John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

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Roll dem Bones

queenofdenile asks:

I've been meaning to ask you this - what is it about Susan Bones you like so much? I think she's cool, but she's hardly in the books and I'm curious why a character with such a minor role is your favorite.

Well, it dates back to July 2000. After I finished reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, I decided that I needed to create my own concordance to the Harry Potter series, because the online concordance with which I was familiar -- Potterpedia -- was woefully inadequate. My efforts didn't last long, but I made it through the first few chapters of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone before giving up. (And shortly thereafter I discovered the Harry Potter Lexicon, which is pretty much the kind of thing what I had in mind for my own project.)

The first mention of the Bones family comes in the very first chapter of the first book, when Professor McGonagall mentions the Bones family as having been among those killed by Voldemort. Then, a few chapters later, a student named Susan Bones was sorted into Hufflepuff. I thought it was significant that there was another student in Harry's year that had a family history so similar to Harry's. Having picked up on the subtle clues in Goblet of Fire that Ron and Hermione might be attracted to one another, I surmised that in book five, their relationship might continue to develop and that Harry might feel left out as his two friends grew closer. And it made sense, sort of, to imagine that he might get to know and start spending time with Susan Bones, since they shared a tragic family history and could therefore relate to one another in a way they might not be able to in others.

Flash-forward to 2001. When I saw the film adaptation of Sorcerer's Stone, I was thrilled and delighted to see that Susan Bones was the only student other than Harry, Draco, Ron, and Hermione to be shown during the Sorting Hat scene. Here, I thought, was definitive proof that Susan Bones would have a large role to play in subsequent novels. If you wanted to show a student other than the big four being sorted, why choose one as obscure as Susan Bones? The only explanation that made sense was that J.K. Rowling had hinted to screenwriter Steve Kloves that Susan would become an important character down the line.

I was unaware at the time that Susan Bones was played by the daughter of the director, which provides another, arguably more plausible explanation for her appearance in that scene. Nevertheless, her reappearance in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix suggests that my theory is not altogether implausible. In fact, there's one scene in chapter 25 in which she commiserates will Harry, telling him that because of the extra attention she attracted after the Death Eater who killed her uncle escaped from Azkaban, she understands what his life must be like. I can't tell you how exciting it was to read that.

As for why I call her my favorite character, there are a couple of different reasons. First, it's distinctive. It's nice to have a couple of interests that are somewhat out of the ordinary and identifiably mine. Second, it's in my own self-interest to keep my Harry/Susan theory out there, because in the admittedly unlikely event that it turns out to be correct, it will be the single greatest feat of prognostication in the history of history itself, and I want people to remember that I called it way in advance. Because I'm just that vain.

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