Laura Erickson's For the Birds

Monday, July 23, 2007


Please do not click on the following link if you have not read at least through page 57 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, since it contains a major spoiler. To protect those who haven't read that far, I'm writing my comments on a separate page: Hedwig and the Deathly Hallows.

Comments WILL be allowed to discuss this, so please don't read any comments associated with this post if you don't want to know about the spoiler.


  1. At worst, Rowling killed Hedwig in the first scene because she'd be an inconvenience when Harry was Disapparating to a new location every day. I think it likelier that Hedwig died so early because of the emotional impact her death would have on Harry: her death would cause him more pain and guilt than any human friend's.

    I agree that Hedwig deserved a better death than she got. But the same is true of most of the human casualties. Too many of them were wounded or died just because a shot aimed at someone else went astray. I think the major characters deserved better than an offstage death, and we readers deserved better than such casual dismissal of characters we'd learned to care about.

  2. I personally SO wish that Hedwig had sunk her talons into Voldemort's wand arm. I think all the other characters we loved who died offstage still were allowed to die heroically. Hedwig had no choice whatsoever. I'd have loved for her to show Harry her love by somehow fighting for him.

  3. On the other hand, that's what you get when you have an owl in a cage--an easy target for Death Eaters. Harry hadn't done Hedwig any favors there. Message to world--owls don't belong in cages.

  4. I finally finished the book and it was aweseome.

    Mike h.

  5. On the chat with jk. Rowling (cf. 30-07-2007) you can find something Rowling said about Hedwig and why she died. Look at I think, the death-eaters tried to force Harry to act, so he would reveal who the real potter was. I was shocked after I read this scene about Hedwig dying. Best, Katty

  6. Hi all,

    Ya, I thought that particular part of the story sucked and was completely unnecessary. The Owl could have just burst from the cage and flown off. Rowling did a particularly bad job with this story all over the place, she didn't have the passion that was notable in the other books. I think she was trying to get over it, and wind the story up.

    Like you, Laura, I wish that the owl had had some action in that battle, if Rowling had wanted that bird to die she should have at least made it an honorable death...

    Hedwig has been our friend though 6 books, and many of us have grown fond of her. That she was so unceremoneously dumped wasn't fair to those of who cared about her. She should have at least had the opportunity to fight against her demise.


  7. I agree with many of your comments. For a book that was.. *counts* a million pages long, I thought more detail could have gone into the rampant deaths that littered just 1 installment of the series. Hedwig definitely being a major shock/upset. Her demise left me blinking at the page going, "Whaaaa?"

    I've read that Harry's real lack of reaction to her death was because it was in the heat of battle, he had to focus on other things, etc. Sure, I can understand that, but at the same time, we were lead around by the heart by these characters for the past 6 books, so to have them unceremoniously die without real detail, honor, or explanation ( or any detailed feelings or emotions from Harry ) was really, well, disappointing. It really felt like "bam, you're dead. bam, you're dead. bam, you're dead. Moving on."

    What's worse is that the movies are behind... we'll still have to look at all of these characters in the next film, knowing they're going to be dispatched then next time 'round.

    Sorry to ramble but I just wanted to share my feelings that Hedwig was too loved by us to be brushed aside.

  8. The story is a mess throughout. On page 84 the Mudblood declares that shev has performed a memory charm on her parents to get them to emigrate to Australia yet, on page 115, she says that whilst she knows the theory of the memory charm, she has never actually done it.

    On the matter of Hedwig, there is the stupid comment by the oaf Hagrid on page 61:

    "'Never mind,' he said gruffly. 'Never mind. She had a great old life --'" What, stuck in a cage that would have felt as comfortable as a strait-jacket or sets of chains would to us? But perhaps that was meant to shew how stupid giants (and half-giants) can be.

  9. Well, in Hagrid's defense, Hedwig was normally caged only to be transported here and there except when the Dursleys made her stay in a cage in Harry's room. But there really is a sense that this character so many of us grew to love was just a prop, not a living, breathing being.

  10. The death of Hedwig I think shocked me more than any other character. I mean, seriously, what was the point of killing her? Like other people said, if Rowling didn't want to bother with Hedwig, there were other ways to leave her out of the book.

    I mean, look at the other animals. Pigwidgeon (probably spelled that wrong). He was no where in the book that I can remember. Nor was Crookshanks I believe. Sadly I can't remember these details at the moment. >.< But I'm pretty sure they weren't there.

    When I read the part about Hedwig getting killed I just sat there and stared at my book in disbelief for like... five or more minutes. No joke. I almost stopped reading right then and there.

