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December 29, 2002 - January 4, 2003

RE: Crouch in 9 parts


Some Crouch responses here. I had been trying to wait patiently for Eileen to finish up her responses, so that I could combine these, but since Eileen seems to have been eaten alive by the two-headed Exam and Holiday monster, I guess I'll just abandon that plan.

The Catlady (whom I kept up all night earlier this month with my obsessive Crouching -- sorry, Catlady!) wrote:

Is it Livius Junius Brutus (in post 2 of 9) or Lucius Junius Brutus (in post 3 of 9)?

The dude's name was Lucius. Lucius Junius Brutus. That "Livius" must have just been a kind of leakage from "Livy." It's not even a proper Roman praenomen. Sorry 'bout that. I must have been fatigued while typing.

I know it's very impolite to make personal comments, but ... you have shown no signs of being a dedicate servant of an Evil Overlord.

And I know that it's very OT to respond to them, but ... thank you! ;-) Of course, no Evil Overlord (or his agents) ever approached me when I was 17 or so. If one had, I don't like to think about what might have happened. It was not precisely a high point in my life.

'Course, I do like to think that I might have managed to do a Snape. I rather suspect, though, that I would have been a lot more likely to grow up to be...Avery. Or maybe Karkaroff. Why else do you think that I sympathize so strongly with those sorts of characters?

I can NEVER remember what the four loves are, but isn't Junior's devotion to Voldemort (which is dictating his actions once he escapes his father's Imperius) some kind of love?

Oh! Oh, this is so terrible! I sat down to list the four loves, and I couldn't remember the fourth one! I typed in 'agape,' which is divine love, the love of man for God, or of co-religionists for each other. I typed in 'eros,' which is sexual or romantic love. I typed in 'philos,' which is the love between friends...

And then I just sat there, utterly perplexed, because I could not for my life remember what the fourth one was. I had to look it up.

The fourth love, of course, is 'storge.'

You know, storge? Familial love? Like, filial devotion?

::buries face in hands::

I really am a sad case, aren't I.

Storge. Right. Storge.

But it's an interesting question, isn't it? Barty Jr's feelings for Voldemort strike me as quite obviously displaced filial devotion. So does that mean that he's motivated by storge? Does love, of a sort, drive his actions?

Well, maybe it does. Maybe it does at that. I also do read his treatment of his father's body as a kind of deranged attempt to avenge his mother, which might also qualify as a twisted manifestation of _storge_. Certainly, I think that one of the saddest things about Crouch Jr's confession scene is the extent to which it shows him as very human. He comes across as schizoid, but not really as sociopathic. So perhaps he was motivated by a kind of love after all.

This would be in keeping with his role as a double to his father, IMO. In both cases, they are motivated by their own understanding of love -- and in both cases, they are shooting rather far from the mark.

In my opinion, which has a very poor track record....JKR isn't going to re-visit the Crouches, and therefore is not going to confirm or deny what was said under Veritaserum, but I think she intended that what was said under Snape's strongest Veritaserum to be truth.

I agree with you that JKR is extremely unlikely to revisit the Crouches, as sad as that makes me. So far in the canon, JKR has shown a tendency to treat her secondary villains as disposable commodities. My guess is that Crouch Jr. is just like Quirrell and Lockhart: one-volume characters.

I'm not so sure about that veritaserum, though. I think that we are meant to read a good deal of subjectivity into a number of Crouch Jr's lines in that chapter -- most notably "he loved her as he had never loved me." Also, I'd say that the subjectivity of Junior's final statement is rather strongly highlit. He is not, in fact, going to be rewarded for his loyalty or honored above all other Death Eaters or anything of the sort. He is about to have the soul sucked right out of his body by a dementor, one of his master's "natural allies." With that statement, I'd say that the author is showcasing Crouch Jr's lack of objectivity and insight quite deliberately, and she's doing so for ironic and pathetic effect.

