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The sum of us* - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
wemyss
wemyss
The sum of us*

Fathers and sons.  I am not of course referring here to the novel by Turgenev that is usually thus titled in English (actually, Отцы и дети should be Fathers and Children, but let that pass, not that Ivan Sergeyevich would have let it pass, I shouldn’t think). 

 

The reference to Turgenev is apt, as it was something recently observed by painless_j, that Indefatigable Archivist, from which I take my text.  She noted that the ‘next generation’ (or ‘epilogue generation’) characters in the Poterverse had already acquired a stock set of characteristics in fanon, derived from the fandom’s vision of their parents (e.g., H/D ’shippers write Al and Scorpius as a second edition of Harry and Draco – largely fandom-Draco, unsullied by the events of the Hogwarts years and the war; Hugo and Rose are written so as to reflect the author’s view of Ron and Hermione, whether approving or hateful).

 

I think this observation true, or largely so; I also think it inevitable.

 

I do not, that is to say, believe that it is necessarily a matter of mere cliché or the mark of a poor or slovenly writer to flesh out the children of the War generation by endowing them with family characteristics and familial resemblances (nor do I suggest that painless_j so felt).  I do of course contend that the good writer will not confine herself to the mere mechanical cataloguing of characteristics from canon characters, to create and characterise the children of those characters, naturally.

 

We are all of us, after all, the sum of our choices, of our personal histories, and of our characters; yet our circumstances and our characters are in part created and constrained by what we have inherited from our families: predispositions, quirks, learnt – often unconsciously learnt and largely unexamined – behaviour, social capital, and all the rest of it.

 

Consider your own sweet self.  Are you not – are we not all – the sum of these things?  From the time you were an infant, everyone who has observed you has seen in you, your actions, your reactions, your cast of thought, your body, glimpses of your family: ‘Oh, look, hasn’t she her gran’s eyes, bless’; ‘just like his father, that one’.  And the things that you most admire and most despise in yourself, at the deepest levels, are, are they not, the things you see as having been imposed upon or reinforce in you by your family history, from rashness or improvidence to patience to, say, diabetes or depression or a sanguine disposition or a dodgy heart.

 

The apposite citation to Larkin, I resist by main force.

 

In my own case, I can see – and others can no doubt see yet more clearly – the influences in my makeup that I have of my parents, and theirs.  My father’s mother’s family mined a rich vein of sarcasm and caustic wit all ’round; my father’s father’s family surely moulded my natural reserve and natural conservatism; my mother’s father’s family, for all its ecclesiastical and legal background, dowered me not only with impulses to piety but also with sensuality – and not only or primarily that of the body, but also or perhaps more in their weaknesses for musical and æsthetic stimuli, good food and better wine.  And such sweetness of temperament as I possess – not much – derives from the distant tincture of my mother’s mother’s line.

 

And each of you could say the same.

 

Now, applying this to the Potterverse – in which we know a rather surprising, if incomplete, amount about the various ancestors, and in which the older Wizarding families are inextricably intertwined – it becomes evident that the writer, in creating a Teddy or a Lysander, an Albus, Lily, James, Scorpius, Hugo, or Rose, has a good deal of material to work with.  ‘Arr, he do favour his Uncle (or Aunt) Elvendork (it’s unisex!), doan’t he.’  Harry’s and Ginny’s brood may have their namesakes, yet they needn’t be modelled only on Lily and James, Arthur and Molly, Harry and Ginny, or even upon Fred or Percy.  Sirius and the Blacks as a whole were their kin also; Petunia also represents some strain in the Evans family; even if Aunt Muriel, that appalling woman, married into the Weasleys, she’s likely a third cousin or so as well.  ‘All the old families’, you will recall: there’s no reason Rose, for example, cannot take after Luna or Cedrella or James the elder – or Sirius, or Aberforth – quite as much as after Molly or Mrs Granger.

