Stories you should read this week (7/1/16)

 

How Our February Cover Star Amandla Stenberg Learned to Love Her Blackness by Solange Knowles (via Teen Vogue)

Warning: this profile of the very cool Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg by the equally cool Solange will definitely make you wonder why you couldn’t be this awesome at 17.

How Islamophobia Hurts Muslim Women the Most by Sirin Kale (via Broadly)

This article from Vice explains how the intersection of Islamophobia and misogyny makes Muslim women particularly vulnerable to violence and harassment.

Two Sisters’ Escape from Syria by Sarah A. Topol (via The Cut)

This article focuses on two young female refugees (a minority, as most women who leave are traveling with their families) as they journey from Syria to seek asylum in Europe.

This Couple Wants to Show How Traveling With A Partner Isn’t Always A Fairy Tale by Annie Daly (via Buzzfeed)

As someone who also hopes to do extensive traveling with her partner in the future, I enjoyed reading this honest piece about the relationship struggles created by full-time travel.

The Wall Dancer by Nick Paumgarten (via The New Yorker)

This New Yorker piece profiles Ashima Shiraishi, the incredible girl who is, at the age of 14, already one of the most (if not the most) talented rock climbers in the world.

Vhy Ve Love Viktor Krum

I just finished rereading the Harry Potter series for the first time in a few years. The earlier books I’ve read and reread at least a dozen times; the later books, fewer, but still three or four times apiece. Usually when I reread a book (which is frequent, with my favourites) I notice something new each time through—some small detail I missed the first time around (or the second, or the third). However, I think I may have finally reached the point where I’ve caught everything there is to catch in the Harry Potter series. For the first time rereading it, there were no moments where I thought “Oh! I hadn’t noticed this before.” I suppose I’m not surprised given that there are a good few passages throughout the series that I know by heart.

In place of lines I feel as though I’d never read before or events that I feel that I am eagerly turning the pages to read for the first time, however, I find myself interested in different characters than I had been on previous read-throughs. I still love the main characters, of course, and I still have my favourite secondary characters, but I notice the awesomeness of various minor characters as if meeting them for the first time. I’ll talk about the three I loved a lot in this most recent reread in this and upcoming posts, beginning with a character I find very underrated (by us, not by the wizarding athletic world): Viktor Krum.

We first meet Krum at the Quidditch World Cup, where he is the star seeker of the Bulgarian NT. Famously, just as Fred and George Weasley predict, he catches the snitch although it is not enough for them to beat Ireland. And as we, and Harry and friends, soon find out, he is not only an incredible Quidditch player but an accomplished wizard at a young age when he arrives at Hogwarts from Durmstrang and is, of course, chosen to compete in the Triwizard Tournament.

Now, at this point we know he’s a good wizard and a great sportsman, but he seems pretty unremarkable as a character apart from being fairly dour. But the more I learned about him reading the books time and again, the more I like him.

The chapter of the books that most exemplifies the reasons I think Krum is an underrated character is not from Goblet of Fire, where he preforms acts of skill, magic, and athletic ability, but his cameo-sized role in Deathly Hallows, at Bill and Fleur’s wedding.

First, there’s the fact that he chooses to attend the wedding to begin with. Sure, Harry’s there, but it’s clearly more for the groom than the bride. Although they were Triwizard Champions together, it seems unlikely that he would’ve showed up to Fleur’s wedding had she been marrying, say, Roger Davies. And while Cedric would likely have gone had it not been for his untimely death, he was known to be friendly and sociable, unlike the surly Krum. And yet Krum makes the trek, showing respect for Fleur by doing something that is important to her.

In a similar way in the fourth book, he showed respect for Harry by noticing and mentioning something important to him (to both of them), his flying skills. Also in the fourth book is, of course, when he dates Hermione, but since that is probably the most well-known aspect of his character I won’t touch much on it since we fans have surely poured enough over their connection and Ron’s ensuing jealousy. The one thing I do want to mention is that when Krum sees Ron and Hermione, he does not seem to be annoyed or feel any anger toward Ron, unlike Ron who still (fairly or not) holds a grudge against Krum. He is understanding of Hermione’s choice.

Instead I want to point out one more important thing that happens at Fleur’s wedding: Krum is angry at seeing the symbol of what we later find out is the Hallows but what Krum describes as the symbol of Grindewald, who passed through school at Durmstrang and became a dark wizard much like Voldemort did at Hogwarts. Despite going to a school known for connections to the Dark Arts and, indeed, having a headmaster during Krum’s time who was a Death Eater, Krum is against Dark wizards such as Grindewald.

What’s interesting about this is that a main criticism levied against J.K. Rowling is that the Slytherins are seen to be almost universally bad. No Slytherin, unsurprisingly, joins the DA, and no Slytherin stays behind to fight to protect Hogwarts in the final battle. The only Slytherins we see do anything good are the ones who are essential to the plot like Snape, Malfoy, Slughorn, and Regulus Black. The others are either outright evil or, in the background, negatively indifferent.

In contrast, while Krum does nothing plot-relevant to fight against the Dark Arts, he is mentioned to be against it, despite having attended what is basically the school version of Slytherin. Whereas Rowling defaults all except a select few plot-critical Slytherin’s to “generally bad,” Krum is specifically good, which makes him an even more interesting and compelling character given his educational background.