We are meant, I think, to be reminded of the fate of the unfortunate Quirrell, and of Dumbledore's comment about how Voldemort discards those no longer of use to him. I think that the statement is also meant to draw the reader's attention to the running motif of misplaced loyalty that dogs the Crouches like a kind of family curse. Barty Jr's loyalty to Voldemort is misguided, just as his mother's faith in him was misguided, and just as Winky's and Percy's faith in his father was misguided.

So on the whole, I don't feel that Barty Jr's confession is meant to be read as objective truth. There is, however, probably no way to prove this one way or the other.

Bel wrote:

"Hallo! I'm not sure that I'm really ready for TBAY, but I did want to ask a question. I'm Bel, by the way."

Hi, Bel! And a very belated welcome to the list. (You seem to have settled in perfectly nicely by now all on your own, but I've been away, so...er...well, welcome anyway.) Feel free to jump into one of those TBAY threads any time, by the way, and please don't worry about the format. You absolutely don't have to use that fictive style if you don't feel like it.

"I was just wondering -- in light of everything you've said about Crouch, Sr and Winky, isn't it also suggestive that Barty, Jr. changes his father's body into a bone? Maybe you have to know American slang for that to be obvious, but changing his father's body into something that's a metaphor for...well, you know...male anatomy...certainly suggests a few things to me about the way he felt about his father and his father's behavior. It certainly ties into the reasons Elkins is postulating for Junior's disappointment, doesn't it?

Hah! Excellent (if slightly Bent) point! You know, I never even considered that? That's great. Is that just American slang, though? If so, then it's probably not what the author had in mind, but hey. Who cares? The author is so dead! ;-)

"I've always wondered, though, if Crouch, Sr. being turned into a bone just before Voldemort needs 'the bone of the father' doesn't tie together somehow...

I think that it does tie together thematically and symbolically, definitely. It helps to establish the Crouch family drama as a kind of echo of the Riddle family drama, and Crouch Jr. as a literary double to Voldemort. I also see a strong linguistic connection between the "bones" of these doubled victims of parricide and the "skeletons in the family closet" which both Crouch Jr. and Voldemort represented before they each turned the tables on their fathers, so to speak, transforming their fathers into the buried hidden bones, while they themselves emerged into the light.

(I wrote quite a bit about this back in May of this year, btw. If you're interested, the message number is #38398. It's really a post about Neville and Harry, but it's also got quite a bit of Crouch Jr. and Voldemort in it.)

On the level of the plot, though, I don't really think that the two events are connected -- in other words, I don't think that Crouch Jr. was consciously attempting to emulate his master or to offer a kind of homage to him when he chose to transform his father into a bone. Crouch Jr. himself doesn't seem to have been appraised of the details of the ritual that Voldemort was planning on using to achieve his reincorporation. He questions Harry quite intently about these details, and his "hiss" when Harry tells him that Voldemort took his blood indicates surprise to me -- if not outright alarm.

(It has been suggested on the list in the past that Crouch Jr's hiss might be the flip side of Dumbledore's infamous gleam, a notion which I find completely convincing. It seems to me that "Oops, Phoenix tears, I forgot!" Voldemort probably made a rather serious error when he chose to confide the full details of his plan to the one of his two servants who was an utterly mediocre student back in his schooldays, rather than to the one who took the 12 OWLS.)

So while I do think that the congruence of "bones of fathers" is very significant on the thematic and the symbolic level, I don't myself believe that it has any particular plot significance. Others, however, as the Catlady mentioned, believe that JKR might have been setting up another "rebirthing ritual" for Crouch Jr.

The Catlady wrote, about this theory:

Of course, some people are convinced that Junior will re-appear, getting his soul back by using some variant of Voldemort's spell for getting his body back because that spell uses "bone of the father" and JKR so carefully made sure that bone of Senior is available -- a plot device reason for transfiguring him into a bone and hiding it that has nothing to do with wizarding opinion of what is to be done with dead bodies ...

