Podcast Question of the Week – Episode 99

Father’s Day may be long past, but this week’s question of the week focuses on arguably the best father in the Harry Potter series, Mr. Arthur Weasley.

In this chapter. J.K. Rowling confessed she originally intended to kill Arthur Weasley. Keeping in mind that Sirius Black probably still would have gotten it at the end of the book, and considering how important Arthur is, let’s ponder how the books would have been different should this death have happened, and in this way, and at this place and time.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and tune in next week to see if your ideas are discussed on the show!

  • Bill White

    I think that he a very important character. Molly was already falling apart earlier in the book. If there was no longer Arthur as her anchor, I don’t think she would have been able to deal with Fred’s Death or any of the other issues with the weasley family. I also think that in order to coddle ginny some more she would have stopped her going back to hogwarts before dumbledore’s death and surely after it. I think that she would have moved away from the Hogwarts school district. In order to avoid the rise of Voldemort or she would have become a vigilante towards the death eaters and injured her children by not being there to hang on to in the times of strife.

  • Celestina Is My Homegirl

    This may be a long shot, but if Arthur had died at that point in the series, then there would be no guarantee that Harry, Hermione and the Weasleys would have done their school shopping on the day that Malfoy went to Borgin and Burkes, meaning that Harry wouldn’t have been so suspicious of Malfoy in his 6th year.

    In turn this would mean that Harry probably wouldn’t have used “Sectumsempra” on Malfoy. It was labelled “for enemies” and I believe that the only reason Harry regarded Draco as a true enemy and not just a school rival in that moment is that he suspected Malfoy of being a Death Eater.

    If Harry hadn’t cast Sectumsempra, he wouldn’t have necessarily needed to hide the Potions book from Snape, meaning he wouldn’t have found The Room of Hidden Things. Without this visit to the room, Harry would have never seen Ravenclaw’s Diadem and thus wouldn’t have been able to destroy that Horcrux during the Battle of Hogwarts, meaning Harry’s defeat of Voldemort would have been at best, delayed, or at worst, impossible.

  • Jen

    I can’t imagine how different the tone of HBP would’ve been. I mean, Harry and the Weasleys would all have been wrecked. Take how guilty Harry was feeling about ‘being’ the snake that attacked Mr Weasley, you pile on Arthur dying then Sirius going a few months later, then I’m pretty sure we’re looking at a very different Harry. A hugely different Ron as well, I can’t remember if it was JKR who said that killing Arthur would have forced Ron to grow up too soon or it was someone else, but that would’ve been very true. Hard to predict the knock on effect of the characters’ choices if JKR had gone through with it. Probably wouldn’t have had the Ron and Lavender story in HBP, maybe he and Hermione would have gotten together sooner and Ron wouldn’t have left in DH. Then could you argue that if he didn’t leave in DH, he wouldn’t have been there to come back at the time to save Harry and the sword? The possibilities become endless really.

    In terms of the Weasley family, it’s an interesting thing to consider, because poor Molly would have been left with 2 kids still to get through school and Percy wasn’t talking to the family at the time Arthur was attacked. Guessing he would’ve come back for the funeral, and wouldn’t that have been interesting! I’m also thinking Charlie was originally planned to move back home from Romania in this instance, that would explain why he’s the one Weasley we don’t get to know. I’m sure Fred and George would’ve still opened the joke shop but maybe put more emphasis on the serious side they developed. Would Fred still have been killed off if there was already one dead Weasley is what I would want to know the most, poor Fred…

  • loony_lauren

    If Arthur died in this incident followed by Sirius later in the book, emo-Harry would be taken to a whole new level.

