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Magic that unites us

Sam Stryker | Friday, November 19, 2010

As an Arts and Letters major, I often get “interesting” ideas in my head which I usually attribute to my sporadic sanity. For instance, I was thoroughly convinced Fr. Hesburgh had an apartment on the 13th floor of the library (which apparently isn’t true). I am also afraid when I am swimming backstroke in a pool that a great white shark will come up from underneath and eat me. Crazy, I know.

One of the most comforting things in the world is when discovering the same crazy thought has been going through someone else’s head. This proves either I am not as crazy as I think, or someone is as crazy as me. This happened the other day in my Italian class when we were discussing “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” A girl thought our generation had found such a connection with the series because with every book and film we were approximately the same age as the characters.

What J.K. Rowling has accomplished is amazing. As you have undoubtedly heard our generation has been accused of being too focused on iPods, computers, television and video games when we look for entertainment outlets. Yet her story of a school-age wizard and his journeys has captured the imagination of our age bracket. Some like to attribute this to the amazing world she created and her attention to detail. Others point to the mythology of the series. However, neither is able to explain why Notre Dame food services felt compelled to hold a “Harry Potter Dinner” on Wednesday night where students dressed up as their favorite characters to be sorted into one of the four Hogwarts houses.

The real reason is we grew up with Harry and his friends. His struggles were ours — as we were headed off to middle school for the first time, Harry was being introduced to the wizarding world. As our generation was going through our awkward teenage years, Harry and Ron were struggling to land dates to the Yule Ball. We are always able to relate to one of the characters — hardworking Hermione, noble Harry or loyal Ron. You didn’t just grow up with the characters on your own — part of the experience is talking about the books with your friends, and dressing up for the midnight premieres of the movies. Now, just as we are about to embark into adulthood, Harry is looking for Horcruxes, and becoming a man as he tries to defeat Lord Voldemort.

J.K. Rowling has gone on the record as saying she doesn’t plan on writing any more books, and with the film series drawing to a close, it looks like a chapter in the life of our generation is finally ending. Nothing will compare to the collective experience of growing up with Harry Potter. For me, seeing all the students dressed up in Gryffindor robes and scarves Wednesday night, lined out the door of the dining hall is just as powerful as seeing the student section wearing “The Shirt” on football Saturdays. Despite our crazy schedules and the technology that is drawing us apart, a little bit of magic can always draw us back together.

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Sam Stryker at sstryke1@nd.edu