Yeah, I've seen that theory. I've never been able to subscribe to it myself, though. For one thing, like I said before, I really don't think that JKR is planning to do anything else with Crouch Jr. For another, Crouch Jr's problem isn't that he's missing a body. His body isn't his problem. It's his soul that's missing, and I see no reason to believe that the bones of ones father would be of the slightest bit of use in recovering that. And finally, I don't believe for a minute that poor old Crouch Sr's body is still lying around in Hagrid's pumpkin patch for any old person to come by and disinter (or for Fang to dig up and chew on, for that matter). Surely once Dumbledore learned what had become of it, he would have seen to it that it received a decent burial, don't you think? I suspect that the bone that was Crouch Sr. was retrieved and then given some form of proper disposal even before the Leaving Feast.

Then, there's also the fact that I can't believe for a moment that JKR would offer a "cure" for the Dementor's Kiss in such a manner. The Kiss has been quite firmly established as permanent, irrevocable. "There's no chance at all of recovery," Lupin says in Ch. 12 of PoA. The Kiss is scary. It's horrific. It's part of what makes the idea of the dementors joining forces with Voldemort so terrifying. It is the Potterverse's Fate Worse Than Death, and it is highly dramatically effective as such.

JKR would have to be mad to throw all that away just to bring back a secondary character, or to provide her villains with a subplot that would by necessity have to be happening mainly off-screen. She's far too canny an author ever to do such a thing, IMO. If JKR did ever produce a cure for the Dementor's Kiss (which I doubt she ever will), then I'd say that it would have to be a major plotline for Harry, and the victim that it would be used to save would have to be a beloved character, someone that both Harry and the reader genuinely care about. Someone like Sirius Black, for example. Or (heaven forbid!) Ron. I don't believe that she'd ever do it just to bring back a secondary character like Barty Jr who, as much as I may personally have adored him, really has already played out his dramatic purpose in the story.

But while I was reading this part of your discourse, I was heard to clearly say: "Oh, shit" because I thought you were about to prove that Mrs. Crouch had NOT gone to her horrible death of her own will, but rather her husband had bullied her into it with remarks like "It's not such a big sacrifice for you; you're already dying" and "What kind of mother could let her child suffer like that?"

Wow, you must really think that I hate Crouch Sr, eh? Now where on earth could you have received that notion, I wonder. ;-D

Nah. Believe it or not, I really wasn't trashing poor Mr. Crouch's character just out of spite. (Well...not just out of spite.) I was just trying to explain how I read him, that's all.

Althooooogh...

::brief inner struggle::

No. No, I still can't make myself believe it. I think that what little we see of Mrs. Crouch in the Pensieve scene is perfectly consistent with someone who would have wanted to save her son's life without having to be bullied into it.

'Just so you know, boy, I would have happily left you to rot in Azkaban, if only your sainted mother hadn't forced my hand with that blasted dying request of hers.'

I don't think that's so implausible, at least maybe phrased differently.

No, and neither did Eileen.

To tell you the truth, even I wasn't so sure that it was all that implausible, really, which was part of why I wrote Eileen responding ambiguously there, rather than forcing her to mouth yet another one of those godawful Socratic Dialogue Stooge lines ("Why, that is true, Elkine!" "It is indubitably so, Elkins!") that I kept smacking her with all throughout the novenna. ::apologetic grin at Eileen::

Yeah, I guess that I can imagine Crouch Sr. telling his son something of that sort in a moment of stress or exasperation -- and I can certainly imagine him doing so in a fit of temper. So I suppose that it is possible that Crouch Jr. was going by what his father had told him. I still don't believe the story, though. After all, the things that we say while stressed or exasperated or angry are often not entirely true (Crouch Sr., after all, is the same man who bellows "you are not my son!" when he's in a temper), and as I said in Part Six, Crouch strikes me as having been far too deeply invested in keeping his son alive for me to believe that he didn't really want to save him in the first place, even apart from any dying request his wife may or may not have made.

My year 2000 searches on mythology websites all found that an "alastor" is a spirit of vengeance, a male nemesis.

