The Harry Potter Generation

More than a decade ago, an entire generation was introduced to the Harry Potter Boxed Set Hardcovermagical, wondrous world of Harry Potter.

It was a world full of friendships, hard lessons and evil.

Harry’s innocence, though it fought valiantly to hang on, was lost very early. The tragic attack on his world, his family and others, left him scarred – physically and emotionally.

A decade ago, another scar, a real scar in the real world, was left on American soil and in the hearts of many around the world. 9/11 changed the perception of adults. It changed our sense of security. The collective sense of insecurity became pervasive, and could not be hidden from our children.

Years ago – a generation ago – adults worked to absorb and hide concern and fear so children wouldn’t have to know about danger in the world. Children could be children – innocent, naïve, oblivious. Happy and free from worry, free from the burdens of adulthood, of evil.

Ground zero rubbleHogwarts Rubble

 

 

 

 

 

 

But, 9/11 brought that evil into focus. There was no hiding it. Our children felt every breath of it. And while they could not ignore it, many of them were too young to process it, to understand it.

With Harry Potter books and movies running along the same time as al Qaeda gained steam, the children were able to give fear a home. They saw Voldemort as evil while we saw bin Laden as evil. They watched this fictitious evil grow stronger, be fought, grow stronger yet again. And they watched Harry, and all the other ‘good’ people, as they struggled to counter the terrorist acts of Voldemort and the Death Eaters. It was much the same as the West struggled to beat back, contain and defeat bin Laden and al Qaeda. While this real-life process will take a lot more than a wave of a wand or a spoken Latin phrase, the connection is clear. Voldemort and Death Eaters

Now, a decade later, Bin laden is dead, killed on May 2nd. Voldemort has been obliterated (his last breath ALSO on May 2nd). And while the destruction, pain and devastation remain, so does hope. Our children have grown. They’re no longer wide-eyed and innocent. They are now street smart and educated. They’re young adults coming into their own, recognizing good and evil. Understanding where each rests in society, and feeling confident that they can overcome it. They can fight back. They witnessed the most horrific act of terrorism in US history. They witnessed the destruction of the fictitious world they love. And they witnessed, “19 Years Later” as it says in the book, how even through horror, even through death and destruction, life goes on.

There is no line between winning and losing. That area is blurred and wide. Winning is measured by love, friendship and integrity, while loss occurs when there is no hope.

Harry Potter will forever be a force in the minds of an entire generation. It thrilled. It frightened. It stirred. I will miss hearing about the newest book coming out and the newest film being released. I will miss the excitement in my daughter’s young eyes as she discussed the symbolism she saw in the stories. I will miss the years of toy wands, wizard-cape costumes and witch’s brooms. A lifetime – my child’s lifetime – was shared with Harry Potter. I watched her grow and mature along with the characters. The actors.

Harry Potter And The Sorcerers Stone  Harry, Ron and Hermione now

I am sad to see it end, but I am happy we had it at the time we did. Besides giving children a fantasy to explore, it gave them books to read and ideas to debate and exchange. In the dark shadow of 9/11, Harry Potter offered hope, and for that, I am forever grateful.

Thank you Harry, Hermione, Ron and all the others. Most especially, thank you J.K. Rowling.

22 Responses to The Harry Potter Generation

  • Great post! It’s so true the world, our kids,and the books they read have all changed.

  • I never even thought about the parallel of the HP stories and 9/11. My sons who are now 30 and 23 both grew up with the series and i hope they gleened avigo of that hope you mentioned. I too will miss the anticipation of the next book but the beauty of fiction is that the characters and the lessons will live on.

  • Thanks for the tears! I hate when “finality” comes. It leaves a void that feels hollow. I never thought of the parallel of the books to real life drama. Wonderful way to show the connection. Hard to believe these characters were barely preteens (Emma 9?) when they started the films. Yes, I agree, a big thank you to author J.K. Rowling for bringing fantasy to life. Who’s next? One of us perhaps? If so, remember those of us who commented on your blogs! Thanks Debora.