 

What one may do, I confide, is take the characteristics of almost anyone in the Wizarding world, combined with other and perhaps nearer familial ones, as the story requires; and, taking that as a theme, derive all manner of variations: canon and fugue.

 

The advantage of this to the serious and not at all lazy writer is that these sudden flashes of recognition aid greatly, not only in driving a narrative and characterising a character, but in earthing the ‘next generation’ character in the canonical world.  The two great risks one runs in writing of the ‘epilogue generation’ are, on the one hand, making them mere shadows of the canon characters, and, on the other, making them wholly OCs.  Combining characteristics from the canon characters in original and exciting fashion, and modifying them into something that is not a mere, stale copy of those canonical characters, is a reliable prophylactic against both of these temptations.

________________________________

* Which refers to the only role in which I ever found Russell Crowe at all attractive, I may add.

 

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Comments
ellie_nor From: ellie_nor Date: June 22nd, 2008 10:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
A very enjoyable and thought-provoking essay; thank you. I shall read the Epilogue generation with fresh eyes.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 23rd, 2008 01:19 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thankee, lass.

May we all do as well.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: June 22nd, 2008 11:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

Is This a Hint as to What's Next Out the "Gates"?

Are we sure it's "Elvendork"? I yield to none in my slavish adherence to Canon (it's Jo's world after all), but her handwriting is barely decipherable...

I think Muriel's a Prewett.

Edited at 2008-06-23 05:46 am (UTC)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 23rd, 2008 01:21 pm (UTC) (Link)

Not as such.

And even if it's not ELvendork, well, call me Ben. Ben Trovato.

And I can't imagine Molly and Arthur, say, are the first Weasley-Prewett intermarriage in any case.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: June 23rd, 2008 01:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Not as such.

Okay, this "Elvendork" thing -- it's British, isn't it?

I have a theory about the Weasleys' blood-treachery. I don't think it's benign or altruistic, and I think it may have something to do with why so few females are born to the Weasleys. I think they have strong feelings about inbreeding producing Squibs and loons and Gaunts. I can't imagine they were any happier about Cedrella than the Blacks were about Septimus; they didn't blast him off any tapestry, though: QED.

And those Prewetts, Good Lord! Rich tinkers is what they are; trailer trash with money, as we would say over here. Well, she did produce six boys, and three of them (Audrey? Who are [i]her[/i] people?) brought fresh blood into the family. Too many girls in that generation, though.
From: the_merope Date: June 23rd, 2008 01:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Hah! From what we saw at King's Cross in the epilogue, James Sirius is very aptly named!

And of course there's the possibility (most interesting to me) of a child determinedly opposing everything their father, mother, or general heritage implies or is.

I think it's less likely for her/him to rage against the characteristics, whether s/he's inherited them or not, of an aunt/uncle/third cousin, unless said cousin lives with or in close proximity to her/him. But it could happen: Lily Luna develops a stubborn hatred of everything Aunt Muriel does or is over two or three years, or even a single Christmas, for some reason, and spends months doing and being everything that would place her in opposition to said harpy. Even if/when the active hatred mellows over time, the effects may linger, and end up shaping Lily jr.'s personality.

This is easier to imagine if the relationship is closer: Scorpius with Lucius, Albus Severus (though IMO this would be heartbreaking) with his famous father, Lorcas and/or Lysander with their/his off-beat (and therefore embarrassing?) Mum. This is actually what I like most about epilogue-generation fiction: the possibilities of how children will develop are endless, and in the absence of closely looming or open war, human relationships have a ... different dynamic, to say the least. I saw an icon on my f'list that said, Albus Severus/Scorpius: Taking off from where Harry/Draco left off ... Going where Harry/Draco never dared to go ... And I thought there was a darker truth to that than the icon, which was just funny, of course, implied.

War created ready-made camps and values and loyalties and life-and-death consequences for the players & their kin; in the aftermath of peace the loves and hatreds become more personal, don't they? I mean, Harry & Draco's mutual dislike was pretty much personal as well as a matter of principle, but, say, Ginny and Draco? I could easily envision them tearing each other apart and looking blank if someone asked why: she was a Weasley, or he was a Malfoy, are reasons enough; it was nothing personal.