Oh, Catlady! I didn't know that! Thank you!

[I suggested that Crouch Jr. likely mistreated his father in order to demonstrate his loyalty to Voldemort]

A horrible thought in connection with the recent discussion that Dumbledore has persuaded Snape that Snape will win his way back into Voldemort's trust by bringing him Dumblehead's head on a platter (CHOP: Cranium of Headmaster On a Platter).

Hee! I was sooooo sad to miss my opportunity to play on that thread while it was active, but I really loved CHOP. Now I'm hoping that it's true. Although I'm also hoping that the rather gruesome twist you suggest here (Severus proving his loyalty to Voldemort by handing over Dumbledore alive to suffer unspeakable torments) is not, because even I am not quite twisted enough to have any stomach for the thought.

Fortunately, I really don't really think that JKR is planning to get that dark with the series!

I wrote:

I mean, you have to figure, don't you, that the elves probably fill the Nanny role in those households?

The Catlady said:

I don't figure anything of the kind, primarily because there is nothing of the kind in the tradition of house elves, brownies, dobbies, all those names: they do the housework, sometimes even cooking, sometime shoe-making, during the night, unseen by the humans of the household. And the House Elves of Hogwarts do their work sufficiently unseen by the humans there that Hermione would never have learned their were House Elves at Hogwarts if Hearly Headless Nick hadn't told her.

Yes, that's true, but the house elves of folklore also don't leave their houses, or like having their work acknowledged in any way, and they absolutely do not like being thanked. In many folk stories, if you ever spot a dobbie at its labors, it will leave the house instantly, or even turn against you, and in British folklore, you're absolutely never supposed to thank the fae.

JKR's house elves, OTOH, don't really mind being seen -- their invisibility is the invisibility of a competent Edwardian servant, not of a folkloric brownie. The Hogwarts elves are perfectly fine with having visitors to the kitchen, and far from being insulted when Ron compliments them on their service, they positively beam with pleasure.

They also leave their houses to serve as personal servants, which their folkloric equivalents never do. Dobby accompanies Lucius Malfoy to Hogwarts at the end of CoS, and nobody seems at all surprised to see that Crouch chose to take his house elf with him to the QWC in GoF.

All of that leads me to read the house elves as a far more generalized slave or servant class than the dobbies/brownies of folklore. When Bertha Jorkins comes calling at the Crouch residence while the master is away, Winky seems to have taken on the role of butler-cum-parlor-maid before returning to her kitchens. They seem to me to fill quite a wide range of domestic functions.

I do take your point about size, though. The house elves would be rather too small to perform the Nanny role entirely.


[my suggestion that Crouch Jr's verdict of "disappointing" upon his father may have been due to his father's marital behavior]

Oh, Merlin's ba-beard! Those Crouches are in a social class where sexual fidelity in marriage doesn't matter, as long as the wife doesn't bring in any wrong-fathered offspring or be caught with a low-class lover! If Mrs Crouch whined and threw things just because her husband had affairs, she was even more manipulative and coercive and all that than I had thought when she was depicted coercing him into rescuing Junior.

Yes, but things often look rather different to the children of those families, particularly to those in the throes of an angry and idealistic adolescence. Mrs. Crouch doesn't need to have been kicking up a fuss for Barty Jr. to have taken it amiss. And besides, bedding the house elves could be viewed very differently than taking human mistresses would be.

But. That would bring us to Barty Jr. as Quentin Compson, which while it might not be quite as perverse as Eileen's Barty-as-Faramir, is nonetheless pretty stunningly anti-canonical.

If also very amusing.

("Why do you hate the wizarding world?" "I don't I don't hate the wizarding world I don't I don't I don't...")


I wrote, of one half of what I perceive as a strongly and rather disturbingly divided maternal role in the books:

The ones who get down in the trenches of the actual day-to-day dirty work of mothering, whose sacrifices entail living for their children, rather than just dying for them. That role...is filled by the house elves. Who are grotesque and faintly ludicrous.