    Now don't get me wrong, I loved Deathly Hallows and how she wrapped things up, but Hedwig's death was in my opinion a completly pointless event to take place.

  11. Hedwig actually escaped but none of the humans saw her fly off, including the author. She had enough of the wizarding battles. Owl disapparation, useful for long distance transoceanic delivery jobs. She disapperated in such a rush she just missed a few feathers. With Voldemort's hyped reputation everyone assumed the worst. She really retired to a quiet forest with cozy old hollow trees. Postal owls are unionized so they have a good retirement plan.. ^oo^

  12. Jeff, I LOVE that alternate explanation!! Thanks.

  13. I think you've missed the point here guys. the fact was that to the death eaters, indiscriminate killing is unimportant.

    We've spent TOO many years reading and watching stories where the good guys battle through and win. WHEN someone dies it's a majour scene.

    The truth is that it can be instant and impersonal. The deatheaters kill hedwig (albeit accidentally), but to THEM it's just another statistic. In fact they probably don't bother with statistics - lol.

    The fact that some of us just stopped there and said "WHAT!", is exactly what the author was after.

    Think of Cedric. There's no build up to his death. NO long winded pre-amble. Voldy says 'kill him' and Wormtail does. End Of!

    I feel tha, in order to show the TRUE horror of the situation, Rowling needed to PROVE to us that noone was safe. Moody dies at the same time too. None of us are upset about him, because we're LESS involved.

    Dobby TOO, is a reminder. (I was MORE upset about that).

    By using this method, we're constantly kept on our toes throughout the book and have NO idea who might snuff it.

    HP may finally win out, but there are NO happy endings in this book. THAT'S more true to life than nearly any other book/film out there. You may not LIKE it, but it worked...

  14. I think YOU miss the point. To the Death Eaters, Hedwig's death is of course just a statistic, or not even that. But to Rowling and Harry, it should have been MUCH more than that. But it was barely a blip in the storyline. It was as if she wanted the readers to be, like the Death Eaters, taking deaths just in stride.

  15. But that's exactly the POINT. Rowling wasn't writing the book from HER perspective. HER beliefs and opinions about the characters would NOT be accurate within the HP world.

    I remember Harrison Ford saying that his character Han Solo should be killed off during the 2nd movie as a. he felt the character had served it's purpose and b. because it'd make the audience sit up and wonder! The mere fact that you've got these pages and we're all talking about this ONE point is proof enough that such tactics within a book work.

    Read any Grishem, Deaver, Brooks or even Tolkien and the good guys win out in the end. All we lose in LOTR is Boromir - not exactly a goodie and even Smeogal's sacrifice is in the persona of Gollum (the baddie). Rowlings decision to kill 'emotionally important' characters was a breath of fresh air.

    I will concede that Harry should have been more upset, but as someone posted earlier, he was too taken up with surviving at that point. Perhas a reflection during a slower part of the book MAY have been an idea, but certainly NOT at the time. He's only a young boy and , to be honest we'd ALL be concerned ONLY about ourselves at that moment. It's later that we'd reflect.

    But I STILL say it's weird that we spend MORE time over the Hedwigs and Dobbys of this world than we do over Moody, Fred, Tonks, Lupin and annoying little Colin Creevy.

  16. Considering that I'm an ornithologist who has a webpage about the owls of Harry Potter, it seemed a bit beyond the scope of my own work to comment on them.

    To me, the whole book was rather rushed, and I don't believe Rowling gave enough attention to most of the deaths. The one she handled the best was Dobby's. Yes--the whole thing was stunning for Harry, and perhaps too much for him to deal with. But Hedwig's death came on awfully early for him to take it so lightly. Had it happened farther on, after he'd dealt with so many other deaths, maybe. But not at this point. As a mother and a former junior high teacher, I've never known ANY child to be so untouched by the death of a beloved pet.

  17. I, myself, love and adore both Owls and Harry Potter. i was astounded when Jo killed off Hedwig. I certainly expected her to die, because she's too much of an important character not to die. But I expected her to die a noble and brave death--something like the way Fawkes did every time Dumbledore was in danger of death. Fawkes would swoop down and save him. Like the way Fawkes swallowed the Avada Kedavra in the 5th book. Or like the way Fawkes saved Harry in the 2nd one. I expected SOME sort of crowning glory for Hedwig.

    And yet, there was none.

    I cried for at least an hour after I read that one line. I mean, Hedwig! One simple zap from a Death Eater's wand and she's dead.

