The Far Reaching and Lasting Effects of War

In Deathly Hallows, we are fully immersed in the Second Wizarding War. I have always read about war and have kind of been able to imagine what that environment might feel like, but I myself have never lived through a war or war-like situation. We got snippets in the Half-Blood Prince where events were happening such as murders, disappearances, and changes in government. However, in Deathly Hallows, we now see the widespread and full scale effects of a war. The change, the fear, the anxiety, the caution, the risk. The death and loss of lives.
Within the first 100 pages it is clear that Deathly Hallows is no longer the same cute children’s book as the Philosopher’s Stone. On a re-read, one theme I noticed is family separation. We see that Harry is saying good-bye to the Dursleys for the last time. He is not going back to Hogwarts and there is a chance that he will never see them again. There is also a sentimental atmosphere that has never existed before. Even though the Dursleys have treated Harry like dirt and pretended that he was non-existent, Uncle Vernon’s awkward attempt at a handshake, Dudley’s acknowledgement that Harry is not a waste of space, and Petunia’s hesitation before departing, shows that there was some underlying care and concern for Harry due to that familial bond. It is unfortunate that the threat of the war and prospect that this is the final good-bye are what bring this out. Later on we find out that Hermione has modified her parents memories. We don’t see this from Hermione’s point of view, but it must have taken a large mental and emotional toll on her. Finally there is Ron, who has never really been separated from his family, away from them and not at Hogwarts for the first time. All in the name of doing their own part in this war.
Deathly Hallows has also Harry losing many symbols that initially connected him to the Wizarding World as an 11-year old. He loses his Firebolt- his connection to Quidditch- and Hedwig- a constant and reliable presence, given as a gift from Hagrid- in the fourth chapter, then finally his wand- so vital to his ability to perform magic- in the 17th chapter after visiting Godric’s Hollow.
Last but not least, we see the loss of lives and are reminded of the loss of life. Mad-Eye Moody, who seemed so resilient, vigilant, and seemingly unable to be harmed, is murdered and there is no funeral for him like there was for Dumbledore. For someone who has constantly battled Dark wizards and lived such a seasoned life, it is hard to stomach that if he can die, anyone can die. We are also reminded throughout the book of Dumbledore, and the constant threat of someone you know dying hangs over our heads throughout the pages; Bathilda Bagshot, Remus Lupin, Tonks, Charity Burbage, Fred Weasley, Rufus Scrimgeour, Regulus Black, Lily and James Potter are all major deaths in the novel, but there are countless others who we never hear about.
It’s difficult to imagine what this kind of environment can feel like, but I feel that JK Rowling does a great job of immersing us in what it feels like to be in a war. Even I get scared or worried and feel anxious when reading the book, even though I know exactly what is going to happen. I know that there are a lot of parallels between the events happening in the book and the Second World War, which was pretty fresh in the minds of Britons when JK Rowling wrote the novel. This shows that these events are not just events that happen in books- they are real; they have been, are, and will be realities for some people. However, just like in the novel, there is hope- an end to the war and a chance to grieve together, rebuild, and create a better future for all.


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