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Harry Potter and "Don't Stop Believin'"

Pottermania is revving up, and Maclean’s books columnist Brian Bethune has a thoughtful cover story about the imminent finale of the series. The burning question, of course, is whether Rowling will allow her hero to survive; to that end, Bethune polls various observers and gets mixed results. On the death side:

Last summer, a journalist argued in the Guardian newspaper that Harry’s demise would be one more valuable lesson from the books: “Children have to learn to deal with death sooner or later, it’s the reason they have hamsters for pets.” A Times writer struck a similar mordant note — let Harry be killed, because that “would be less confusing than for him to grow up to be an accountant.”

But University of New Hampshire lit prof James Krasner takes the opposing view:

“No, Harry won’t die,” Krasner confidently asserts. “And he shouldn’t die. It wouldn’t be as good a story if he did. It would be like Bach going atonal in the last few bars of a cantata: you wouldn’t say ‘How interesting. That must be what makes it art.’ Harry’s death would be so out of step with the rest of the books — a violation, for one thing, of the basic school story. There’s never been one of those where the main character dies.”

There’s also a practical angle to consider. As Bethune notes, by killing Harry, Rowling would remove any temptation to go back to a character that she may well be ready to leave behind. Of course, Arthur Conan Doyle tried the same thing with Sherlock Holmes, and ended up resurrecting his detective anyway.

Oh, and in case you missed it, a few weeks back Slate had a proposed Harry Potter finale, Sopranos-style.