While this is true to a degree in epilogue generation kids, the potency of inherited love/hate/loyalty is diluted, isn't it? The children's relationships aren't a matter of life & death, victory & defeat in war ... And it's my tentative belief that when human beings aren't in ready made life and death situations, they create them. When they're not on a battlefield, they convert their homes, their playgrounds, their offices, into battlefields. When they know, albeit subconsciously or dimly, that they won't be able to sort out their petty squabbles at the point of a gun (or a wand), they wound their opponents more deeply, with greater urgency, and in uglier ways, without guns or wands.

D'you know what I'm saying? When the line between black and white hasn't been set in stone, and people are negotiating grey, life is calmer and peaceful on the surface, but roils underneath. Betrayal, torture, the active fascination for and practice of the Dark Arts, bigotry, are all still present, but they're constrained within legal bounds and therefore usually forced to be petty, but that just ends up meaning human beings turn the worst of themselves inward and toward those they come into closer contact with. They can't harm strangers, so they harm, in more insidious, often equally cruel, though often legal, ways, those they can get at. And the hatred is personal.

I think I've left my initial point very far behind, sorry! It was that the war-generation's kids can respond in a myriad different ways to their parents' generation, and the plethora of genetic combinations coupled with personal choice, environment, and accident, means they could be anyone and do anything. But yeah, it would be really lovely to see Percy's daughter Molly inherit Luna's love for the unbelievable, or Scorpius to inherit Arthur Weasley's penchant for tinkering with Muggle artifacts :)
pathology_doc From: pathology_doc Date: June 23rd, 2008 03:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Harry & Draco's mutual dislike was pretty much personal as well as a matter of principle, but, say, Ginny and Draco? I could easily envision them tearing each other apart and looking blank if someone asked why: she was a Weasley, or he was a Malfoy, are reasons enough; it was nothing personal.

I think this may be true of the next gen, but is not necessarily true of Harry's generation - the Malfoys hated the Weasleys because of their "blood traitor" status; the Weasleys (esp. Arthur) had their ongoing suspicions about the Malfoys having fought against them in the first war, whilst Draco's attitude to Ron's family and to the non-Slytherin houses in general reminded Harry (who came into the game with a clean slate) very much of Dudley and Vernon's nastiness. Yes, Hagrid had said very bad things about Slytherin already, but Draco gave Harry very good reason to see why that House would be good for Draco and to reject it for himself.

The issue of who hates whom afterwards is of course more contentious and open to playing with. Clearly Ron harbours ill will towards the Malfoys, as is obvious from his instructions to Rose ("beat him in all your tests"); but even here, the antagonism he espouses is designed to have the effect of showing who is the better wizard through demonstrated capability, not through obscene ideas about birthright (which he additionally rejects with his quip about Arthur being annoyed if his grandchildren married purebloods).

When the line between black and white hasn't been set in stone, and people are negotiating grey, life is calmer and peaceful on the surface, but roils underneath. Possibly. I think the line between black and white, between what is acceptable and what is not, has been drawn by the events of the Second War. The Ministry never went down in the First War; the Government never collapsed: what happened in Wizard War Two showed just where fascination with the Dark Arts leads.

What was more, the recovering Ministry that emerged from that war seems to be composed of people who had fought in it, who remembered its lessons, and who were not naive or pliable enough to let the bad guys slip through the cracks or escape unwatched.

Enough has been said about the fighters in that war not wanting to extend their old enmities to their children (which Ron gets upbraided for doing, while Harry has forgiven Snape to the point where his second son is in part named after him) that I think your dark future isn't the one that eventuates.

