The third book in the series sees the introduction of Harry’s godfather, Sirius, who is wrongly imprisoned in Azkaban for many years, and much more backstory on his parents and their friends.
This is where the reasons for Snape hating Harry are illuminated to the reader. The element of time travel is introduced, as are animagus.
But I knew about all of this before. So, what did I learn this time?
The first thing was about how the dead imprint upon us. Imprinting is a biological process, occurring in the very early stages of development in humans, usually from parents to offspring. In the one year that Harry had with his parents, this had obviously been influential. Harry goes on to become very like both of his parents, a likeness that is commented upon by many characters throughout all of the book.
But it’s the impact that people can have, even after they die that struck me the most in the book. I’d never thought about it before, but Harry is essentially moulded by those who die for him, or are willing to. The echoes of their souls and living actions live on in him, most notably his mother’s sacrifice to save him with her love. I am sure it is the kind of action that any parent would repeat without hesitation.
This quote struck me in particular, with reference to this.
“You think the dead we loved truly ever leave us? You think that we don’t recall them more clearly in times of great trouble?”
And this summarises the message JK Rowling is trying to get across, in that while people will die, it’s a part of life, even the dead can live on within the memories of those people they touch and those of us who do live on, will always seek their comfort and memory in times of trouble or dilemma. Harry’s own ability to love strongly, and therefore care so much about those around him, stems from this and when he finds out his Dad isn’t as nice as he would have liked, he is dismayed. Of course, the later actions of his father more than make up for this, but it’s a point nicely illustrated in this book.
Ripples in a pool. Long after the stone has sunk, they continue to have an impact upon the surface and affect those still above the water.
This is one of the most quote-worthy books in the series. To be honest, Dumbledore is a universal quote machine. Here’s one of my favourites.
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
I can’t count the number of profound things he says, but there’s a few that I think summarise this point and then a couple which summarise the nature of the book, and my second insight: that young people get up to no good a lot of the time and it doesn’t make them bad people. They are still learning and often need to make mistakes to do this. It is not a reflection of who you are or who will you become as an adult. This is never more true than when Harry hears about what his father is like at his age, in this and later books.
“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”
Prisoner of Azkaban has taught me so, so much and I am sure the next time I re-read, I will learn yet another lesson from JK.