    I totally agree from your perspective. And she SHOULD have appeared in the forest, when Harry was going to confront Voldemort. I mean, she was Harry's closest friend and connection in the wizarding world and in the Muggle world! She should have appeared, somewhat on James' arm or Lily. At least.

    *sigh* I still loved the last book, even though Bella, Hedwig, and Tonks were all killed off (my favorite characters. I shoulda saw it coming)


  18. I think you are absolutely wrong. forst, the point was not to eliminate Hedwig for the sake of inconveniency, but to create emmotional impact. Surely anyone of intelligence would see that.

  19. I may or may not be a person of intelligence--that is for others to judge. But don't call me Shirley.

  20. And also, i think you all shouldstop crying about "undeserved deaths" and "unfair dismisal". for example, if JK had given Fred an epic battle sequence in which he died fighting bravely, it would have ruined the story because that just doesn't happen in real life. That is a mistake that many authors make: they add far too much action-don't get me wrong, action is good. But it has to be believable, right? So if every character's death was elaborate and major death scene, it would destroy the plot. Besides which, did Moody not go down bravely? I don't see what you all are complaining about.

    And by the way (being a writer myself) I rather liked the effect of the characters' deaths. I think the fact that the others either got there too late to do anything or were unable to help even if they were there when it happened gave the story a very nice color.

    But that's just oppinionated old me! I'm not asking any of you to agree, here.


  21. Since Hedwig was the first death, Harry should have been more stunned and sad. Instead, the entire thing was dismissed in a couple of sentences. I'm only a non-fiction writer but I've also been a teacher and a mother of young adults, and NO high school aged kid would get over something like this in moments, as if it had never happened. It's not like Hedwig died during a time when many others were also dying yet.

  22. That is a good point. However, Harry has experienced the deaths of some very important people recently: Dumbledore and Sirius, both of whom he was much closer to than Hedwig. Not much time has passed since Dumbledore's death, mind you, and at the beginning of the 7th book Harry is still getting over the loss.

    I might also add that not everyone reacts to grief in the same way. I know that as a child, I rarely ever cried. After losing my grandfather at age 9 I was very quiet and solidary for a time, but I was never a crier. The same applies to the two instances when I lost my dogs. Harry his human, of course, but when Hedwig died, it was so instantaneous and shocking that it was like he was having a rug pulled from beneath his feet. Harry did not have time to react, as the Death Eaters were close behind him, and after he escaped there was rarely a moment of peace for some time. Even late, once there was time to think on things, not only did Harry have much else to think about (things that would effect him and the others immediately) but the human mind also tends to glaze over things that are painful, especially in the state of stress that Harry was undoubtedly in. I know that when I experience something shocking or extremely sad my instant reaction is to think of other things and block it out.

    You may or may not agree. Again, I mean not to argue, but simply to express my opinions.

  23. remember that this is a book full of magic so more valliant battles are possible so fred could have had a better death, but the same to Hedwig. I'm 12 , and if Hedwig was mine, I would have sulked about her death, but I still like Jeff's story best.

  24. i agree with sam really, the death of hedwig was a blow but then Harry had to cope with worry for his friends and more loss. i have to admit, the death of mad eye shocked me as much as hedwig, i had come to like him a quite bit.
    although it its terrible for so many people (including hedwig) to die, it *does* add to the book and, if anything, enhance it. or i might just be insensitive.

  25. The death of Hedwig hit me harder than any of the humans killed. I stopped reading the book for about a week after that, just because it sort of offended me.

  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

  27. I agree that Hedwig should have had a different death. But I also agree with some of the comments that it would have just been a hassle for Harry to have to carry around his pet bird with him moving around every day- day and a half. but i personally think that also a better way to have had had her to take her out of the story would to have a spell bounce off the cage, the door springing open and Hedwig fleeing 'cause she's total freaked out of her mind. Then, them having an air-born battle on the move not being able to keep up and losing sight, and hearing range of them.

  28. Sometimes, there isn't any way to escape. I think that the author was trying to portray that - sometimes there just isn't any way to prevent the loss of someone we love. Their house burns down, they're killed in a car accident, they die of disease. I cried when Hedwig died! I do believe that Ms. Rowling was trying to show that despite the death of those you love - in Harry's case, his parents, his godfather, Dumbledore and Hedwig - Harry had to go on, he had to do what he eventually did.

  29. I do hope the movie does a better job with it than the book did. It was so fast and then that was it. Harry didn't seem sorrowful at all.

  30. I so totally agree with you on this... it would have been awesome to have Hedwig sink her talons in Moldie Voldie's arm or something.