They can't harm strangers The very point of the wizarding world is that they can - and they do. They can wound them horrifically (imagine being transformed into the sort of oozing slug that Draco becomes at the end of book five), but the wounds are completely reversible. In a world where you have a 'magic bullet' that induces unconsciousness or completely reversible disfigurement, it may be harder to justify killing, but it is easier to justify shooting, whether your opponent is turned into a slug or hauled up by the ankles and left dangling in the corridor. James Snr probably had no animus at all towards most of the people he hexed; he did it because he wanted to show off that he was better at doing it than his victims were at shielding themselves.

Scorpius with Lucius: Do you mean Draco? Or is your comparison deliberately of the post-war baby with the grandfather who really might never have reformed, rather than with the father who realized only too late what he'd got himself into and never wants to go there again?
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: June 23rd, 2008 05:43 am (UTC) (Link)

The Mother's Curse vs Grandmother's Revenge

"Scorpius with Lucius: Do you mean Draco? Or is your comparison deliberately of the post-war baby with the grandfather who really might never have reformed, rather than with the father who realized only too late what he'd got himself into and never wants to go there again?"

"When you have kids, I hope they act just like you!"
"This precious? You're not a hell-born psycho like your Daddy was when he was your age, are you, Nana's little angel?" Bill Cosby used to say, "These are not the parents that raised me. These are old people trying to get into heaven!"

I want to see Scorpius shy and nervous, hiding behind sweet, batty old Grampa Loo when he gets sorted into Hufflepuff. I want Rose and Albus to pile into the train compartment with him and scare him shitless explaining the various options presented by their parents for their Hogwarts interaction. I want thuggish Freddie "Deuce" Weasley to be the first Slytherin Head Boy since Merlin knows when, with a big fuzzy red afro and freckles, and the slightly mean-spirited humor of his namesake uncle. I want Harry to be happy in his corner office as Head Auror where he wastes a lot of time playing EMP-shielded video games with MLE Head Ron Weasley, who reopened Florian's under the aegis of Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. I want Ginny to bring Winky down from Hogwarts and put her back in a tea-towel; globe-trotting ex-star-athlete sports journalists don't cook.

I want the whole Potterverse to degenerate into a series on the level of "The Babysitter's Club". The darkest thing I want to read is Arthur's backstory. (His Muggle obsession irritates me. He's every Caucasoid person who assured me with a perfectly straight face that some of their best friends were, ah, Black, and surely I was familiar with [insert name of obscure blues or jazz artist.]) What, for example, did Cedrella Black think of Molly Prewett?

Is anybody else familiar with mistful/maya's "Coda to an Epilogue: The Kids Are Alright"? This is the kind of next-gen I want to see: there are rivalries and feuds, but they are conducted on a level appropriate to schoolkids and not the forces of good and evil.
From: the_merope Date: June 23rd, 2008 06:08 am (UTC) (Link)
First of, sorry about the length of the following comments. I forgot to pay attention to brevity, somewhere along the line! Second, wemyss, I hope you don't mind our having this discussion here? It's gone off on a tangent and barely relates to your original post anymore; if it's bothersome, do let us know, and we'll move these comments to either my journal or to pathology_doc's.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 23rd, 2008 01:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

Not at all. Carry on.

Whole point of the exercise, after all.

Have at it.
From: the_merope Date: June 23rd, 2008 06:12 am (UTC) (Link)
I think this may be true of the next gen, but is not necessarily true of Harry's generation

I'm not sure I understand you correctly: isn't it true that in Harry's generation, Weasleys and Malfoys would hate each other, no matter what? "Gryffindor and Slytherin students loathed each other on principle" whether or not they disliked each other personally; "no Malfoy's worth listenin' ter - bad blood, that's what it is," says Hagrid, voicing the general, non-pure-blood-fanatic consensus in Chamber of Secrets. 'Blood traitor status' and suspicions of Dark activity are matters of principle: Draco holds Ron in contempt because "some wizarding families" - like the Malfoys - "are better than others" - such as the Weasleys, and Ron reciprocates because he's "heard of [Malfoy's] family" as all being Dark wizards, as opposed to Harry, who dislikes Draco because Draco is arrogant and spoilt: he disapproves of Malfoy personally, long before he learns about the principles that govern pre-second-war-Wizarding society and chooses a side, a set of principles.

