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Did J.K. Rowling Botch the Ending of the Harry Potter Series?

February 5, 2014
 (image via Wikimedia)

(image via Wikimedia)

When author J.K. Rowling says she made a mistake, it makes news.  Supposedly, the author of the Harry Potter books claims she has second thoughts about how she ended the series, stating that maybe Hermoine and Ron shouldn’t have ended up together.  This has started a firestorm of fans arguing, with some proclaiming that they knew all along that the couple was a mismatch and others saying… Actually, everybody I know who has read the series believes that the couple was a mismatch.  This debate has been pretty much one-sided.

Personally, I don’t care.  I’m one of the few people who hasn’t read any of the Harry Potter books or seen any of the movies.  I started the first book but stopped after running across the name Dumbledore a few times.  That name really annoys me.  I don’t know why.  It’s not rational (and I’m usually a rational person), but I knew I couldn’t finish a book with a name like Dumbledore being used constantly.  I also don’t like the word “share.”  I cringe whenever I hear the word “share.”  If there’s a sentence in the Harry Potter series with both “share” and Dumbledore,” I don’t know what I would have done.

I couldn’t watch the movies either because if I can’t read the word “Dumbledore” silently, there was no way I could hear it constantly during a bunch of movies.  So I don’t have a dog in this hunt.  I don’t care if Hermoine ended up with Ron, or if she dumped him as soon as the credits rolled or when the reader put the book on the shelf.  All I know is that a girl who looks like Hermoine doesn’t end up with a guy who looks like Ron unless the girl grew up poor and the guy has a lot of money (or is in a position of power).

J.K. Rowling says that the ending is a kind of “wish fulfilment.”  She wrote the books.  She can make up any ending she wants.  But my theory (without any proof to back this up) is that she wrote the Harry Potter series too quickly.  That was a lot of books with a lot of pages in a relatively short period of time.  I understand, there was a lot of money to be made.  But I bet if she had taken more time for each book, Rowling wouldn’t have these regrets.  And if she really regrets it, she could just write another book and end it with Hermoine breaking Ron’s heart.  That book would make a lot of money.

Even if J.K. Rowling botched the ending of the Harry Potter series, it was at worst a minor mistake.  There have to be other authors who regret how they ended their books or series.  For example, I wonder if Suzanne Collins has second thoughts about how she wrote Mockinjay.  Those Hunger Games books came out even more quickly than the Harry Potter novels.  And I thought Mockinjay was a borderline travesty that didn’t resemble the first two books (and I don’t just mean the plot.  I also mean pacing, character development, and logic).  I wouldn’t mind if she simply asked for a do-over and wrote a different Mockinjay.  Maybe the movie version will make more sense.

I have regrets about my entire first six months of Dysfunctional Literacy.  I’ve even gone back and deleted a bunch of posts under the category “Dysfunctional Grammar.”  This idea was so embarrassingly bad that I don’t even want to explain what it was.  The “Dysfunctional Grammar” posts were so stupid that I almost fired myself from my own blog.  Luckily, I’ve seemed to find my voice/niche recently, but I’ve still left one example of “Dysfunctional Grammar” buried somewhere at the bottom of this blog just to remind myself.  I can do that.  But famous authors can’t go back and delete their regrettable words once they’ve been published and then hope that nobody notices.  I guess that’s the advantage of being an unknown writer.

I had a writing teacher who said that once a rough draft is done, the writer should put it away for six months and then come back to it.  The guy was kind of a hypocrite because he’d assign a composition and expect the final draft within a few days.  To be fair, he explained the difference between reality and ideal situations, but still, six months would have helped. Then again, there were a couple assignments where six months wouldn’t have mattered.  Six months wouldn’t have mattered with “Dysfunctional Grammar.”  And when an author writes a prolifically successful series like Harry Potter, there might never be enough time to truly get every detail perfectly right.

But enough about me!  What do you think, especially those of you who have actually read the Harry Potter books?  Did J.K. Rowling make a mistake with her ending?  What other authors should have second thoughts about the way they ended their books?  Have you ever written something that you regretted or had second thoughts about?

26 Comments
  1. Did you purposefully misspell Mockingjay?

  2. Apparently Suzanne Collins did botch up Mockingjay. She ran out of time and had to rush out the end to meet her deadline. It’s a shame. I really wonder what she would have written if she had been given the time…

  3. I’m glad that some other folks had problems with Mockingjay. Everything just felt…Off.

    As for the Harry Potter series…It’s in a list of books that I’d like to rip the last chapter out of.

