in the face of the larger scheme of things.
- ”Sybill Trelawney may have Seen, I do not know,” continued Firenze, and Harry heard the swishing of his tail again as he walked up and down before them, “but she wastes her time, in the main, on the self-flattering nonsense humans call fortune-telling. I, however, am here to explain the wisdown of centaurs, which is impersonal and impartial. We watch the skies for the great tides of evil or change that are sometimes marked there. It may take ten years to be sure of what we are seeing.”
Firenze pointed to the red star directly above Harry.
“In the past decade, the indications have been that Wizard-kind is living through nothing more than a brief calm between two wars. Mars, bringer of battle, shines brightly above us, suggesting that the fight must break out again soon. How soon, centaurs may attempt to divine by the burning of certain herbs and leaves, by the observation of fume and flame….”
OH GOD. There is an oncoming war. OH GOD OH GOD OH SHIT
- They did indeed burn sage and mallowsweet there on the classroom floor, and Firenze told them to look for certain shapes and symbols in the pungent fumes, but he seemed perfectly unconcerned that not one of them could see any of the signs he described, telling them that humans were hardly ever good at this, that it took centaurs years and years to become competent, and finished by telling them that it was foolish to put too much faith in such things anyway, because even centaurs sometimes read them wrongly. He was nothing like any human teacher Harry had ever had. His priority did not seem to be to teach them what he knew, but rather to impress upon them that nothing, not even centaurs’ knowledge, was foolproof.
And this is a message worth thinking about. Who can we trust anymore in this book and in this story? I feel this is less a message directed towards Trelawney and more of an idea for truth itself.
OK I’M DONE WITH PHILOSOPHY 101. Shall we talk about SHIT GETTING REAL?
Harry’s only remaining avenue of true happiness is his Defense Against the Dark Arts lessons in the Requirement Room. Most of the other students can now produce Patronuses, despite that there really isn’t anything for them to defend against.
And this brief moment of joy is ruined by the appearance of Dobby, who shows up in the Requirement Room in a panic, and then immediately begins to self-punish himself by banging his head against the wall.
When Harry finally calms him down enough, Dobby’s able to get his message out: Dolores Umbridge is coming.
What follows this is pure and simple chaos and I want to spend some time talking about these events instead of quoting and keymashing. Because…look, that is entertaining and also really lazy to write but it is also a completely accurate view of what’s going on inside my brain, so I’m actually conflicted and I really need to end this sentence because its gone on for too long.
As the students escape and Harry orders Dobby to hide and not tattle on him, he’s met in the hallway by the (second) worst person ever, Draco Malfoy, who trips him. No, seriously, that’s the device Rowling uses to initiate the events that follow and it’s so deceptively simple it makes me laugh. Also, it shows what a little coward Malfoy is, hiding in the shadows to get his revenge.
Umbridge catches Harry and the joy on her face is palpable because she’s just gained the one thing she’s been aiming for this entire time: Harry’s complete downfall.
And to be completely honest, I expected Rowling to take the difficult path at this point and force Harry to deal with the repercussions of his actions. I suppose I’m used to disappointment by now in Order of the Phoenix and it seemed to stay within the books larger theme of HEY EVERYTHING SUCKS NOW THAT YOU’RE BECOMING AN ADULT DO YOU LIKE IT.
Instead, Rowling chooses an even more challenging route that presents even larger conflicts than I could have ever dreamed up.
Marietta, Cho’s talkative friend, snitched on Harry and his group. However, due to (I think?) Hermione’s spell, the word SNEAK appeared on her face IN PURPLE PUSTULES. Oh god THE SHAME.
So, I know all of you know what happens next: Umbridge interrogates Marietta, who suddenly does not provide the information Umbridge believed she had. Confused, but not completely shaken by this lack of information, Umbridge then pulls out her main piece of evidence:
The list of members of Dumbledore’s Army, signed by each student.
My brain at this point: FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK.
And then, the unexpected happens:
- ”Well, the game is up,” he said simply. “Would you like a written confession from me, Cornelius—or will a statement before the witnesses suffice?”
Harry saw McGonagall and Kingsley look at each other. There was fear in both faces. He did not understand what was going on, and neither, apparently, did Fudge.
“Statement?” said Fudge slowly. “What—I don’t—?”
“Dumbeldore’s Army, Cornelius,” said Dumbledore, still smiling as he waved the list of names before Fudge’s face. “Not Potter’s Army. Dumbledore’s Army.”
OH. OH MY GOD. This is really happening?
I expected this conflict to happen much farther along in the book, especially given that there are over 250 pages STILL LEFT. And yet, here it is: Dumbledore is standing up for Harry and his friends and initiating the full-out war on Cornelius Fudge.
And this isn’t a disagreement; it’s a war.
- “Enough of this rubbish!” said Fudge, pulling out his own wand. “Dawlish! Shacklebolt! Take him!”
A streak of silver light flashed around the room. There was a bang like a gunshot, and the floor trembled. A hand grabbed the scruff of Harry’s neck and forced him down on the floor as a second silver flash went off—several of the portraits yelled, Fawkes screeched, and a cloud of dust fulled the air. Coughing in the dust, Harry saw a dark figure fall to the ground with a crash in front of him. There was a shriek and a thud and somebody cried, “No!” Then the sound of breaking glass, frantically scruffling footsteps, a groan—and silence.
Dumbledore, the amazing bad ass motherfucker that he is, hexed EVERYONE in the room. Can you even imagine??? Oh my god DO NOT GET IN DUMBLEDORE’S WAY.
And right before Dumbledore leaves to escape, he warns Harry:
- ”Listen to me, Harry,” he said urgently,” you must study Occlumency as hard as you can, do you understand me? Do everything Professor Snape tells you and practice it particularly every night before sleeping so that you can close your mind to bad dreams—you will understand why soon enough, but you must promise me—“
The man called Dawlish was stirring. Dumbledore seized Harry’s wrist.
“Remember—close your mind—“
But as Dumbledore’s fingers closed over Harry’s skin, a pain shot through the scar on his forehead, and he felt again that terrible, snake-like longing to strike Dumbledore, to bite him, to hurt him—
“—you will understand,” whispered Dumbledore.
OH MY GOD WHAT IS GOING ON.
One last thing:
- As it swung closed behind them, Harry heard Phineas Nigellus’s voice.
“You know, Minister, I disagree with Dumbledore on many counts…but you cannot deny he’s got style….”
OH FUCK, you guys. THIS SHIT IS ON.