  • GinnyButNotTheWeasleyOne

    I personally think that Arthur dying would have changed the entire Harry/Weasleys dynamic entirely. It’s entirely possible, at least in my mind, that Ron’s behaviour in Deathly Hallows with the locket could have occurred earlier in that he would have been dealing with a large amount of grief, depression, and anger (possibly towards Harry for not waking up in time to save his father?) that could have spiraled into the abandonment of the group lots sooner than the Forest of Dean. Not saying that it would be definite, but grief like that does change people.
    Another possibility that I considered was the Harry/Ginny dynamic. The grieving process does bring people together in a certain way, and I wondered if Harry would have interacted with Ginny more prior to book 6 had Arthur died. Naturally, Harry would be grieving as well, and I’m sure that he would have wanted to be with the Weasleys during that time. It very well could have sparked the closeness with Ginny that later occurred, but in a different manner. I’m not sure how a lack of Ginny’s firey spirit would have affected Harry’s attraction to her, and it’s also interesting to consider things if death brought them together. Would the Battle of Hogwarts been too much for them to handle? Or would Ginny be a different person altogether and become incompatible with Harry (her personality seems such a complement to his, and I don’t know that their relationship would work if they were TOO similar, both having lost important people in their lives)?

    TL;DR- Would the Weasleys be too far gone to be such an integral part of Harry’s life had Arthur died? I think they might.

    PS- first time poster, year long listener. Thanks for the great show, guys!

  • LeslieLovegood

    Because I love Lupin who basically died in DH because of Jo’s choice to save Arthur, I have often wondered what it would have been like if Jo had given Arthur the axe in Order. The thing I can’t get past is that I can’t see how Harry would have survived Arthur’s death and still been prepared to do all he had to do to defeat Voldemort. The Weasleys are the only family that Harry has ever known, and he often thinks of the them as a model type family. With all their quirks, Harry longs to have what they have. When Harry sacrifices everything to stop Voldemort, he’s doing that for several reasons, one of which is to protect that idea of family, to stop Voldemort from ripping apart more of them. If the patriarch of the only family that Harry has left is taken from him, I’m not sure I see him having the strength to go on. Harry is also so self deprecating that I can see him really distancing himself from the rest of the family, whether that’s what they want or not.

  • Bellamort

    I really see Arthur as the glue that holds the Weasley family together, and the Weasleys, along with Hermione, as the glue that holds Harry together. Molly and Arthur step so perfectly into the role of adoptive parents to Harry. They certainly would have taken him in in a heartbeat, and I feel as if having this stand-in family is often the only thing that keeps Harry grounded. I think Arthur’s death would have destroyed them, and altered Harry’s relationship with them irrevocably. Harry, as we know, has a huge guilt complex. It goes along with his “saving-people thing”. He can’t help feeling responsible for things, and I believe the guilt in this situation would have damaged him possibly more than Cedric and Sirius combined. I think that it would have caused him to distance himself from them, and although they would never blame Harry and would have done all they could to assure him it wasn’t his fault, I think that there would have been some unspoken resentment that would have permanently altered Harry’s relationship with all the Weasleys. Resentment comes unbidden and is once of the most difficult things to truly let go of. On a bigger picture note, Dumbledore’s endgame would have been altered. He may have had to let Harry and the Weasleys in on a bit more than he ever intended to in order to keep Harry and the Weasleys in each other’s lives, or Harry would never have had the strength to sacrifice himself to save the world.

    • ChocolateFrogRavenclaw

      totally agree! Harry would have been completley lost without Aruthur

  • AstroBlack

    Okay. I’m not much for speculation. On the other hand, I want to comment about why Rowling might have elected not to kill Arthur so early under the assumption that her editors were not the only ones who thought long and hard about this decision.

    I read this passage (this time) through Rowling’s episode when Harry and Dumbledore finally speak at the end of the book. I think Rowling would agree with Dumbledore that she was afraid to expose Harry to too much too early. I believe her fear of exposing him to too much–y’all mentioned last week she intended to reveal quite a bit about Snape in CoS–was mainly her (possibly?) calculated refusal to expose Harry too early to the most serious truth he had to face: that he himself had to (SPOILER ALERT [is this your first time reading?! If so, I hope you’re my sisters because I want them to read the novels!!]) die. I imagine she was afraid to pull back the curtain [allusion] for Harry too early. In this sense, even though I think she had a relative idea of the outcome of the series, she loved Harry too much to expose him to the possibility of his own death too early… I also wonder to what extent this connects her fairly omniscient narrator with Dumbledore.


