:::this is the way the world ends:::

Participate if you want…

We are all 1st years at Hogwarts School of Wichcraft and Wizardry. Taking turns sitting on the stool, wearing the Sorting Hat, we are all Sorted into our halls. I suspect I would be in Ravenclaw. For those willing to share, where do you think you might end up?


  1. J.E.

    I expect I’d be Sorted into Ravenclaw as well my friend.

  2. Ned

    Sorry it’s been five years since my last HP read; I’m afraid I can’t remember enough to play this reindeer game.

  3. J.E.

    You are totally a Gryffindor Ned.

  4. Tobias


  5. Pete

    I wasn’t going to guess for others, but would have thought tob to hufflepuff or ravenclaw, the former for the valuing of integrity and fair play, the latter for the emphasis on wits and smarts. Ned- always slytherin in my mind. sly and ambitious in a good way. I agree with JE on his.

  6. Tobias

    I was just kidding about the Slytherin comment…of course since I identify with Harry I’d want to be Gryffindor (also my favorite mythological beast has long been the Gryphon). However, I think I’d probably be a Hufflepuff. We do have to think of populating the other houses, after all!

  7. Shotts

    I’d like to think of myself as Gryffindor. Maybe Ravenclaw. Like Harry, I would perhaps have to struggle with certain Slytherin qualities and, as the Sorting Hat came down, would have to desperately think “Not Slytherin! Not Slytherin!”

    Maybe I’d have to make a new school, called Gryffinclaw or Ravendor or something…

    Toby would be Gryffindor, to my mind. Kind of a Neville Longbottom, perhaps. Hufflepuff maybe. J.E. definitely Ravenclaw. Peters probably Ravenclaw. Ned, either Ravenclaw or Slytherin, though I would hope his Ravenclaw tendencies would win out.

  8. Shotts

    And just to give a quick reading report: I’m most of the way through The Order of the Phoenix. It does feel like things are picking up in this one, though again, I can’t imagine why the story demands a whopping 870 pages. I think at least 300 pages should have been cut from the book, actually. But I am enjoying it, and enjoying how Rowling does try to thread the earlier stories into one larger plot sequence. I do find that my patience gets tried with many, many long-winded sections and chapters: it follows such a pattern of formulaic mystery novels: set up, set up, set up, intrigue, red herring, red herring, red herring, and then long-winded explanations at the end of how it all has turned out. I mean, Voldemort already returns at the end of The Goblet of Fire, and so I’m ready for him to be a truly central presence, not completely backgrounded yet again as he has been throughout the series thus far. Bring him on, for God’s sake! With so much exposition, I keep hoping the finale of each book will be worth it, let alone the finale of the series.

    Again: thanks for keeping all secrets, plot points, spoilers, etc. in places where I won’t read them. I’m assuming most of you now have finished The Deathly Hallows, so I’ll enter that conversation once I get there–which is, after all, only another 1,800 pages for me to go…

  9. Ned

    I have to confess that as silly as all this may be, I am a little hurt by this whole categorizing game. I guess it’s good to know what your friends really think of you and here we have it.

    And though I want to resist letting this get under my skin too much (since I haven’t read the books for years), I am left wondering what in my past behavior evidences slyness and ambition over other traits?

  10. J.E.


    Enjoy it while it lasts. I totally agree with you concerning all the exposition. There is even more in 6 and 7. But 7 has a lot more action to go with it.

    Embarrassingly, I’m so in love with the Wizarding world I don’t really care though. Somehow I’ve managed to squelch my inner critic. Or perhaps my inner critic isn’t paying attention.

    When the page count was released for Book 7 I was disappointed that it wasn’t as long as Book 5….

    Now I find myself reading recent interviews with Rowling to get more information which was edited out. Sad but true.

  11. Pete

    I think there is more in the books, Ned, if you are willing to look further. My goal was never to offend, but rather to initiate self-reporting and maybe further discussion, if willing.

    As for the Slytherin — sly, cunning, clever, resourceful, ambitious: these all sound like traits that made you a great practical jokester in High School and beyond. Your scathing wit and ability to think quickly have always been good qualities in my book. Your ambition to be an artist, and to take the route through New York, shows great perserverance and ability to navigate some pretty tough situations with cleverness and shrewdness.

