The Body Count

She promised us deaths, did she not?  It's bad, I had to find a list to make sure I was remembering them all.

First, the big ones....

Funnily enough, I think the death that bothered me most--at least until Dobby died--was Hedwig.  It served so many purposes, of course.  Losing the Firebolt and Hedwig--two such important parts of his childhood and his time at Hogwarts--so early really showed that Harry was going to a different place in this book.  It also showed that JKR wasn't pulling any punches.  Lastly--and I feel horribly cynical saying this--it was necessary for the plot.  With the trio off camping and apparating and making narrow escapes, it would have been terribly cumbersome to have to deal with owls and cages--especially considering that it's already been shown that owl post can't be used in times of trouble.

Next was Mad-Eye.  As I said in the live blog, his death wasn't really all that horrible to me.  He was the kind of character you always knew would die in battle, and he wouldn't have wanted it any other way.  The part that icked me out was the idea of the Death Eaters finding his body and taking his eye.  If they stuck that in Umbridge's door, I hate to think what they did with the rest of him.  But Harry burying the eye under the most gnarled, old tree in the forest--that got my tears going.  So completely fitting.

And then, Dobby.  Dobby.  He was just so beaten down (by the Malfoys) for so long, but he was so brave and independent and steadfast--yet totally innocent at the same time.  And like Mad-Eye, you can't think of another way Dobby would have rather died than saving Harry, not to mention fighting against the Malfoys, but still....it was heartbreaking.  As Luna said,

"It's so unfair that you had to die, when you were so good and brave.  I'll always remember what you did for us.  I hope you're happy now."

After that, people started dropping off fast and furious--which kind of made it easier.

Tonks and Lupin I think were meant to echo a few things.  First, there's another little boy without a Mom and Dad, like Harry.  Second, another little boy being raised by his Grandmother (Neville).  Third, another godson with a slightly reckless godfather (Harry and Teddy).  Then, you have to remember that Lupin is the last Marauder to die--which kind of makes you think of the other three.  And the way they died....the last you see of them Lupin's charging into the battle and Tonks is going after him.  On a lot of the message boards people are sort of imagining that they died together or protecting each other, which I think is nice.  I really liked Lupin's statement when he comes back after his death to walk Harry into the forest--when Harry says he's sorry Lupin died, Lupin says his death will make a better world for his son--you've got to think he's hoping for a world where being a werewolf, or a werewolf's child--won't be held against him in the way it was held against Lupin. 

And as for Tonks--the main reason her death bothered me was because I felt like she never really got a chance to become a developed character first.  She was fun and clumsy in OOP, and mopey in HBP, and I think she really could have been great.  I read a piece of fan fiction the other day that really explored how hard it would have been for her--Bellatrix's niece, Sirius's cousin--to come out of the shadow of her family.  I really would have liked to see more of that, but there just wasn't time.  Although I see why she had to die--all the points I made about Teddy above wouldn't have worked if he still had a mom.

The other victim of the battle, of course, was Fred Weasley.  I've said for quite awhile that one of the twins was going to die--even setting the "U-NO-POO!" aside, remember, they threw snowballs at the back of Quirrell-Mort's head!  One of the Weasley's had to go, and while I was secretly hoping it would be Charlie, the very reason I hoped it would be him is the reason it couldn't be him--we just didn't care about him enough.  It really had to be one of the younger four, and since Ron and Ginny had to live to make fat babies with Hermione and Harry (respectively)....But again, the way he died was so perfect; just after Percy came back, with the smile from his last joke still on his face.  That's one thing that was done so, so well in this book.  You got the idea that if the characters themselves knew they had to die, and could only pick the way they would go, they would have gone out just the way it was written.  It made it easier, for me at least, and really helped emphasize one of the major themes of the book--that dying for something you believe in or to protect those you love is infinitely better than living forever dishonorably.

And then there was the big one--well, with the exception of the even bigger one--Snape.  This one really surprised me, I have to admit.  Don't get me wrong--I knew Snape was good and I knew he would die--but I was really imagining something a little more flashy.  I once posited:

Wouldn't it be a very interesting commentary on bravery if we (the readers) found out that Snape was good, but Harry never does?  Leaving us to contrast Snape's silent bravery with Harry's more conventional "charge in and shoot 'em up" brand of courage.

And although that isn't exactly what happened, in a way it kind of is.  Snape died just the way he lived--a silent hero.  I kind of want to talk about Snape by himself later, so that's all I'm saying for now, that his death fit his life so well.

Last, but not least (of the big deaths anyway)--Harry.  I know, I know, he didn't really die--but then again, he kind of did.  And he died well.

Then there were the less important characters that died....

Charity Burbage, whose death was probably the scariest thing to date for me in the entire series of books, including the graveyard scene in GOF which held the honor before this book.  Something about her just hanging there pleading.  And then later when you find out that Snape was really good, but there was nothing he could do to save her, that just makes it all even more sick.  And then--uck!--"Nagini, dinner."

Rufus Scrimgeour who, even though he didn't approve of what Harry was doing, in the end came around and protected him before he died.  I've always really liked his character.  Yes, he was an ass, but you kind of always got the idea that he was trying in the best way he knew how.

And sweet little Colin Creevy, who was "small in death".  Some people have wondered how in the heck he even got there--because as a muggle-born he certainly wouldn't have been at Hogwarts with the Carrows--but can't you just see him, getting the message on his DA coin and rushing to help his hero, Harry.

Ted Tonks--even though you don't know a ton about him, I've always thought he must be a kind of persevering kind of guy.  He would have had to have been to marry Andromeda despite her crazy family.  But then we also know that he's "a right old slob".  Again, I think it was necessary for him to die to leave Teddy Lupin more with only his Gran (just like Neville), but, like "Dora" Tonks, I would have liked to have learned more about him.

Then there were the baddies that got offed....

I have to start with the one that was the absolute best--Bellatrix.  If you didn't stand up and cheer when Molly said, "YOU BITCH" I don't know where you've been for the last 6 books.  She was just so annoyingly loyal to Voldey, and so stereotypical-bad-girl-psychopath.  For her to be killed by her absolute opposite--earth-mommy Molly Weasley, who it turned out had wicked wand skills above and beyond knitting sweaters--perfect!

Then there was Peter.  He got what was coming to him--strangled by his own hand.  As I've always hated his character, I was pretty glad to see him go.  Although he didn't quite play as big of role as I expected him to (a la Gollum in Lord of the Rings), Dumbledore was right, it was good that Harry didn't let Sirius and Lupin kill him.

Grindelwald's death proves why it's never good to be the baddest bad guy--someone else will always come along better, and when you're dealing with people with no morals....

And Nagini.  It was so beautiful that Neville did it.  I read something somewhere comparing the trio + Neville, to the Marauders with Pettigrew being Neville.  The author pointed out that the difference was that a) Neville was a better person to begin with and b) the trio was better to him than James, Sirius, and Lupin where to Pettigrew.  And--although this is obvious, as is a lot of my gushing here--after all his initial lack of confidence, in the end "only a true Gryffindor" could have pulled that sword out of the hat.

Then there was the big one, which was appropriate in that it wasn't very big.  Killed by his own curse, his body "hit the floor with a mundane finality, his body feeble and shrunken."  Ordinary, ordinary, ordinary--his greatest fear.  And Peeves' victory song--"And Voldy's gone moldy"--my favorite Peeves song so far!