    • AstroBlack

      Feel free to ignore the hyphenated or parentheses’ed sections because they are narrative on narrative on narrative #narrative-ception.

  • SlytherinKnight

    I do think that if Arthur had died in OotP, the series would have gone in one of two different directions; first, Harry would have just gone to pieces because he would have blamed himself even worse than Cedric, so pretty much emo-Harry on a huge scale, or Harry would have pushed everyone away from him in hopes of keeping them safe and he would have hardened himself to do whatever was necessary to stop Voldemort, and possibly gone down a Dark-path to take revenge on Voldemort for killing arguably the closest thing to a father that Harry had ever been around.

    Also, question, why wasn’t guard duty in the DoM given to teams? You would think that if there had been another Order member with Arthur helping guard the prophecy, then the alarm would have been raised much quicker and perhaps he wouldn’t have been injured so badly and maybe even Nagini is captured during the attack.

    Another question that popped into my head, is the guard duty around the DoM, are they to stop Death Eaters from getting into the DoM or to stop Harry from getting in if he were to recognize the corridor? We see in future chapters that Voldemort becomes aware of the connection between Harry and he at this moment. Just a thought.

  • ChocolateFrogRavenclaw

    I think that Arthur’s death would have deeply scarred – if not ended – Harry and Ron’s friendship. Harry feels guilty just “being” the snake, and while Ron doesn’t blame him, it would be incredibly hard, every time you looked at your best friend, to know that he may have (even remotely) been involved in the death of your father. If the Harry/Ron friendship can’t survive, I don’t think Harry would have been able to track down all the horcruxes and take down Voldemort. Most of his driving force is love – especially love for his friends – and I think a fair amount of that love would have been replaced by guilt.
    But, if Harry and Ron’s friendship did survive, I still think there would be major repercussions. I think the Order would not have been as established – Arthur was a key player in the ministry. However, I do think it would have brought the truth of Voldemort out sooner. It is easier to cover up an injury then a death. That said, because of the grief and disorganization that surrounds death, I don’t think the Order would have been prepared to fight Voldemort. Arthur was the center of not just the Weasley family, but the Order as a whole. The Weasley family would have fallen apart, and despite the fact that hundreds (if not thousands) were instrumental in the downfall of Voldemort, they were close enough to the center that I think it would shave had drastic repercussions for the wizarding world as a whole.

  • If Arthur had died, then things would’ve become…more than somewhat different.
    The Weasley’s would’ve lost their leader. They would’ve gone into disarray to begin with. Then, Percy would come back doing his pompous dance of ‘I was head boy, so I should now be head of the family’, so Fred and George would enrol him back into the family with scouts honour and a stand in dumbest dad in the world badge.
    In addition to that, Harry would’ve blamed himself…sent himself into depression. Then when Sirius kicks the bucket he sends himself crazy. He would’ve ended up in St Mungo’s for psychiatric treatment.
    Then, Dumbledore would have to teach Ron and Hermione about the horcruxes. They learn and do the quest without Harry, because to be honest, the series should’ve been named ‘Hermione Granger and the…’ as Harry doesn’t really do anything for himself. When they finally realise that Harry is a Horcrux they turn ‘villain’, learn occlumency and go to Voldemort telling him that they can give him Harry Potter. They break in to St Mungo’s and give Voldemort Harry. Voldemort kills the Horcrux. Harry meets with Dumbledore, but due to his craziness and regrets chooses not to return. Then, Voldemort takes over the world and everyone dies.

  • Indigo

    Thefirst thing that I thought of when I imagined Arthur dying was the visit to St
    Mungo’s in the next few chapters. If Arthur had died, that hospital visit may
    never have happened, so Ron, Hermione and Ginny may never have found out about
    Neville’s parents. I’m not sure if not meeting the Longbottoms would have an
    effect on any other aspect of the story, but it would definitely be a shame if
    we had not gotten that scene.

    It was also during the visit to St Mungo’s that Harry and the
    others overheard Moody telling Arthur and Molly that ‘You-Know-Who’s possessing
    him’. If Harry hadn’t heard that, he might not have been as angsty for the next
    few days but, then, I imagine he would have been considerably more angsty
    anyways if he thought he had killed Arthur Weasley.