    Despite the fact that Potters’ nemesis is in Slytherin, my intention was not malicious. I think the books would suggest that all four schools were important and enriched the others.

    Just a silly exercise, imprecise, and open to interpretation. Like you suggested, just an opportunity to see ourselves as our friends see us, and to open a dialogue perhaps about why they see us that way.

    Hope you pick up the remaining books. Shotts, would you recommend them?

  12. Ned

    I admit it is a funny and even ridiculous thing to be bugged by. I was just trying to be honest about how I felt about how the affiliations fell. Leave it to me to throw a wet blanket on any blog entry, as opposed to an invisible cloak…

    I guess it was partly that Toby only joked about being in that house – that he sees himself so far from it. And Shotts hopes that my “Ravenclaw” tendencies win out? Gee whiz. Who knows, maybe I do have the greatest propensity for the dark side. Who cares. It appears I was denied the freedom to choose to “self-report” or not.

    I guess it’s just that the whole thing IS so revealing. J.E., Jeff, and Peters in one house, Toby given a higher, nobler status – or at least portrayed as a loveable clown – and then me in a slightly more questionable, or arguably lower position.

    In all fairness, J.E. did not place me, at least cursorily, in Slytherin.

    Maybe it’s just that outsider complex that I’ve invented for myself at work here.

  13. Tobias

    For the record, I didn’t place you in Slytherin either Ned 😉 I saw you as more of Ravenclaw sort of guy. The High School and New York endeavors could equally be seen as “wits and smarts.”

    Also, I don’t think any of us are assigning a higher or nobler status to any of the houses — just as characteristics that remind us of one another (all the attributes are spoken of in a good way, even Petes says “sly and ambitious in a good way”). So I think in terms of morality, or at least morality in our minds, all of the houses are equal…just possessing different traits.

    Also, to defend the group a bit, you say you felt “denied the freedom to choose to self-report,” but I don’t think that’s accurate. In your earlier post, you mention that you hadn’t read the books in a while and didn’t feel like you could comment. So you did have the freedom of choice, and declined to self-report. Then, I think everyone else felt free to give thier opinions from that point about where they saw you. Opinons that I don’t think anyone meant more out of than to have a little fun with some juvenile sparring, but even that was done mostly in a positive tone.

    Anyway, this is meant to be encouraging and to let you know none of us think ill of you. And you’re not an outsider. Or, if you are an outsider — it’s because of the mere technicality you haven’t read 4 children’s books.

    Also, I still think I’m more Hufflepuff, and the rest of you Ravenclaw. So maybe I’m the outsider.

  14. Tobias

    By the way, if you do have the “greatest propensity for the dark side” — the dark side is sexier.

  15. Shotts

    And I would add, that the greatest heroes have the propensity for the Dark Side. Odysseus comes to mind, as does Luke Skywalker, and damn it if I won’t even put Harry Potter in that list. I think human complexity demands that we look into our darker selves–I am amazed and saddened by those who are unwilling to risk that kind of self-exposure.

    As for the Sorting Hat exercise, the reality is we’re a bunch of Muggles, or maybe Mudbloods at best. But I agree with Peters: all four halls are equal in some way and bring strong attributes to the whole.

  16. Shotts

    I finished The Order of the Phoenix last night. I’m hoping to catch the movie sometime in the next week, and see what the experience of reading the book first is like.

    I thought Book 5 was strong, but wanted Voldemort to take a more central role. He’s really only in one chapter in the whole 870-page book. I’m sad to hear J.E. report that Books 6 and 7 have just as much exposition and over-explanation. I simply think that the last books in the series are too long for what they are, and so, for me, much of the book becomes a bit self-indulgent.

    But I know what you mean about silencing your inner critic, J.E. I’m trying to do that, and to imagine myself at around ten reading these books. I think I can safely say that if I were a young reader, I certainly would have gotten into the Harry Potter phenomenon. Reading them now, I do find that I read parts of the books with excitement, but probably am reading the series more as a study of our culture, our reading habits, and the role of publishing and advertising on contemporary literature. I can silence that at times, but not wholly.