As regards the next generation, Ron's 'ill will' toward the Malfoys is more than half playful, more a matter of habit and lingering but slightly worn-out dislike of the Malfoys, who are no longer the pure-blood fanatics that inspired his serious hatred. And it's partly a similarly worn-out habit of disliking Draco for similar reasons.

(The quip you mentioned, about Arthur wishing Rose not to marry a pure-blood, illustrates that Ron is laughingly implying Rose shouldn't get too friendly with Scorpius because of his blood status: still a matter of principle. Though of course, over time, Ron grew to dislike Draco personally too, but that's beside the point. He would have disliked Draco even without knowing him, for being a Malfoy.)

Hermione's immediate reaction is to counter this principle-related prejudice. The principle isn't really necessary any more: the Malfoys are no longer really Dark wizards, and the Weasleys being blood traitors (presumably) no longer earns them the former family's automatic contempt. Now if Rose dislikes Scorpius, it'll be because he's a spoilt braggart, or because he gets better marks than her at Potions or some such: it'll be personal, the way it was for Harry (and Muggleborns), but was not for children who'd grown up listening to their parents and relatives issue sweeping edicts about who was worth knowing and who was not.
From: the_merope Date: June 23rd, 2008 06:12 am (UTC) (Link)
I think your dark future isn't the one that eventuates.

But my 'dark future' has nothing to do with the Dark Arts, or with pure-blood prejudice. I agree the lessons of the second war have been learnt, and learnt well; when I speak of life roiling underneath, I'm talking about psychology. Blood status prejudice and the Dark Arts were one manifestation of hatred, lust for power, and bigotry; the war incapacitated this manifestation, it did not root out hatred, lust for power, and bigotry. Those are human mores, or human frailties, or part of human nature.

The future I imagine isn't especially dark; it's ordinary. And ordinary includes the worst of human psychology. My point was that now the war is over, hatred has lost its blood bigotry guise and desire for power has lost its refuge in the Dark Arts. Now (for the epilogue generation) these human evils will be naked and unadorned by 'principle'. They will eventually manifest in the form of some other set of principles as "obscene" as blood purity and horcruxes, but the growth and establishment of ideals takes time, and I'm suggesting that for a while all the human penchant for violence and power will get channelled into purely personal hate. Of course, one can imagine this period is already past by the time we get to the epilogue: nineteen years is time enough for another cult/ another kind of racism to begin flourishing. But in that case, the fan fiction writer must exercise her/his ingenuity and come up with reasons for ideological feuds, mustn't they?

One could imagine a perfectly peaceful and comfortable society, but then the interactions between characters aren't nearly as interesting, are they? I am discussing possibilities for fan fiction in these comments, not trying to imagine what post-DH Wizarding Britain looks like. Outside of convoluted fannish plots and the concomitant, requisite necessity of travails for next-gen Potters et al., I imagine "all was well" in Potter-world, just as Harry/JKR said :)
pathology_doc From: pathology_doc Date: June 23rd, 2008 03:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
One could imagine a perfectly peaceful and comfortable society, but then the interactions between characters aren't nearly as interesting, are they?

Undoubtedly true; my one serious shot at a post-war (about six years post) fic was a crossover, probably for that very reason.

The scariest thought post-war is not the struggle against the next Dark Wizard, but the almost hopeless struggle against the potential replacement of people like Kingsley Shacklebolt with human banalities like Cornelius Fudge - there is an 'ordinary' man who encapsulates the worst of humanity in a very different sense, because he emphasizes almost nothing except self-serving cowardice and denial. Contrast that with Ollivander's description of Voldemort's deeds - "Terrible, yes, but great" - and sometimes I wonder who is the worse.
From: the_merope Date: June 23rd, 2008 06:13 am (UTC) (Link)
The very point of the wizarding world is that they can - and they do.