    In the long term, this is a stretch, but had Arthur been
    killed, they may not have all spent Christmas at GrimmauldPlace. Harry might
    not have seen Sirius, and Sirius may not have been there to find out that Snape
    was going to be giving Harry Occlumency lessons. It was the knowledge that
    Harry would be alone with Snape that prompted Sirius to give Harry the mirror
    just in case Snape gave him a hard time. If Sirius had not given Harry the
    mirror, he would not have been able to contact Aberforth from Malfoy Manor in
    DH, and Dobby could not have rescued them. I know it’s a stretch, and Jo would
    probably have found a way to give Harry one of the most important items in the
    series anyways, but, hey, it’s just a thought!

    • ChocolateFrogRavenclaw

      Didn’t even think of the Sirius and Occlumency angle – butterfly effect is a dangerous thing to thin about… haha. So interesting that the entire series can almost rest on that one moment…

    • This was my first thought too – no St. Mungo’s visit and no sad, sad Neville moments. True it would have been terrible to lose the scene as readers but also, this scene is crucial for Harry. Seeing what Voldemort has done to the Longbottoms and one of his friends in particular is a real catalyst for Harry’s motivation to continue on fighting Voldemort throughout the series. This is one of those experiences that bolsters one’s spirit or drive to carry something out. If Arthur had died, perhaps that would take this place and have the same bolstering effect. But I also think it’s significant for it to be Nevile, as a comparison for Harry to recognize that he is not the only one who suffers and that suffering is caused by Voldemort.

  • ChocolateFrogTheif

    I think Ron would have changed completely if Arthur had died. At first I think he would have been angry and irrational about Harry and his explanation that he was the ‘snake’. Then I think he would have been afraid, but after some rationality from Hermione and some healing, Ron would have been stronger in the later books. In Deathly Hallows, he would have been more dedicated to the Horcrux hunt. I don’t think he would have walked out as he would have had a better understanding of what it is like to suffer at the hands of Voldemort.

  • Hufflepug

    There are so many things I could say but two things I want to mention. First, the Weasleys are Harry’s biggest safe haven, especially at times when Hogwarts isn’t safe which happens so often in the last three books. Losing Arthur would mean losing the carefree joy that Harry has when he visits his friends at the Burrow. Suddenly Ron and the others would be grieving and forever sobered by the death of a parent, grief which Harry has already been dealing with for his whole life. Fred and George may not have continued with Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes until much later (and to add to the negativity, Fred’s eventual death may have left George in so much grief that he may have never gone anywhere with the business), Ron would have been less of a comic relief in Harry’s life, Harry wouldn’t have fallen for Ginny’s laid back and humorous attitude at the Burrow, and Molly may have either elected to run off with her children or to fight immediately and fiercely. I’m thinking the latter, since she has that Gryffindor spirit. I at least like to think that Percy may have realized his errors more quickly and returned to grieve with his family. Basically, any positive moments in the final books would have been shrouded in darkness because the Weasleys, who are one of the main points of happiness in the series, would be forever changed.

    Second, and this is more minor, but if Arthur had died immediately then they wouldn’t have spent Christmas on the closed ward, so Ron and Hermione wouldn’t have found out about Neville’s parents and Neville may not have become motivated to avenge their torture by working hard in the DA and eventually becoming a hero in the Battle of Hogwarts because it seems like that’s a pretty important moment for Neville in dealing with his self confidence and the state of his parents.

  • bent-winged-snidget

    If Arthur died, I think that the entire mood of Half-Blood would have been different. Ginny would have been less of a happy/excited person, and Ron would have been very moody (although, when is he not?). I do have a snowball-effect theory about what could’ve changed in the seventh book, but this is my first comment since I got caught up (even though I’ve been listening since the beginning), so it might be a bit unclear.

