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Do You Think This Means Rape?

July 23, 2007
When I read this excerpt I thought it implied rape. Then I started examining why I have reached this conclusion and thought maybe I should ask others for their opinion in case I was too quick to assume the worse.

The following excerpt is from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, therefore if you do not want any of it spoiled, perhaps you should stop here. However, it does not really spoil the plot; nevertheless, in case, you are a stickler for details, you may want to stop reading now.

The excerpt begins now.

From Chapter Twenty-Eight, page 564:

“Never you mind,” said Aberforth.
“But that’s a really serious thing to say!” said Hermione. “Are you—- are you talking about your sister?”
Aberforth glared at her: His lips moved as if he were chewing the words he was holding back. Then he burst into speech.
“When my sister was six years old, she was attacked, set upon, by three Muggle boys. They’d seen her doing magic, spying through the back garden hedge: She was a kid, she couldn’t control it, no witch or wizard can at that age. What they saw scared them, I expect. They forced their way through the hedge, and when she couldn’t show them the trick, they got a bit carried away trying to stop the little freak doing it.” [This has to be Aberforth’s bitter sarcasm, “a bit carried away?”]
Hermione’s eyes were huge in the firelight; Ron looked slightly sick. Aberforth stood up, tall as Albus, and suddenly terrible in his anger and the intensity of his pain.
“It destroyed her, what they did: She was never right again. She wouldn’t use magic, but she couldn’t get rid of it; it turned inward and drove her mad, it exploded out of her when she couldn’t control it, and at times she was strange and dangerous. But mostly she was sweet and scared and harmless.
“And my father went after the bastards that did it,” said Alberforth, “and attacked [killed] them. And they locked him up in Azkaban for it. He never said why he’d done it, because if the Ministry had known what Ariana had become, she’d have been locked up in St. Mungo’s for good. They’d have seen her as serious threat to the International Statue of Secrecy, unbalanced like she was, with magic exploding out of her at moments when she couldn’t keep it in any longer….”

  1. Absorbant permalink
    July 23, 2007 11:02 am

    I think you’re right, it does seem that way. Pretty sad.

  2. Kitty Glendower permalink
    July 23, 2007 11:27 am

    What bothers me is, as Aberforth attempts to understand why the Muggle boys did what they did he is diminishing the severity of what they did in fact do to his sister. That is why I hope he is being sarcastic when he says they got “a bit carried away.” Yeah, just a bit!

  3. Absorbant permalink
    July 23, 2007 12:10 pm

    And now we shall never know!

  4. Professor Zero permalink
    July 23, 2007 2:02 pm

    I think it is about rape, yes.

  5. Dewey permalink
    July 23, 2007 6:27 pm

    I thought it was rape, too. And I don’t think Rowling meant to downplay it so much as keep young kids from realizing what we realize.

  6. Kitty Glendower permalink
    July 23, 2007 10:38 pm

    Thanks Professor for reassuring me.

    Yes, Dewey I was thinking that after I searched to see if others thought it was rape as well. Someone was complaining that it was too mature for children. I disagree; supposedly, the books are for 9-12 year olds. Nevertheless, I do appreciate the way Rowling disguised it, thereby leaving the “carried away a bit” up to the child’s imagination. I do not think at 9-12, I could have possibly thought it was rape. I am quite sure I would not have. The word rape was kept from my knowledge up until my sister was raped when she was 17 and even then I don’t think me at 15 knew what it meant, really meant until I lived through the aftermath.

  7. Pippa permalink
    July 24, 2007 9:07 am

    You see, this kind of thing is why I can’t BEAR Harry Potter stuff. I could rant on, but I won’t because I’m in such a minority!! The passage you quoted just makes me angry for so many reasons. I’m crabby today…

  8. gingermiss permalink
    July 26, 2007 10:31 pm

    She’s definitely talking about rape, but in the least confrontational way possible.

    J.K. Rowling loves to walk that fine line between writing something significant and robbing it of its power, doesn’t she?

  9. Kitty Glendower permalink
    July 27, 2007 12:37 am

    Of course, I concluded it was rape but questioned if my feminist sensibilities were clouding my judgment. I was wondering aloud if there is anything other than rape (both male and female victims) that can traumatize a human to this point or is it clear to everyone the significance of rape. And if it is so obvious the significance of rape then I am force to wonder why more is not done about rape, including being sympathic toward rape victims and their avengers (Albus’s father for instance). This excerpt is saying that the secrecy of magic is more important than a little girl well being after a rape. Perhaps an exaggeration of the possibilities but it is still there. Would knowledge of her rape really ruin the secrecy of magic or is this just another way of hiding and silencing a rape.

  10. Arantxa permalink
    July 27, 2007 12:54 am

    I’m with you there, Pippa: the Potter books are sexist. Did they get worse for every book she wrote (or am I just noticing it more now)?

    Also, I think Rowling is saying that rape spoils the woman (spoilt goods) who was raped (she was never herself again; ‘lost’ her mind) and says nothing of the trauma as experienced by the victim – or the character would’ve had a voice.

  11. franzy permalink
    July 30, 2007 4:09 am

    it’s most certainly rape. Consider this: throughout the novel, the health of the Dumbledore family is inexplicably hinged on the deterioration of the youngest sibling. If ever there were a single act that could inspire the patriarch to murder muggles or the family to whither, it would have to be rape. This was perhaps the most deliberately shocking and unsettling segment of the book (and perhaps the entire series) for me.

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