The Many Father Figures of Harry Potter

Hey everyone!  So both with this month and with rereading the series, I’m over halfway done!  I’m reading Order of the Phoenix right now and I’ve only just gotten past Harry’s trial, so I’m still making progress but it’s going to naturally take some time.  This is the fattest book, after all.

I think it’s by the time we get to this book that we really start seeing who has become part of Harry’s surrogate family.  I think it’s time we talk about his father figures in his life.

Harry’s Surrogate Mother

But first, I want to give Mrs. Weasley some love.  She adopted Harry right from the beginning, knitting him a sweater for his first Christmas at Hogwarts even though she’d only met him for like 2 minutes.  The fact that he was a friend of Ron’s and didn’t come from a good home was all she needed to know.  From that moment on, Harry was an honorary son to her.

It’s been kind of interesting to watch her throughout the series and how she interacts with Harry.  She definitely cares about him at the beginning of Chamber of Secrets when the boys bring him to the Burrow, but I think her esteem for him grows after he saved Ginny.  From that point on, I see her as being more protective.  After Sirius escapes Azkaban, he constantly argues with Mr. Weasley about how much Harry should be allowed to know; Harry’s a child to her, and one she wants to do her best to protect.  He will always be a child to her.

But her real time to shine has been at the end of Goblet of Fire and the beginning of Order of the Phoenix.  Molly has, by this point, fully adopted Harry into her heart (and her home, if she could).  The Weasleys showing up as Harry’s “family” to watch the final task is sweet and more than a little emotional, especially as Harry constantly thinks of himself as being alone in life.  After the task, her first concern was fighting to find out where he was (as Moody was attempting to kill him) and protecting Harry from Sirius, who transformed from a dog to a man in the hospital wing to be with Harry.  And now, in Order of the Phoenix, she is the one voice who keeps insisting that Harry is a child, not an adult; he shouldn’t get to know everything about what’s happening.

And to an extent, I agree with her.  I see that she understands that Harry shouldn’t have to deal with these big complicated issues like Voldemort and people attacking him in the papers.  She wants him to retain some of his innocence and still be able to be a child for a while longer.  But it’s also kind of naïve of her to think this will work because the truth is that Harry is in a completely different situation than any of the other five children she’s raised past the age of 15.  I think sometimes she struggles to accept that.  She wants Harry to be normal like everyone else, but he’s just not.

Sirius

Perhaps the most obvious of father figures for Harry is his godfather, Sirius.  I admit that he’s one of my favorite characters because my heart bleeds for him.  However, I will also be one to admit that he’s not exactly the best role model for Harry, as Harry sometimes even admits himself.  Sirius acts rashly a lot of the time and, as Hermione and Mrs. Weasley note, Sirius does have a tendency to act like Harry is James rather than his own person.  (Meaning he acts like Harry is his contemporary rather than someone 20 years younger that he should be caring for.)

I get why.  He’s lonely.  He wants a friend and Harry is nearly the twin for Sirius’s best friend.  It is an odd moment when you see someone who is basically a clone of the person you trusted most.  And while it doesn’t excuse Sirius from doing what he’s done, it does help explain why he runs so hot and cold sometimes with Harry.

Mr. Weasley

Arthur Weasley is probably by far the most constant father figure Harry has throughout the series.  Like Molly, he welcomes Harry into the family very early on.  I’m always very impressed by the fact that, even though they complain about not having much money (almost always out of hearing of Harry), they never complain about having Harry or Hermione around for weeks at a time.

I haven’t gotten to this part yet in Order of the Phoenix, but obviously the attack on Arthur is heartbreaking for the Weasley family and Harry.  Rowling herself admitted that she couldn’t quite take away this father figure from Harry’s life, and I’m glad.  Arthur is one of the few adult characters Harry can always rely on, no matter what.  He really needs that.

Hagrid

I saw someone say this recently on Tumblr and I kind of think there’s some validity to it.  While Hagrid’s a bit unconventional as far as father figures go, he certainly always wants what’s best for Harry.  He’s Harry’s biggest cheerleader (pun intended) and he always has faith that Harry is going to overcome every obstacle in his way.  This kind of confidence helps Harry so much in his life.  It’s as simple as knowing that Hagrid believes in him and he doesn’t want to disappoint Hagrid, of all people.  Hagrid’s faith in Harry is akin to Harry’s faith that Dumbledore will always be able to save the day.  It’s kind of inspiring, really.

And when Hagrid’s gone (like in Chamber of Secrets or at the beginning of Order of the Phoenix), Harry has a little bit of a melt-down.  He fixates on it.  Where has Hagrid gone?  How long will he be gone?  Is he ok?  It shows that he cares about him a lot.

I also think what makes this relationship different than Harry’s to either Arthur or Sirius is that Harry sometimes has to take care of Hagrid.  Hagrid’s not always the brightest or the most competent at most things, so it does fall to Harry, Ron, and Hermione to sort of be his emotional support and stand up for him.

So it’s a dysfunctional relationship between them.  Aren’t a lot of them that way?

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