    But that said, I would recommend the books. I would not recommend reading them back to back, in the way that I am, because it does get tiring, repetitive, etc. I think they’re maybe best read one a year, rather than straight through.

    Again, for me, the really winning thing about the books is that they take young people seriously. The powerful theme, to me, is that adults need to speak the truth to their children, and that there are negative consequences for silence or for telling only partial truths. I like that the books don’t shy away from death, from anger, hatred, betrayal, and evil. I know I, as a young reader, could sniff out condescension a mile away, and I resented it.

    I don’t think I’m in love with the Wizarding world in the way that J.E. is, I would say. I think that’s because the Wizarding world is presented as a sort of alternate world to our own, going on, in a sense, side by side with our own contemporary reality. Magic is treated as a science, not as, well, magic. That feels very different to me than Tolkien or Lewis, where magic seems to be a sort of given in those worlds. Rowling’s Wizarding world feels like it needs to explain itself at every turn. It reminds me a little bit of when Lucas decided he needed to “explain” The Force in Episode I by bringing in all of this about midichlorians in Jedi blood, etc., instead of letting it be a powerful emanation of lifeforce and faith. In short, the magic of The Force was slighted. In a different way, perhaps, I think Rowling treats magic in her books. Perhaps this is just because we live in a more skeptical age, and we demand explanation. We can understand if magic is something learned, you go to Hogwarts to study, you take classes, you pass objective tests like O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s, and magic becomes somewhat contained. As someone brought up on the books and movies where magic is taken on faith, I guess I miss that feeling in the Wizarding world. It seems an important distinction, somehow.

    I enjoy the parts of the books that move along, contain more action, and actual confrontation of things, instead of the ongoing conversation, dilemma, social jockeying, and the like. It’s when the books move too far into indirection that I feel that so much becomes tangential. I’m hoping there’s more direct confrontation in Book 6 and certainly in 7.

    Ned, I would say you’re just fine not reading any more of the series. Perhaps when Eliot and Claire get a little bit older, these books might be fun and interesting to share together in some way. I do think the books are very well designed in terms of cover images, typeface, and the illustrations, and you would get a lot from that, if you haven’t already looked at them for those elements.

  17. J.E.

    Only a Hufflepuff would say that all houses are equal.

    Ravenclaw forever!


  18. Shotts

    I think I’ll say right now that I think the best book is Book 3, The Prisoner of Azkaban. It has as much or more richness and plot and humor and so on as any of the others that come after, and it’s about 250-300 pages shorter. With what J.E. says about the high amount of exposition in Books 6 and 7, I’m expecting to keep that same opinion. But we’ll see.

  19. Ned

    It’s funny that you bring up the art. I do like the black and whites inside the books and I liked some of the covers, though I have to admit that Mary Grand Pre has done better (I’ve read several picture books to Eliot that she has illustrated). I did not however like the cover of the latest book.

    Incidently, Mary Grand Pre was from Minneapolis (she attended MCAD), until the success of the Potter books allowed her to do whatever she wanted. She then promptly moved to Florida, which is not where I would have chosen to go.

    And I guess, I wanted to say to Shotts that my dark side is “exposed”, sometimes by my own “self-exposure” but more often by my spouse and children. They make it a bit more plain to see.

  20. Shotts

    Interesting about Mary Grand Pre. I do agree that the black and white illustrations in the interior are generally more compelling to me than the cover images. I wouldn’t have moved to Florida either, but then my illustrations aren’t adorned on 350 million copies of books.

    Yes, Ned, your Dark Side is exposed, by your own self-awareness, by us apparently, and I think your insight about certain Good Side and Dark Side tendencies being mirrored to you via your children is very interesting. Maybe that self-awareness is what would separate you from most Slytherin, and you’d really be Ravenclaw or Gryffindor.

    I hope you see a lot of the good things about you also reflected back to you through Eliot.

  21. Ned

    I just finished the final Harry Potter book. I want to see the movie, and also wanted to see what was ahead for Eliot, as he is very “into” Harry Potter right now.

    The entire discussion above seems quite ironic to me given the messages of the book.

    Like Harry, I’ll pick my own damn house. And since my favorite character was Snape, I, hilariously, choose Slytherin. There’s something about his dwelling on the fringes of both sides that I quite relate to – not so much in a good and evil sense, but in other ways.