    • Sorry, Joelene! Didn’t mean to make you cry. Yes, Emma Watson was only 9 when they filmed the first movie. Imagine? And my daughter was only six when it was released. She’s now about to celebrate her Sweet 16. A huge, impressionable period of her life has been spent with these amazing books and movies.

      Oh, I love the idea of one of us being next. Imagine YOUR books moving and impressing an entire generation – and beyond? Incredible. Here’s to us… and hope. 😉

  • That was neat. I never thought of it in those terms before. I think Harry Potter was also a series that got a lot of kids who wouldn’t have otherwise done it to read books.

    • I might be the odd one out because no one else seems to have seen it the same way. I couldn’t help see the parallels and thought others did as well. How funny. I wonder what that says about me. 😯

      But you’re so right – the greatest benefit was getting kids to read. Imagine all the hours they might have spent at the computer or TV instead. When I see my daughter reading these books again and again, I can’t help but sigh happily.

  • What a wonderful post. Thank you for clarifying the HP position in our society for me – you hit it right on the head.

    Cheers!

    • It’s funny, because I know JK Rowling didn’t plan this connection,and since I seem to be the only one who noticed it, I wonder if it wasn’t more of a comfort and teaching tool for me than a release for the kids. I don’t know. I think on some level, it did help them sort through what was happening in the real world.

      Either way, Harry will be sorely missed.

  • The end of an era 🙂 Great Post

  • I too didn’t see a parallel. What that says about you is that your insightful. Not a bad trait for a writer, eh? 🙂

    Really nice post!

  • Sorry I missed this the day it came out, but what a pithy, insightful post! Even as adults, we want to believe that good will triumph over evil despite the horrors we see happening around us. The indominable human spirit that endears us to Ann Frank, Elie Weisel, the NYC firefighters, etc gives validation to our belief. I had never thought of the parallel, but you’ve shown me its beauty and given me a plausible explanation for the popularity of the stories across generations.

    • Thanks, Pam! I couldn’t agree more – we do need to see good conquer evil. And, I think it’s that need which keeps our hope alive. Hope means possibility. Once we lose it, it’s over. That and innocence, I think, is what helped endear us to the Harry Potter series. Hope, innocence, good over evil and coming of age. What’s not to love? 🙂

  • I don’t know how I missed this since I thought I was subscribed to your blog. Maybe not. Gotta fix THAT! I loved the parallelism of this post between 9/11 and HP. Well done. I too am very happy that my children (and me too!) were able to experience HP and the joy of anticipation for the next book as well as the next movie. My 12-year-old daughter just finished the Twilight Series and asked me if she should start reading HP or a single title! I think this post has pushed me over the edge with an answer!
    Patti

    • Isn’t it exciting when our kids want a new book instead of a new video/computer game? Love that! I’m glad I was able to help you make up your mind. 🙂

  • Debora,
    Just looked around and can’t tell how I subscribe to your blog.
    Patti

    • Wow. Thank you for wanting to subscribe! 😀 There’s a button at the top right (above the fireplace) that says Subscribe RSS. That’s the only way I know of subscribing to this. I like to think I’m blog-savvy but… I guess I’m not. :-/

      Let me know if that works. If it doesn’t, I’ll research other ways to subscribe.

  • My sons who are now 30 and 23 both grew up with the series and i hope they gleened avigo of that hope you mentioned. Isn’t it exciting when our kids want a new book instead of a new video/computer game? I too will miss the anticipation of the next book but the beauty of fiction is that the characters and the lessons will live on. I think Harry Potter was also a series that got a lot of kids who wouldn’t have otherwise done it to read books.

    • Absolutely, Lacey. So many kids who would otherwise be playing the newest video game were instead devouring Rowling’s tomes. How wonderful that her work energized an entire generation that way. She didn’t just stimulate their imaginations but inspired their imaginations for a decade. Now that the books have all been read and the movies all watched, we’re buying the ‘behind the scenes’ books which are compelling in their own right. It seems the wonder of Harry Potter will last well into the coming years. And I’m not the least bit unhappy about that. 🙂

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