When I said "they can't harm strangers" I meant witches and wizards can no longer stroll through Diagon Alley, Crucio-ing "the wandless" as Bella Lestrange no doubt did, if the beggars' general reaction to the polyjuiced Hermione was any indication. When Bella was called "Madame Lestrange" by Gringotts goblins and bowed and scraped to, and Death Eaters could get their fill of violence by picking up Muggles and Muggleborns to practice curses on, it was easy to write fiction about Harry and Dumbledore's Army resisting. When Harry is Head-Auror in a Ministry characterised by tolerance, fairness, and justice, that sort of plot device is no longer possible. Hatred, jealousy, betrayal- all the dramatic emotions we like reading about- will have to stem from an outwardly more balanced society. To explore the dark side of human nature seems to me a viable alterntive.

I do not equate James's schoolboy shenanigans with what the Wizarding world defines as violence: in a world where the wave of a wand can convert you into a canary and back, I imagine being turned into a slug is less than positively traumatic. Human beings get used to a great deal, depending on their environment. According to Lupin "there were a few months in [his] fifth year when you couldn't move for being hoisted into the air by your ankle" after all. Can you imagine that in our world? Forget expelled, all those kids would get labelled as juvenile delinquents. I think it's important to remember JKR's HP verse is not set in our real world.

Or is your comparison deliberately of the post-war baby with the grandfather who really might never have reformed [...]?

Yes. Ever since JKR said in one of her post-publication chats that Lucius was not imprisoned after DH, I've been wondering about the new dynamics in Malfoy-dom. Though "the grandfather who really might never have reformed" isn't quite accurate; I don't think that's even an option. As I imagine him, Lucius is no more capable of giving up his idea of pure-blood superiority after his ordeal during DH than he was before. He will simply admit that Voldemort was insane, and not a good choice as either mascot or leader of The Noble Cause. He also probably recognises that given the post-war political climate, "it is not - prudent to appear less than fond of Harry Potter" and his ilk of Muggle-lovers and Mudbloods and blood traitors. If caution is reform, I imagine Lucius is as reformed as they come. And I think Scorpius, brought up by a Draco disillusioned of the veneration he felt for "Father" and probably sick of hearing meaningless cant about blood purity, attending a Hogwarts where Slytherin is no longer a "bastion of the Dark Arts" and where his grandfather is remembered less than kindly, if at all, would make for an interesting subject in the context I described in my very, very first comment. XD
pathology_doc From: pathology_doc Date: June 23rd, 2008 03:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
When Harry is Head-Auror in a Ministry characterised by tolerance, fairness, and justice, that sort of plot device is no longer possible. Hatred, jealousy, betrayal- all the dramatic emotions we like reading about- will have to stem from an outwardly more balanced society.

I see your point here, though I don't necessarily agree with it. My take on post-Potter canon is that we'd see less of the hatred, jealousy or betrayal (except among the Slytherins, as they play he-said-she-said, point the finger at each other, and implode themselves as a serious threat for the foreseeable future). The question of how they bring their children up, how they try not to teach them old enmities and past grudges, would make for a fascinating tale; but after everything he'd been through, Harry deserved a rose-coloured future.

I think we're at cross purposes with Lucius. He knows he's effectively under a suspended sentence of treason and probably several counts of murder. You see him as incapable of giving up his blood-purity ideals, and this is exactly what I meant by "never really reformed". "I don't think he's really changed underneath - do you?" might be something Harry says to Ron, for instance.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 23rd, 2008 01:24 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh, quite.

I was unclear. The constraints, the 'the things that you most admire and most despise in yourself': I intended, but failed to make explicit, that these may be things the child accepts as defining him, or things she defines herself by rejecting. You were quite right to point out what I had thus elided.
froganon From: froganon Date: June 23rd, 2008 01:59 am (UTC) (Link)

the next gen


I shall have to think more on the next generation now.
spike
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 23rd, 2008 01:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

And so shall we all, I trust.

Thanks, love.
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