J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels are among my favorite fantasy sagas that I have ever read.  I identified with Harry’s struggles with his temper, his dysfunctional upbringing, and his conflict with authority figures.  The following quote is from my favorite book of the series, Book Five or Year Five.  Phineas Nigellus hammers home some pointed observations about the teenage years during his interaction with the hero of the story.  It has humor and emotional resonance:

“‘I have just given it to you, dolt,’ said Phineas Nigellus smoothly.  ‘Dumbledore says, ‘Stay where you are.’

‘Why?’ said Harry eagerly, dropping the end of his trunk.  ‘Why does he want me to stay?  What else did he say?’

‘Nothing whatsoever,’ said Phineas Nigellus, raising a thin black eyebrow as though he found Harry impertinent.

‘Harry’s temper rose to the surface like a snake rearing from long grass.  He was exhausted, he was confused beyond measure, he had experienced terror, relief, and then terror again in the last twelve hours, and still Dumbledore did not want to talk to him!’

‘So that’s it, is it?’ he said loudly.  ‘Stay there?  That’s all anyone could tell me after I got attacked by those dementors too!  Just stay put while the grown-ups sort it out, Harry!  We won’t bother telling you anything, though, because your tiny little brain might not be able to cope with it!’

‘You know,’ said Phineas Nigellus, even more loudly than Harry, ‘this is precisely why I loathed being a teacher!  Young people are so infernally convinced that they are absolutely right about everything.  Has it not occurred to you, my poor puffed-up popinjay, that there might be an excellent reason why the headmaster of Hogwarts is not confiding every tiny detail of his plans to you?  Have you never paused, while feeling hard-done-by, to note that following Dumbledore’s orders has never yet led you into harm?  No.  No, like all young people, you are quite sure that you alone feel and think, you alone recognize danger, you alone are the only one clever enough to realize what the Dark Lord may be planning…’

‘He is planning something to do with me, then?’ said Harry swiftly.

‘Did I say that?’ said Phineas Nigellus, idly examining his silk gloves.  ‘Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have better things to do than to listen to adolescent agonizing…good day to you…’

‘And he strolled into his frame and out of sight.'”

(J. K. Rowling, Chapter 23, “Christmas on the Closed Ward,” Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, pp 495-496, 2003)


The Generation Gap


2 thoughts on “The Generation Gap

  1. Jeyna Grace says:

    Thats how every 15 year old would feel. Relatable when I was that age, these days though, the fifth book annoys me. Haha!


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