  31. (Hi! Stumbled onto this blog while looking for information about the Little Owl.)

    Anyway- I completely and entirely agree about how unceremoniously the poor little dear got the bump-off- it was one of many reasons why I think the book is the weakest of the series. Even my parents thought it was a really meanspirited act, and they're not fans.

    (They kept coming into my room every hour or so to ask who'd died though...)

  32. Janice was having trouble posting comments but writes:

    While stipulating that no animals were actually harmed in the making of the Harry Potter series – so I suppose that the author can write whatever she wants – I am truly disturbed by how Hedwig died (and this reaction from a casual, vacation, reader of the series). I respect Rowlings, and her tone is usually pitch perfect – but this just feels like a writer gratuitously messing with her readers’ feelings. First, the poor animal is understandably mad at Harry because she has been cooped up in a cage, and then she dies an accidental death because she, who can fly the world, is still stuck in that cage – and then, for added effect a moment later, Harry blows up the sidecar with her cage still in it! Aw, come on Rowlings! That’s just gratuitous cruelty.

    Obviously, innocent and helpless victims die in war – but I can’t see how this particular death advanced the plot. It also seems nonsensical. I’ve never learned all the details of the wizarding world. But what on earth kept Harry from simply releasing Hedwig, and having her meet them elsewhere later – or be free to join the battle? She had flown all over the world. What was keeping her from flying now?

    Leaves me very grateful that I’m not Rowling's pet.

    The title of Temple Grandin’s new book is ‘Animals Make Us Human’. I treat real people with real PTSD, and trust me, losing a beloved service animal is not something they take lightly, no matter how much combat death they have seen. Hedwig’s ‘disposable’ death lacks the humanity that Rowling so often displays, and Harry’s reaction (not much more than losing his Firebolt) is certainly dismissive of the deep bond that develops between humans and their animal companions.

    So on this matter, to borrow from another website, Hedwig gets 5 cheezburgers; Rowlings gets 0.
    - Show quoted text -

  33. I can't keep reading the book, I hate that hedwig was killed and how it was killed

  34. Hoory! The movie did a MUCH better job with this!

  35. I think Hedwig died in the manner that she did because Rowling wanted to start the book with the murder of innocence, like how Voldemort tried to kill a defenseless baby (Harry) in the beginning of the series.Hedwig, white as snow, was a symbol of innocence. Harry's loyal companion and messenger. By the end of the book, a lot more innocent characters die (i.e. Colin Creevey). To have Hedwig AND Dobby die trying to save Harry would be overdone. Also, we haven't seen Hedwig in an attacking role so that would be inconsistent with her character--Falkes was the attacking type.

  36. But she wasn't in a cage - at least in the version I saw.
    She was killed when she attempted to help Harry - and Hedwig was flying when that happened.
    It was a shock, but I was glad to see that she got some fight in. And who knows? We didn't see her body, maybe . . . ?

  37. This blog post was about the book, not the movie. The movie writers apparently didn't like the way it was written either!

  38. Well, some friends of mine, who talk about Harry Potter were somewhat insensitive that I hadn't read the 7th book (but now I have), so I knew that Hedwig was going to die, so I wasn't shocked when she did die. JKR incorporated really good ideas and messages into the book, but she just killed of characters like Hedwig that were a "disturbance" to the plot. Hedwig was totally not a disturbance or anything. I feel that Hedwig could've easily been incorporated into the wedding scene, and even into the camping scenes. She could've died, at the earliest, when Harry was at the Bathilda Bagshot's house.

  39. While on the subject of Hedwig's death, I feel like the scenes where Harry mourns for the dead where just included for the sake of being included. It comes across to me as he isn't really terribly sad, and gets over these terrible deaths awfully quickly, much more quickly that I would.

  40. I loved the books and I thought that with all the deaths in the 7th book you cant put that much detail into every one, furthermore, if I had just lost a close friend like Hedwig, I would prefer it if people didn't make a huge fuss whilst I was grieving. Although I was very upset when Hedwig died and wished she had at least had a proper burial of some sort.

  41. I think that the point of Hedwig's death, dying in a cage without even the option to escape, was actually quite symbolic. She was a completely innocent creature who died in a cruel way; I think her death symbolized pure evil, and the death of Harry's innocence.

  42. Hedgwig died?? I have absolutely no memory of that.
    Oh, well, that's real life. We've all known some really fine people who died seemingly meaningless pointless (sometimes violent) deaths.

    1. I can see how you missed that Hedwig died, since you also clearly missed the entire points behind my criticism.