    In the DH chapter “The Ghoul in Pajamas,” Ron mentions that his dad helped Fred and George transform the ghoul to look more like a Weasley. Assuming that F&G wouldn’t be able to do that magic themselves, if Arthur had died, there would be no “sick Ron” at the Burrow. Therefore, when the Ministry came, they would have reason to suspect that Ron is helping Harry and have a Xeno Lovegood-esque situation occur and kidnap Ginny OR maybe even arrest Molly because attendance is made compulsory to Hogwarts (page 210 of the American edition). This would definitely change the Battle of Hogwarts – if Molly wasn’t there, who would kill Bellatrix with such a noteworthy line?

    Hope this makes sense, and I love the show!

    • ChocolateFrogRavenclaw

      Arthur did so much for his family and for the fight against Voldemort. Totally agree that the entire outcome would have been different!

  • Roonil Wazlib

    If Arthur had died, then I definitely see Harry cutting himself off from the Weasley family out of guilt. Hermione might continue to try to reach out to him, but also she would be fairly consumed by helping Ron deal with his grief. Harry would retreat into himself, becoming a quiet and depressed loner.

    In this situation, I imagine Hagrid would notice this change and would take it upon himself to reach out to Harry. Hagrid might become more of a fixture in Harry’s daily life as his only close friend who is slightly removed from the Weasley family. Plus, Hagrid lives at Hogwarts but not in Gryffindor tower, and thus could provide Harry with an escape from the rest of his life at school where he is constantly surrounded by the
    Weasley family. However, Hagrid is still not Harry’s peer, and he will never be his best friend. I don’t see Harry sharing his burdens with Hagrid the way he does with Ron and Hermione.

    Harry would probably still take on the horcrux quest, seeking revenge or even atonement for Arthur’s death. But he would do so alone, and Harry’s successful defeat of Voldemort without the help of his friends seems highly unlikely.

    • GinnyWeasley002

      Oooh… I love your theory about Hagrid! That’s brilliant! Reading through all these comments, I can’t even begin to comprehend the immense ripple effect Arthur’s death could have caused.

  • TrevorTheTurtle

    It probably would have changed Harry’s relationship with the Weasley kids in the short term. The only reason Harry stops believing he’s guilty of what happened is that Ron, Hermione, and Ginny sit him down and tell him that’s not the case. Since I don’t think Ron and Ginny would have exactly felt up to the task of consoling Harry after their dad just died (and Ginny is kind of the only reason he believes he isn’t possessed) he would have run off before Dumbledore could stop him. I also have no idea how Ron would have reacted, and since the adults are so unbelievably unhelpful here, all he’d have to go on is what Harry told him, that he turned into a snake and attacked his dad. He wouldn’t think straight right then, so he might have walked out one more time, if only for a short while. The twins were also kind of accusatory before Arthur was out of the woods, so there’s also that.
    In the long term, the Weasley family dynamics would shift completely, judging by how frightened Molly is since Order and how much she relies on Arthur to feel somewhat safe, there would be some serious overprotection on her part, and maybe Percy would be back, but I don’t see the big picture changing all that much as of the middle of Half-Blood Prince, as much as I hate to say it. Molly would have probably fought a lot harder to keep the trio from going Horcrux hunting in Deathly Hallows, although I also think that Harry’s and Ron’s resolve to go would also be that much stronger.

  • SnugglesWithNifflers

    I think that Arthur’s death could have helped Ron better relate to Harry. With both of them losing their father figures within a few months of each other (assuming Sirius would still die in the veil), Ron would have had a whole new empathy for Harry’s struggles. I believe they would have grown closer in their shared grief, and Ron never would have left in Deathly Hallows. He would have had more of a personal reason to want Voldemort gone: to avenge his father’s death. Ron would have indeed lost some of his humor, but his character would have gained a lot of depth.

    I do feel that the Tonks/Lupin death is a better echo of Harry’s situation. For one, Arthur’s children are mostly grown by OOTP. Losing a parent at age 15 is significantly different than as a baby. The Weasley children would have an entire childhood of memories of their father. What is similar about Harry and Teddy is that all they know are stories about their parents and their brave deeds. Until OOTP, Harry grows up with an idealized vision of James and Lily, and I have to believe that the same would be true for Teddy. I believe that Jo made a better decision in killing off Lupin and Tonks instead of Arthur.

