Sister Spikey Mace of Warm Humanitarianism (elphaba_of_oz) wrote in hp_book7,
Sister Spikey Mace of Warm Humanitarianism
elphaba_of_oz
hp_book7

No Spoilers - no worries - no kidding

On the eve of.....

July 21st 2007 could be the day my world view is shattered, once and for all. On July 21st canon will be solidified. Even now it's solidifying all around me, all over the world. Infinite possible threads are being woven into canon, once and for all. In the coming days we will all read Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows. JKR will anoint one star as the center of the Potterverse and a thousand, thousand suns will whimper and tumble from the sky.

The muggle population of the Potterverse is anxiously focused on the fate of the boy who lived. Will Harry prevail? Will he die? Will he retain his humanity? Will he ride of into the sunset with Ginny Weasly and produce a new generation of baby Gryffindors? Will Harry Potter's tale turn out to be the descent of Inana? Will he prevail by descending into death and giving up all of his weapons and protections? Will it be the story of Orpheus? Will Harry emerge from death and lose the one he loves most?

I care about such things, but they aren't the reason I'm planning to buy the new book at midnight and read throughout the night. In my Potterverse, Harry is not the hero. I'm not reading yet another incarnation of the hero's journey. I have not been reading various volumes of Harry Potter and the {String of Evocative Nouns} - a tale of the boy who lived. All along I have been reading The Life and Times of Severus Snape as Seen Through the Eyes of the Boy who Lived.

I have real affection for Harry and his chums. I don't want them to suffer. However, the success or failure of the final volume of JKR's work will be determined for me by the fate of Severus Snape. Professor Snape is my protagonist. The overriding theme of the Harry Potter series is redemption.

I cling to the belief that every human being has the seeds of goodness within himself - even someone as socially challenged as Severus Snape. I don't blame Snape for his unpleasant personal quirks, or his belief that most of the others around him are stupid and shallow, or his long-standing hatred of the marauders, or his distaste for James Potter's child. His life experience taught him these traits and belief and habits. If anyone deserves a get out of jail free card for the grudges he carries it's Severus Snape.

Snape can't be expected to be a nurturing mentor to Harry. James Potter and his friends tortured young Severus. Why should the adult Snape be fond of someone who stands as a constant reminder of that long-ago torture and humiliation? Although he's hostile towards James Potter's son, he does the right by the boy when it really matters. How many times does Professor Snape save Harry's's life? It's a testament to Snape's moral compass that he does the right and ethical thing over and over again for a boy who reminds him of his deepest shame and disappointment. (1)

Snape is not a great humanitarian. He's nasty and condescending to almost everyone. He doesn't play fairly with the students. He seems to delight in catching anyone outside of Slytherin House breaking the rules. He's petty and argumentative. He's just not a nice guy.

But why should he be? Who has ever been nice to him? He was raised by a magical mother who married beneath her station. JKR drops hints that wee Severus witness the abuse of Mrs... Snape by her muggle husband. Young Master Snape, half-blood Prince, did not grow up in the sort of environment that nurtures a child and encourages him to thrive. His home life must have left terrible scars.

There were other obstacles to happily ever after in the early life of Snape the younger. Imagine little baby Snape with all of his perfect little baby fingers and perfect little baby toes - perfect indeed, but not pretty. Where does that hooked nose come from? Certainly not from something he did or from some evil birthright. The honking shnoz is nothing more sinister than his dole from the genetic lottery. Little Severus came into this world NPA - not physically attractive.

I read a newspaper article last week about a study involving overweight kids. The author concludes an overweight child has a quality of life similar to that of a child with cancer. People are repelled by them. Human beings like pretty people. They assume pretty people are more intelligent than their NPA counterparts. They are drawn to the attractive and repelled by the ugly. From the time he was born, young Severus fell into the later camp. He wasn't the sort of fellow who plays sports and dates the homecoming queen. He was seen as ugly and week - a natural victim to the gregarious, attractive, high-status, jocks looking for a diversion.

Adult Snape is nasty and abusive to everyone around him. Young Snape was abused by everyone around him. What might he have grown up to be if his childhood had been full of love and approval? I can forgive the young man who fell into the death eaters along with his Slytherin peers. I can applaud someone who, against the odds, finds the strength of character to renounce that path, because it is the right thing to do.

Would a good man kill his benefactor? Maybe. I am firmly in the "Snape did it because Dumbledore told him to" camp. I see the humanity in an overly bright, overly sensitive young man who is tormented and bullied by his classmates. I choose to believe that humanity can survive into that boy's adulthood, even if the boy makes some terrible choices along the way. Even a death eater is capable of contrition.

Since the publication of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince in 2005, fans have been picking apart text to prove or disprove the theory that Snape is still loyal to the white hats. I see no point in rehashing those arguments. For the last two years the Potterverse has had only conjecture about the true nature of Canon Snape. Tomorrow we receive JKR's truth.

For the last two years, Professor Severus Snape has been stalled at the intersection of unlimited roads. He could turn down any one of them and travel along a path towards one of a number of future Snape's. For two years JKR has left her iteration of Hogwart's most complicated teacher languishing in limbo as Potential Snape. Fanfic authors and slashers have been giving Potential Snape little pushes down various paths all along, and I've followed on more than one of those journeys. On July 21, Canon will be revealed. I will follow my hero down the road that JKR has chosen for him. I approach this voyage with trepidation. What if JKR has chosen the wrong road?

I need redemption for the Snape who lives inside my head. I need him to have been fighting for the white hats with dedication and sincerity fromthe moment he first came back to Dumbledore. I need to believe in a universe in which things are not always as they seem, in which the ugly can be good and the nasty can be well-intentioned and the fallen and soiled can be made wholesome and whole again.

If the Professor Snape of canon turns out to be the evil bastard he appears to be, my Potterverse instantly transforms into a bleak and terrible place. Snape must be good. If he is not, it is JKR Rowling not Lord Voldemort, and not Severus Snape who is the ultimate, evil magician. She is the goddess of the Potterverse. She said, "Let there be light!" and the firmament was made. If she is a goddess who makes a man miserable, and makes that miserable man a figure beyond redemption, beyond humanity - then she is a goddess I do not want to know.



(1) I think we will find out in Book 7 that Severus Snape was in puppy-love with Lily Evans, Harry's mother.

And no, I have not and will not read the damned spoilers.
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