  4. I think all writers are going to want to change things after the book comes out. Tolkien didn’t like some things about Lord of the Rings after they were published. As for Harry Potter, I liked the fact that Ron ended up with Hermione since it was not the obvious choice. In books, the main character almost always ends up with the strongest female protagonist, so it was nice for her to switch it up a bit.
    And as for Mockingjay, yeah that was totally different from the first too. I don’t know how else she could have ended it, but it had quite a few scenes that didn’t sit right with me. I’m curious how the movie will be, since the other two were quite faithful to the books.

    • What did Tolkien not like about The Lord of the Rings? I wasn’t wild about Tom Bombadil (I think), but I can’t say that in front of some people without putting my life in danger.

      • I can’t remember offhand but I remember reading there were things in it that he wanted to change afterwards. I really liked Tom Bombadil but I know others too who found him out of place. He put him in there for his kids.

  5. Can I count letters to my exes? I drag my heels every time before letting go of a manuscript, because I know there will be regrets if it makes print. I think it’s sort of like turning 50 and just being embarrassed for your 20s, 30s, and come to think of it, most of your 40s.

  6. I rather loved Harry Porter from the first day I picked the book, ‘Harry Porter and the Philosopher’s stone’. I thought the author was rather creative to be able to come up with such a story and names such as Dumbledore. What I have find amusing now is the fact that what i found creative, stopped somebody from reading the book. =D

    • When it comes to Dumbledore, I think more people agree with you than with me. I know it’s a bad reason not to read a book, but… but… I just couldn’t do it.

  7. I enjoyed the Harry Potter books, though I thought the last of the series Deathly Hallows would have been better at half the length. Didn’t see any of the films. I am always disappointed when I see what a film director has made of characters in books. I actually like the names and can imagine exactly what, say, Professor McGonagall looks like. I generally accept the ending an author has supplied though sometimes I do imagine what might happen nex, especially with children’s books. What do you think Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons did when they grew up? I know – or at least I know what my version says

  8. Yes, she probably did. I believe her original intention was to kill Harry as his fate was inextricably linked with Voldemort’s. Stephen King talked her out of it…allegedly so she killed one of the twins instead. As to other aspects, we have all written cringe-worthy stuff but as J.K. is a billionaire, I am certainly not going to offer her counsel:) Good write up as always.

  9. Here’s just another reason why I love you, Jimmy Norman.
    Harry Potter SUCKS.
    Carry on.

  10. Mea culpa, mea culpa, I haven’t read any of the Harry Potter books, nor have I watched the movies. Regardless, I still believe that an author can choose the ending that best suits their vision of the book, even if that might displease some of the readers. And if Dickens could have more than one ending for Great Expectations, that means indecision is nothing but an accepted stage of the writing process. Even great authors are nothing but human after all.

  11. I’m torn about this one. I don’t really care who Hermione ends up with, but … I don’t love that JKR is saying she made a mistake. It kind of undermines the series, in my opinion. I would be cool with her saying that “You know, Harry and Hermione could have gone well together also” or something, but to say that she wrote the couples wrong … I’m not a huge fan of that.

  12. Rynzi permalink

    Reblogged this on Where My 7 Dreams Grow….

  13. This is hilarious. I love your logic of not reading based on “Dumbledore” and “share.” These sorts of rules and standards are the key to a successful life, I say.
    I can’t really weigh in because I don’t care. I enjoyed the books but they are what they are and I just have zero ability to care about what ought or ought not have happened in something that’s relatively minor– it’s not like she said “I shouldn’t have killed Harry so violently at the end.” Oops, spoiler.

    Also: I have to agree about Mockingjay. It seemed very very different than the first two.

  14. So does that mean you don’t like Cher? I couldn’t agree with Laurel Leigh more. When you write you’re written.

  15. I like Harry Potter enough… not my favorite though… But for Rowling to say she made a mistake in this series is sad because her real mistake was ever publishing The Casual Vacancy. That whole book was a mistake in my opinion. Now I will have to think twice about ever reading another one of her books.

  16. i wrote a post on JKR’s statements here : http://mebooksblog.wordpress.com/
    The one thing i didn’t say is that of course almost every writer is gonna have second thoughts and third thoughts and tenth thoughts, so that’s why they should keep these thoughts to themselves and not ruin the reading experience for their readers.

  17. Personally, I also liked that Hermione broke the pattern of “main male protagonist gets the main female protagonist” pattern that makes so many other books so predictable. Additionally, I thought it made Harry a more neutral and accessible character. Instead of forcing the reader to participate in a relationship with a very complex character, Rowling gives us Ginny, who (if my admittedly patchy memory serves) was never really described in all too much detail, giving readers another neutral palate to project what they appreciate in a relationship onto. I thought it to be a brave choice to make, and I’m disappointed that Rowling is questioning it.

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