The Catlady wrote:

Whose role was being filled by JKR herself at the time she wrote Book 1 and envisioned the whole plot of the septology.

Indeed. Which is part of what makes the divided maternal role so interesting, IMO. If JKR had been a wealthy or a childless woman while writing the books, or if she were a man, then I doubt that I would find it nearly so curious.

How can it possibly be misogyny for a woman to refuse to do loathsome and unpleasant slave labor, which no one really wants to do...and which is traditionally assigned to women only because women have traditionally been kept in the position of slaves?

It's not. It's only misogyny once one allows ones distaste for the labour itself to extend to a distaste for the people who traditionally get stuck doing it -- ie, women.

It is one of those sad facts of life, though, that someone always has to do the sh*t work. Naturally, it shouldn't always have to be the women. Then, in my household, it's never the women -- 'cause the woman is me, and I won't touch the stuff. I make the menfolk do it all.

I'd love to claim that this is just a case of redressing the balance, or something of that sort, but it's not, you know. It's really not. It's actually just because I'm neurotic, spoiled, manipulative, and profoundly selfish.

Then, I did mention that I felt a rather strong (and uncomfortable) sense of reader identification with Crouch Jr, didn't I? ::rueful grin::

—Elkins

(who doesn't agree that a woman who believes in doing her own domestic labor, rather than hiring others to do it for her, is necessarily misogynist at all, btw, but who guesses that maybe if she's going to tackle that issue, she should probably do it over on OTC)

 

RE: the twins are two people


Catlady wondered:

For that matter, if Fred and George had been able to put their names into the Goblet of Fire, could it have chosen one of them without the other as Champion?

And then Corinth screamed in frustration:

No! No, no, no, no! This is off topic, but I must rant. Twins are not one person! Of course the Goblet could have made a choice; they are two completely different people. nd I hope to God the school wouldn't make an exception and treat the twins as a single person.

Heh. Now, you wouldn't be a twin yourself by any chance, would you, Corinth? ;-)

But cheer up. Canon backs you up here 100%. Padma and Parvati are twins, and they were sorted into separate houses. Nor does anyone seem particularly surprised or stunned by this occurrence. So I don't think that we have to worry too much about Hogwarts (or magical artifacts like the Goblet and the Sorting Hat, for that matter) making unfair assumptions about twins or denying them recognition of their individuation.

When it comes to Fred and George, they do seem to enjoy the game of speaking with one voice, probably both because (as you said) it facilitates their love of mischief and also because it gives them an edge in the power dynamics of their large family. But the one glimpse we see of their behavior when they do not have an audience shows quite clearly, I'd say, that "Gred and Forge" is largely act. In _GoF,_ we see them quarrelling over how to proceed with Ludo Bagman. Tellingly, they believe themselves to be unobserved at the time. The instant that they realize that they are not in fact alone, they revert to their usual public behavior, putting up a united front against Ron.

Give me some time to look through the books and I'll give canon for the two different personalities.

A number of people have noted differences between the twins here on the list in the past, and several months ago, Richelle embarked on a full catalogue on their canonical appearances for just this purpose, although IIRC, she only got through the first book. I don't have any message numbers here right now, but an archive search might yeild some interesting finds.

IIRC, people usually find Fred to be the leader of the two: more aggressive and initiatory than George, but also rather meaner, more lacking in empathy. A couple of people have expressed concern for Fred, as they feel that if JKR ever decides to pull an "evil twin" plotline, Fred could prove vulnerable to temptation or corruption.

Oh! But now I see that Scheherazade said the exact same thing. ::shakes head:: I should really get up to speed before I start firing off replies, shouldn't I?

Please do post this to the list when you're done with it, Scheherazade! I know that many people would be interested in seeing it.

—Elkins

who once promised a full break-down of Percy appearances...but then never delivered. Er...maybe in 2003?

Posted December 31, 2002 at 11:28 am
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