    It was bizarre how unsatisfied I was with the entire last book until Harry reveals his son’s middle name. I was wanting so bad for one of his kids to be named Severus it was very strange how fulfilled I felt. Somehow, it made everything that had happen take on a greater significance, and was, for me, the most satisfying part of the entire last book. I had already suspected from the other books that there was more to Snape and that he might indeed be doing Dumbledore’s bidding, but watching it unfold was enjoyable.

    I’m late in coming to this reindeer game; so perhaps this will seem “old hat” to all of you.

    Please don’t mention the suprises to Sara, as she hasn’t finished the last book.

  22. Shotts

    Ned–HIlarious that you have brought us back here, but kind of fun–also a little sad–to reread this line of posts and comments. And frankly, it IS hilarious that you choose Slytherin of your own free will, when we all suggested it as a possibility to begin with and then you got upset. Well, we can all stand affirmed, then.

    I’m curious about what messages you see in the Harry Potter books that make the whole discussion here ironic. Feel free to elaborate.

    I wish I were looking forward to the last movie, but because it has been split into two episodes, I feel the commercial enterprise of the whole thing overriding any real sense of artful storytelling. Why I even have that as a gauge for this series anymore is beyond me.

    We’re going to a wedding in Duluth this weekend, and it is a somewhat Harry Potter themed wedding. I wish I were kidding, but there are all kinds of references to the books in their invitation, their emails, and a web site they have put together for the wedding weekend. We’re going because the bride is Jen’s closest work colleague here in Minneapolis. I’m trying to go in with some kind of open mind, but it’s just hard to imagine taking this seriously. It makes me wonder how seriously they are taking their wedding, let alone their marriage. Maybe we’ll have to come into the wedding hall, and we’ll all be “sorted” in some way–in which case, I will report back with what school I was sorted into. There sure as hell better be butter beer to get loaded on, that’s all I’m saying.

    Ned, I was very unsatisfied with the entire last book, and Harry naming his son didn’t save it for me. I agree with you that Snape may well be the best character. But what a wandering mess that last book is. It may in fact be my least favorite in the series.

    I’ll read it all with Beckett sometime, no doubt, some years down the line, or read it through him, and my opinion of this series will probably change.

  23. Ned

    I agree that the last book was a mess. I felt as though she was working out her plot as she wrote. But I did like the revelations of Snape’s and the tragedy of his character best.

  24. Ned

    I also agree with you that book three is superior and I am glad the movie was the one directed by Alfonso Cuaron.

  25. Pete

    I am looking forward to being able to experience it all anew through my child’s eyes.

  26. Shotts

    Returned from the north country. The wedding was full-on Harry Potter, complete with wands, many wearing cloaks, and even a communal “spell” cast over the happy couple. The program for the wedding was a version of the Marauder’s Map. The wedding party was held at The Three Broomsticks; the far-off cottage belonged to Hagrid; the bride and groom retired to The Burrow. And yes, we were all, in fact, “sorted” into the four schools by a roster that the bride and groom drew up ahead of time.

    Jen and I were sorted into Ravenclaw. So the verdict is in.

  27. Ned

    Perhaps somewhat revealing how I continue to return to this old post, but I thought it funny that as I read The Order out loud to my family, they discussed the whole “which house are you in?” question. My entire family immediately without hesitation assigned me Gryffindor. This is because they have all decided that, of all characters, I am without a doubt Sirius Black. It is interesting as we talk, my kids do not identify me with any of the kid characters.

  28. Shotts

    Here we are again. Thanks, Ned, for remembering this post and bringing it forward.

    I think once you have selected of your free will the school of Slytherin, you are in Slytherin. Not even the power of the Gannon family can sort you out and into Gryffindor. Yet, I can somehow see their comparison to Sirius Black, which I think you should accept with no small pride.

    And once you are an adult, no child will see you otherwise. It seems to be a real distinction they carry with them. So I’m not surprised Eliot and Claire did not compare you to Harry or Ron or Neville.

    Incidentally, the couple who got married in the Harry Potter themed wedding (I chronicled this in a few comments above this one), went to the first midnight showing of the latest movie dressed as Slughorn and Luna.

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