  • It would be terrible in very human terms if Arthur had died but must mention the loss to the wizarding investigation of muggle artifacts … Who would try to understand spark plugs and wrenches and eceltricity? Where would wizarding society go to resolve regurgitating toilet issues? We need Arthur!!

  • Shellie

    I believe that if Arthur had died in OotP then Harry nor Hermione would have been able to stay at the Burrow during the next 2 summers. Molly, I don’t think, would have been able to handle having extra children to worry about and feed. Bill and Fleur’s wedding may not have taken place when it did or it would have been an entirely different occation. I also feel that Percy would have returned to the family a whole lot sooner than he did and that he would harbor guilt for his actions towards his father. Of course, Percy may have still been a prat since he didn’t even show up at the hospital. I agree that Harry probably would have been so wrapped up in his guilt that he would cut off contact with the Weasley’s. I also question wether or not Ron would have even been willing to join Harry and Hermione. He definitely would have been such a different character. Although, it is my firm belief that Harry would Horcrux hunt on his own if Mr. Weasley had died. This is my first time commenting and I hope that what I’ve brought up makes sense!

  • GinnyWeasley002

    I’m going to venture into the world of madness… Not quite Noah Fried level, but madness nonetheless. Brace yourselves.

    I believe that, had Mr. Weasley been killed in this chapter, the Golden Trio could have been shattered. Beyond repair. Harry is a deeply compassionate young man, and is not good at coping with guilt, as we seem time and time again. (Losing house points SS/PS, Mr. Weasley facing an inquiry at work COS, Cedric dying GOF, Living at the Burrow, Being a burden on the Weasley’s due to necessary extra precautions in DH, and, of course, the death of Sirius Black, just to name a few.)

    Harry was seriously damaged and wracked by the guilt and terror that he might have been responsible for the attack on Arthur Weasley. Had this attack resulted in Arthur’s death, Harry would not just have been damaged, he would have been shattered. The Weasley’s had always been there for him, had ALWAYS gone out of there way to help him, had cared for him in a way no one else ever had, and if there was even the slightest chance that 15 year old Harry was responsible for Mr. Weasley’s death, I don’t think he could’ve withstood contact with the Weasley family. I think it quite likely that Harry would have fallen back on his default panic response and simply ran away. I think that Ron would blame Harry for his father’s death, even if he tried not too. There’s always that “What if?” The theories don’t have to be logical for them to present themselves as believable after a tragic incident like Mr. Weasley’s death. Even if he KNEW that Harry never would have killed Arthur, there always would be that small doubt both in Ron’s, and in Harry’s minds.

    I think with that, Hermione would attempt, as always to remain friends with both of them, but I do not believe she would have had tremendous success. I think the Weasley family would nearly fall off the radar entirely, at LEAST for the rest of the book. Maybe, after a lot of quiet time for mourning and thought, the family would be able to forgive Harry, knowing that he did not ACTUALLY commit the murder. I think Mrs. Weasley, in her family manner would have attempted to forgive Harry the second plausible evidence was brought forward that he was not responsible.

    However, even if Ron had been able to forgive Harry (and NOT think of Arthur’s brutal murder every time he looked at Harry), and even if Hermione had been able to succeed at keeping them all together, Harry would have had a MUCH harder time forgiving himself. It would have deeply impacted all three of their seperate character developments, maybe to the point that they could no longer work together.

    All of this aside, though, I believe in the Golden Trio, I believe that they could have risen above it, if only for the sake of the plot. However, as Shellie wonderfully articulates, many of the events of DH never would have taken place. Had Rowling gone through with this murder, I believe it could very well have destroyed the friendship of the Golden Trio. In fact, I believe that THAT is EXACTLY why Rowling did NOT kill Arthur. She knew the friendship, and the plot could not have survived it, or at least not been as strong as it had the potential to be, if Arthur recovered from the attack.

    “There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.” ~PS/SS.

    There are also some things you can’t share without losing yourself to guilt, doubt, fear, PTSD, and depression. I believe that the death of Arthur Weasley in such a manner as would have happened, is one of them.